Saturday, October 9, 2010

Positive Punk -The South of Watford Documentary (ITV, 1983)

When I started this blog I always considered it as much a labour of love or a museum exhibition as a research project. In that sense, it seems relevant to look at this attempt at a documentary, although I’m very unclear it adds anything of actual worth, its real value being as an artifact of a bygone era rather than anything genuinely informative.

Music journalist Mick Mercer first bought it to my attention in mentioning its existence in The Gothic Rock Black Book (Omnibus Press, 1988) and indeed deriding it as "a truly desperate effort". Although Mick (who is a very nice guy and without whose ramblings this blog would be impossible) writes much that I disagree with, in this case it’s difficult to dispute his conclusions.

The doco is hosted by Michael Moorcock , a fantasy author I have utmost respect for, but whose musical ventures I more usually associate with Hawkwind or Blue Oyster Cult so what he has to do with Goth I can't begin to imagine. The lengthy footage surrounding The Sex Pistols and early Siouxsie, while interesting seems like filler of questionable relevance to the idea being put forward that punk was in a process of revival.

I suggest you watch it for yourself. I doubt you will learn much, but you will get to watch some very cool footage of Blood and Roses & Brigandage.

Part 1 of 3

Part 2 of 3

Part 3 of 3

Mike Moorcock makes some interesting if brief retrospective comments on his website concerning both the documentry and the nature of subcultures.

"I did a documentary (rather messed up by the production company) about punk revival in, as I recall, 1982, in which I interviewed Siouxsie and Glen Matlock, amongst others. I saw the punk movement being very similar in its dandyism, resistance to fashion and so on to the best of what I'd been involved in since the early 60s, with different haircuts. Just as we were misrepresented in the media, so was punk…..Movements like the first 'alternate society' of the 60s onward were fired by genuine anger at injustice and inequality. You can't revive those movements or reproduce them, but you can come up with your own version. Dandyism seems to go with it -- that is a willingness to resist current fashion and display that resistance in the way you dress. Once the style has become a fashion, however, it's no longer functioning as it did."

"It was a one-off for me and I didn't want to do another because of the amount of editorial interference. Forgetting I was miked (a la G Brown) I was asked by Souixsie what the producer/director etc. were like and I said 'the usual wankers etc.'. There were some funny moments, most of which I can't really repeat here but had to do with sulphate. I did my best to concentrate on the women in punk and wanted Gay Advert on the show. It was good to connect with Glenn Matlock again. I'm pretty sure there's a full-length tape or CD of the show. I might have one. Not one of the most successful progs I've been involved in. Somehow I let myself say lines like 'Sweaty old punk is back'. I did get some insights into why punk was so popular with certain people from the conventional world."

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