Tonight We're Going To Give It 35%

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Here's your question and answer of the week from the Punknews Formspring:

Q: What's your favorite photo?

A: One of the great things about punk is the plethora of pics from all eras and so many of them have such character. One of my favorites is the photo of Billy Idol, Siouxsie Sioux, and Debbie Juvenile from an early Sex Pistols show.

It's great because it says so much about the people and the scene at the time. Look at how young Billy Idol is. I think this was before he was in Chelsea even, but you can just tell, by that hair and that sneer that he's going to be a rock star. When you think about it, how crazy is it that the sometimes roadie for the Sex Pistols went on to sell many, many, many, many more records than they did.

Then look at Siouxsie. Her shirt, which I think was made by Vivienne Westwood, shows two gay cowboys. Even today that shirt would be a real jaw dropper in public. Plus the concept of two gay cowboys is a really neat idea of commenting on concepts of masculinity. I wonder if that shirt was even more wild back then, of if society (or more specifically, the art/music scene) is actually more conservative now than it was in the mid -70's.

Likewise, Debbie Juvenile's swastika shirt is just as interesting. (Of course we all know that Nazis are bad, evil people.) But, what is Debbie saying by wearing it? Is she just trying to shock? Is she saying that symbols themselves only have the power that you give them and that the swastika actually means nothing? Is she commenting on the evils of countries? Is it in bad taste to just wear a symbol? Is bad taste just a small sin, or is it signifying of deep character flaws?

Who knows and I don't think there is one answer. Likewise, you could never wear that shirt today. I wonder why that is? (I'd also like to point out, that I think in the UK, the swastika is perceived slightly differently then in the USA. In the USA, the swastika seems to represent the horrors of racism. But, in the UK, while it means that, I think it also represents the army that bombed and killed many Britons. I think in that the swastika as perceived in the UK would be analogous to how the Taliban is perceived in the USA right now, though I could be wrong).

What I love about these old pictures is that they raise any many questions as they answer.

-John G

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