Msome say punk is dead. An assessment that depends on whether you read the life-sustaining functions of punk in the ripped trousers, combat boots and fast, unclean drum patterns. Or a recently discussed photo of Toten Hosen on the way to the concert, on the train, with a mask, incredibly neat. Or the mass decision not to see the institutional order as unchangeable, but to shape the world at their own discretion. If that doesn’t work: escalation. Today’s radical climate activists wouldn’t be bad punks. Guy Johnny Rotten.
But punk is an ideal that cannot be reached. Punks are young because the struggle with institutions is pretty grueling. Or dead, because the destruction of the outer order usually goes hand in hand with the destruction of the inner. Guy Sid Vicious.
Which brings us to the Sex Pistols and the heart of punk music. Anyone who heard the Pistols, even later, long after the almost four years they existed, was political, if only because of the constant arguments with parents about the euphony of the music and teachers about unwritten dress codes at school. Danny Boyle of all people has now shot a six-part series about the British founders of the punk movement, and because dissent is the lifeblood of punk and John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten himself, the band’s singer, wanted to prevent publication with a lawsuit against the use of the joint music , you can be happy to see “Pistol” at all now. The place where the series is broadcast, Disney Plus, can actually only be acknowledged with Rotten’s sarcasm. In any case, the series was released in England on the day of the Queen’s jubilee, so she would still have had the opportunity to see it.
„We‘re pissed off, we‘re bored“
Back to the seventies, with David Bowie, who everyone adores right now, to a bar full of cigarette smoke and teenage skin. The later guitarist Steve Jones (Toby Wallace) gives his first speech to friends: “We’re pissed off, we’re bored.” We are invisible. Nobody gives a damn about us, so we don’t give a damn about the others either. All the dinosaur bands with their 15 minute guitar solos. “We have to be ourselves: four penniless working-class kids with no money and no talent.” Without tight suits like the Beatles. But full of anger.
The series is based on Jones’ biography, which gives him the role of the lonely problem boy besieged by women. But you can also learn from him what life was like for the weakest in London in the 1970s. Humiliated and sexually abused by his stepfather, abandoned by his mother, “Jonesy” dropped out of school and stole everything that got in his way: amplifiers, cars, candy bars. Pants at Vivienne Westwood’s “Sex” boutique, however, where he is caught and Jones does what he has been taught. Cheeky, cocky and without ever having learned notes, he wins first Malcolm McLaren, Westwood’s partner, as a manager, then Chrissie Hynde, later the singer of the Pretenders, as a friend.
Danny Boyle gives all his cinematic skills to this simmering, ever-growing, rearranging scene. Accompanied by old film scenes, sketches and historical recordings, he lets them turn backyards into parties, crash TV shows and propose to each other in a double-decker bus until the end comes suddenly. Fast editing, bright lights, and, with John Lydon’s approval, loud, loud music.
From Westwood’s shop, where it all begins, where the revolution is proclaimed and Johnny Rotten auditioning, Anson Boon plays the brilliant and devastated, where fans are stranded, comes the costume design, and although the cast of fashion designer Westwood stars Talulah Riley, Elon Musk’s ex-girlfriend, If there were any reason for sarcasm again, her character also shows how fashion and music shaped the movement together, how Westwood sewed her radical social theory into the clothes of her clique early on, how she took what was hidden onto the street and to the next scandal waited, without the usual brawls of the Sex Pistols concerts. No limits, no fear, from this culture of thought at a time when saying “shit” on television still caused offense, it could have been more.
But more from a time when everything revolved around music, inspiration and life-changing moments like when Mick Ronson tuned into his Les Paul guitar on tour with Bowie. The musical tradition of the Sex Pistols has never been amateurish, just not conformist. Or, as Malcolm McLaron put it in the series: “Whether you can play or not is not the criterion. The criterion is whether you have something to say.”
Pistol runs on Disney+.