Son Of Vivienne Westwood To Burn $7 Million Worth of Punk Memorabilia
Punk was never something to be celebrated. Like any authentic counterculture, it was a product of social unrest and a youthful and abrasive retaliation against “the man” and various institutions. Whatever you stood for, punk was against it, or it just didn’t care. That’s why it’s no surprise that when Her Majesty the Queen officially declared 2016 the “Year of the Punk,” it was met with considerable backlash. Most vocally opposed to the decree is none other than Joseph Corré, son of Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren and the legendary Vivienne Westwood.
Corré announced yesterday that he plans on setting fire to his collection of punk memorabilia, which is worth over $7 million. The “ritualistic inferno” will take place on November 26th, the 40th anniversary of the release of the Sex Pistols’ debut single, Anarchy in the UK. The song, McLaren said in an interview, was “a call to arms to the kids who believe that rock and roll was taken away from them.” And after the Queen’s declaration—coinciding with the recent allocation of £99,000 to fund a series of punk-themed museum exhibitions in London—it seems as though rock and roll is once again being taken away from the kids.
“Talk about alternative and punk culture being appropriated by the mainstream,” says Corré. “Rather than a movement for change, punk has become like a fucking museum piece or a tribute act.” And the evidence for this is everywhere. In 1988, Vivienne Westwood was getting laughed at on public television for her designs. Nearly thirty years later, those very same designs were given their own exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Although the sappy, nostalgic part of me—and it is a very small part—will shed a little tear for all of the lost memorabilia, I can’t help but appreciate how perfectly this embodies the spirit of the punk movement. Nothing in that era was made to last. Watching it all burn will serve as a nod to punk’s unique recipe of apathetic, restless and revolutionary energies, its insistence on the temporality of material things and the eternality of grit.
In the coverage of this news, a few outlets have been declaring the upcoming bonfire and 2016 in general as the definitive sign that punk is officially dead, but that’s silly. Punk, my friends, will never die. Punk is always dead, and it is always being reborn.
Images via Canadian Science Journal and BBC.
Stay tuned to Milk, because punk will never die.