I’ve just watched a prog on C4 about an alleged tribute to MC5. The surviving members got assorted old rockers in to guest for the dead and trundled out the approved classics.
The show included huge amounts of simpering praise and quite nauseating levels of ass-kissing towards MC5. There was even some bastard on from Mojo – face it, once Mojo likes a band, you may as well shoot them, they’ve become as “dangerous” and “subversive” as a Nissan Micra.
But I like MC5 so why do I have problem with this adulation?
My problem is that rock and rock musicians are shit. They weren’t always: certainly MC5 and a host of other hairy young kids did their best to fuck shit up. But rock now has become an excercise in time travel. All that matters in rock now is your list of oh-so-trendy influences and the verisimilitude with which you can re-create a certain style.
How else can you explain great steaming turds like Jet, the Pot Noodle of rock? Simply add boiling water for a tasteless experience that makes your piss smell.
And not one person in the prog seemed to query whether making icons out of iconoclasts wasn’t perhaps MISSING THE ENTIRE FUCKING POINT? Never mind that the whole prog was sponsored by Levis. A corporate sponsor for a prog about MC5??
But none of that matters nowadays, does it? There was a passing, right-on nod towards what made the MC5 truly dangerous: their politics. Yeah, they did shovel cratefuls of drugs into their bodies but unlike today’s sedated rock youth, they actually did stuff in the real world too. They managed to get on the FBI’s shitlist, just like NWA did in the late 80s. They didn’t just pose being dangerous while they were on stage, like every bastard “rock” band does now, they lived it.
I see I’m falling into the respectful worship trap myself: fuck that.
I don’t worship dead rock bands, I live in the now. I don’t long for a time when music had power and we could all wear fros and join hands with hippies on anti-Vietnam marches.
Music has power now. Musicians have political capability now. Where were all these MC5-inspired cunts during the antiwar demos of the past year? I don’t remember any of them taking anti-war stances? I remember Ms. Dynamite getting stuck in. But I don’t remember all the carefully retro-styled faux-garage rock twats even making a solitary squeak. Probably too busy sourcing a really cool jacket or finding out what strings were popular in 19-fucking-69.
Practically all rock now is DADROCK. Music to test out BMW stereo systems with. The danger is all ersatz, the rebellion is meticulously copied from templates that are 30, 40 or even 50 years old. The bands make sure they all take shitloads of drugs, like good little kiddies. Why? To rebel? Nope – to make sure they’re authentically rock. Anorock’n’roll.
Rock is the least dangerous form of music imaginable. Do politicians tremble in their shoes when Keane take the stage? Does the CIA tap the White Stripes phones? Are the Strokes best mates with radical black Marxist groups?
Those bands are all product. Nothing more. The NME tells you they’re fashionable, you go and consume them. As soon as the NME tells you they’re unfashionable, you sell the CDs in Cash Converter and dutifully move on to the next trough of soma. Like the complacent little rock-loving pigs you are.
You like them without question. Just the same as you get pissed and smoke weed without question. It makes your brain hurt too much to stay sober, life becomes far too visceral and unpleasant without the support of your state-endorsed psychoactive crutches. Anyway, you’re gonna look really cool smoking a j in your brand-new MC5 t-shirt.
We have the power to change the world. As musicians, as people, in groups and individually. We fuck it all away, frittering away our chance for true freedom by following fashion, consuming hypostasized culture, enslaving ourselves with the madness of religion. We become afraid of real love, unable to bear the pain of true passion. So we seek out music that doesn’t challenge, threaten or inspire us. It’s all middle-class comfort music. Disneyland animatronic rock. We’re scared other people will realise how insane we are, we’re scared of being lonely and alone.
Me? I’m not scared of being a lone loony, the only sober person in the club. A week on Saturday, I’m travelling down to London to march against the war criminal Tony Blair. I don’t care if there’s 100,000 people or just ten. I can’t let the truth of our war crimes just evaporate while our cocksucking media smooths it all over. I’m going to change the world, even if I have to do it all by my fucking self, person by person. That’s what my life is about.
Fuck rock, fuck the MC5 and fuck you.