What is punk? That’s a question that’s been asked since the 70s when the Sex Pistols burst onto the scene. The beauty of a question like that is that it never goes away. In fact, Slayer wrote Undisputed Attitude in response to Green Day and The Offspring’s popularity in the ’90s.
And as it turns out, they aren’t the only ones that are upset about the commercialization and nostalgia of punk rock. Joe Corré, the son of Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren and designer Vivienne Westwood, made a statement this past weekend by burning £5 million worth of punk memorabilia in London, which is close to $6 million U.S. Corre, who co-founded lingerie company Agent Provocateur, was apparently upset by 40th anniversary events for punk. Among the stuff burned was a pair of Johnny Rotten’s pants, live recordings and concert posters.
It’s not like Corré just did this out of the clear blue, however. He announced his intention to do so back in March. And Saturday’s display was on the 40th anniversary of the “Anarchy In the UK” single being released. And he wasn’t super low key about it, either, setting fire to the trunk of memorabilia from a barge on the Thames while giving a speech about the value of punk rock:
Some people are very concerned about the price of these artifacts, but the conversation we need to have is about values … Punk was never, never meant to be nostalgic, and you can’t learn how to be one at a Museum of London workshop. Punk has become another marketing tool to sell you something you don’t need, the illusion of alternative choice, conformity in another uniform. If you want to understand the potent values of punk, confront taboos. Do not tolerate hypocrisy. Investigate the truth for yourself.
What do punks think about that? Well, former Sex Pistol Jon Lydon called him a “selfish fucking lingerie expert,” suggesting he should have sold the collection and donated the proceeds to charity. That’s not very punk rock though, is it?
[Via the A.V. Club]