Jesus Jones writes on Joe Corré, setting fire to millions worth of rare punk memorabilia in protest saying that punk has become nothing more than a “McDonald’s brand … owned by the state, establishment and corporations.”
Roughly seventeen years ago, Malcolm McLaren, the former manager of Sex Pistols declared the punk scene dead and decided that he’d be in the race for being the mayor of London. His manifesto promised to legalise brothels and sell alcohol in libraries. So it is no surprise then, that Joe Corré, son of the often notorious McLaren is in the news for burning rare punk memorabilia, including rare Sex Pistols recordings, a Sid Vicious doll embossed with a swastika and some clothing belonging to Johnny Rotten. Also set on fire were vintage collections that his mother, Vivienne Westwood designed. Westwood also joined businessman Corré on this rebellious display.
“If you want to understand the potent values of punk, confront taboos. Do not tolerate hypocrisy. Investigate the truth for yourself;” Corré said to a crowd of dozens, who had gathered on the shore of London’s Chelsea district to view the spectacle. Although he did announce his intentions to the world in March, no one seemed to care enough to stop the sad and selfish act of a multimillionaire hiring a PR team, to advertise him burning things he had little care of in the name of punk memorabilia.
When it did happen last week, the world almost instantaneously went berserk with brickbats and bouquets alike. Besides being wasteful, the whole incident raised three pertinent questions. The first, what makes this a punk act? The second, what right does he have to burn stuff that means something to a lot of people? And the third, why did he really do it?
To answer those questions, one must know who Joe Corré really is. Besides being the entitled son of privileged parents, Corré founded the lingerie company, Agent Provocateur. To start the brand he claims to have sold a lot of the collectibles he burned, which he apparently bought back a decade later. Does that make him a corporate? Sure it does. Does that allow him to be a punk? Nope. But he insists on giving his answer to the question stating that, “I think this is the right opportunity to say: you know what? Punk is dead. Stop conning a younger generation that it somehow has any currency to deal with the issues that they face or has any currency to create the way out of the issues that they face. It’s not and it’s time to think about something else.”
What makes this borderline punk act such a farce is the fact that, although this is a very rebellious act in its true spirit, it is really being enacted out by a corporate douche so that he can throw away £5 million, just cause he can afford it and just cause he can and just cause he has to be like his daddy, which he clearly isn’t. Johnny Rotten, whose own clothes have been in the line of fire, quite literally, has been spitting and fuming. But Corré is happy to disregard him, stating, “I don’t think he has had anything relevant to say for the past 10 or 20 years.”
Long Live Punk!
Corré might want to take credit for it all, but he hasn’t been the first one to burn things down and blow money off. Guns ‘n’ Roses have done it. So have The Ramones, ask Duff MnKagan, now that he is sober. It was definitely anarchy in the UK, on shores of the Thames on the 40th anniversary of the single— Anarchy in the UK.
What instigated the champagne supernova to burn down history besides sheer stupidity is the fact that he is a rich and could play mama’s brat on a boat. In 1995, musicians Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty, set ablaze one million pounds of their hard earned money. This was also a political gesture. This was a gesture some would argue that was more effective than the bratty act of burning mummy and daddy’s scraps from their storage space.
Like Drummond and Cauty’s act of oppression, Corré’s act has a familiar story-line. Earlier this year, the celebrations of punk’s 40th anniversary by cultural institutions such as the British Library and the Museum of London were announced and that ticked Corré off, who went ahead and started this process—was it bad liquor, bad drugs, who the fuck knows? The point is that Corré burned some punk memorabilia as a point to argue the cultural side of London paying homage to Punk, which in itself is a bunch of baloney, which turned out to be a circus act of burning not only memorabilia, but effigies of politicians.
Now, this may not be the same as the Sex Pistols chartering The Queen Elizabeth tourist cruiser to sail past Parliament in a publicity stunt, a stunt that would go on to impact on music, design, fashion and even politics, but unfortunately we live in a world of sugar coated punk and corporate treachery so much so that this whole incident reminds one of the swede rockers, Caesars and their track Jerk It Out.