Establishment Notions of Englishness Essay Example
Establishment Notions of Englishness Essay Example

Establishment Notions of Englishness Essay Example

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  • Pages: 6 (1551 words)
  • Published: August 21, 2017
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2006: 3). The cultural movement of punk rock posed a challenge to conventional notions of English identity through various means including its iconography, music, lyrics, and public performances. Its roots can be traced back to The Velvet Underground in 1965 and expanded globally in the early 1970s through bands such as Australia's The Saints and the establishment of CBGB's in New York. In Britain, punk emerged in the context of political defeat, high unemployment, and anti-royalist sentiment surrounding Queen Elizabeth's Silver Jubilee. The disillusionment of the post-sixties era fueled punk's energy and was amplified by the prevalence of street protests that were not being heard by mainstream politics. As such, the Sex Pistols' anthem "Anarchy in the UK" resonated with youths looking for an alternative to the status quo. (Spicer, 2006: 3)In 2006, according to Spicer, punk emerged with a doctr


ine influenced by anti-establishment sentiments of the 60s. With young people feeling neglected and undervalued in Britain, it became a natural platform for them to make their voices heard and challenge the government. John Robb, a renowned journalist and singer from Manchester, believes that punk terrified the establishment, suggesting that their call for non-conformity was making an impact and challenging authority. However, critics are divided on whether punk was a significant cultural shift or just another youth fad. Hebdige argued that punks were dramatizing Britain's decline through a language that was relevant and down-to-earth compared to the prevailing rhetoric of Rock Establishment, making references to "fat hippies" and the "shred".The punk movement in the UK utilized crisis rhetoric prevalent in the media to create tangible and visible expressions. The formation of the punk fashion and

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style was a crucial aspect of building the movement in the media, which was then adopted by fans and became an obligatory part of punk culture. Acme Attractions and SEX stores on Chelsea's King's Road were significant in influencing punk fashion, attitude, political views, and musical tastes. These stores represented a lifestyle and forum for talent that reflected London's multiculturalism. The importance of self-presentation through fashion was evident from the beginning of the punk movement, as seen through the association between hooded bikers' photos and their music. The various stylistic ensembles adopted by punks expressed genuine aggression.The author of the article believes that no matter how strange the language used, the message can still be understood as long as it is presented in a common language. This is particularly true when comparing different artists and their styles, like the British bands of 1974. The Sex Pistols wore typical hood fashion, but it was done ironically, with holes cut into their Union Jack flag clothing, suggesting their dissatisfaction with the government. They also paired a sports jacket with a hooded print T-shirt, which rebelled against the idea of looking presentable. Meanwhile, The Who dressed in a more reserved smart/casual style with tailored pants and shirts, and even wore a Union Jack flag jacket, which represented loyalty. Ruth Adams discusses Hebdige's concept of hood fashion as a "bricolage" of official and popular English culture, using bits and pieces from both.In 2008, it was noted that punk culture was an amalgamation of political relations and history, resulting in an uneasy mixture. The culture challenged traditional notions of "Englishness" by taking what it wanted from English civilization. Punk icons

like the Hakenkreuz were even worn as a statement of rebellion, primarily to provoke the heterosexual and narrow-minded. This was in stark contrast to the dull fashion of the 70's when colors like ecru, brown, orange, and gold were considered stylish. This contrast made punks even harder to ignore. Punk music was known for its confrontational and blunt lyrics that often commented on social and political issues. The Sex Pistols' "God Save The Queen" was a prime example of this in 1977.The controversial vocal "God Save the Queen" was explicitly anti-monarchy and conveyed the view that the Queen was part of a fascist government. The lyrics included phrases such as "God save the queen, the fascist regime" and "There is no hope in England's dreaming" which portrayed England as black and without hope. This contrasted with the patriotic ideals being put forth during the Queen's Silver Jubilee. The song became a rallying call for those who did not agree with the Jubilee and felt steamrolled by the hype surrounding it. Punk rock as a whole represented a rebellion against mainstream ideology, delving into taboo subjects such as history, culture, politics, and sexuality in a thorough way never seen before. While punk rock is not known for its musical creativity or skill, it played an important role in challenging dominant political ideologies at the time.In 2006, John Robb described punks as individuals who use musical instruments to make sense of the universe by relying on three chords learned on second-hand guitars. This reflects a rebellion against societal norms beyond just language or fashion. Punk music is not about pleasing others or making them happy, but rather

doing what one wants without caring if others approve. This directly challenges the traditional English ideology of the seventies, which focused on keeping a stiff upper lip, being polite and nice. In her 1982 article, rock journalist Caroline Coon wrote about the Sex Pistols' live performances, noting that participation was key to their appeal, and that anyone in the audience could get up on stage and perform just as well as the bands already playing. This again reflects the aggressive, do-it-yourself attitude associated with punk music. Finally, Machin illustrates the punk ideology through an analysis of the tune of "God Save The Queen" by the Sex Pistols, in which much of the song remains on the first note, resulting in very little outward display of emotion or positive energy. This contained delivery epitomizes the punk genre's political ideology. [Image 3]In his essay, Machin (2010: 105) notes that the vocalist's high-pitched singing style conveys emotional strength, a suitable match for the nihilistic and cynical discourse of Hood. However, this strength is devoid of emotional pleasure; instead, there are short, occasional outbursts on the fourth note. Meanwhile, Philip Auslander (2004: 6) argues that musical performances, beyond opera and musical theatre, convey characterization in a non-conventional dramatic sense. He cites Frith who examines how musicians must enact both a star and song personality simultaneously. This notion particularly applies to Hood rock, which is explicit and inflated in its style. For instance, the Sex Pistols' front man John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) is perceived as an anarchist hood rebel unafraid to speak his mind and offend anyone in public, but in reality, he was bullied as a child for

his English accent at his grandparents' house in Cork, Ireland.This public presentation by Johnny Rotten illustrates how he challenged the traditional notion of Englishness through his anti-establishment persona, as evidenced by his quote: "I’d listen to rock ‘n’ roll, but I had no regard for it. It was excess and had nothing to do with anything relevant." Essentially, he rejected all things English and proposed himself as the change that the country needed. Auslander also discusses how the line between real individuals and their stage personas, as well as between different personas, can be unclear, particularly for autobiographical pop artists. This is relevant to analyzing John Lydon's performance as Johnny Rotten, as he embodied the punk movement and allowed audiences to connect with him on a personal level. As a working-class young person with no money who resented the royal family and government, he offered a real challenge to the complacency of the times. Al Spicer questioned whether punk was just another youth fad or if it truly challenged societal norms.According to Machin (2010:2), the punk movement in 1970s England was a form of rebellion against the norm. It was a protest against the complacent and severe ideals of the time, and a radical challenge to the loyal impressions of Englishness presented by the royal Jubilee. The hood sets, rather than simply writing protest songs, protested in every possible way, from their lyrics to their fashion choices and on-stage personas. They were extroverted and unapologetic, never caring about the consequences. Punk was one big protest against English ideals (Sabin 1999; Blake 2006; Spicer et al. 2006; Robb 2006; Adams 2008). As Hebdige (1991) notes in

Subculture: The Meaning of Style, this movement was about more than just music. Savage (2001) also expounds on this in England’s Dreaming: Sexual activity Pistols and Punk Rock.The following texts and image sources are about various topics related to music:

- Dave's book, "One chord admirations: power and significance in hood stone" was published in 1985 by Open University.
- Philip Auslander wrote an article titled "Contemporary Theatre Review" which was published in volume 14 by Routledge in 2004.
- Brian Boyd wrote an article in the Irish Times on August 8th, 2010, titled "The Making of a Rotten Public Image."
- Caroline Coon published a book called "The New Wave Punk Rock Explosion" in London in 1982 by Omnibus Press.
- Image 1 source: hypertext transfer protocol: //
- Image 2 source: hypertext transfer protocol: //
- David Machin's book, "Analyzing Popular Music: Image.Sound.Text" was published in London by Sage in 2010 and can be found on page 104.

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