Thursday, 1 January 2009

Who writes this shit?

According to the current Radio Times:

"Rock'n'roll's remit has always included riling the establishment and shocking older generations."

(from the listing for a programme called, yawn, Lock Up Your Daughters - Sex, Drugs and Rock'n'Roll in the UK, a title which feels, now, rather as The Genius of Eric Coates would have felt in the UK of 1959.)

The very fact that Radio Times - 30, even 20 years ago a sober, essentially pre-pop guide to the BBC's activities - is as it is should, in itself, confirm just how played out and misleading every assumption behind that statement is.  The complete absorption of pop/rock culture into Britain's ruling elite culture is confirmed, among much else, by the mutation of the very magazine that feels the need, for its own dubious reasons, to attempt to keep the old myths going.  This would be comparatively acceptable, if still deeply depressing, were it not part of a deeper, long-term cross-party campaign to dress up profoundly reactionary, anti-progressive politics as vaguely "hip" because At Least We've Given Robert Plant A CBE.  At least with the old Radio Times, as with the establishment in general at that time, when it was conservative it admitted it.  Nobody could think that a magazine that printed a letter moaning that gay people ought to be happy to be called poofs, as it did in 1976, was particularly progressive, and indeed it was not.  But don't let yourself get fooled into thinking that a magazine which prints the above is, inherently and of itself, dramatically better.  The same BBC that held within it the Curran/Trethowan lineage also had space for the Greene/Milne tendency - Birt destroyed both. Listings such as the above are practically made for those who will regard themselves as "rebels" while blaming "immigrants" for the economic crisis.


  1. Indeed, the key word being 'always', conveying that there was nothing before rock and roll of consequence, and thus robbing all of context. This sums up why the whole concept is so played out today; the wilful banishment of history with the desire to set things in stone, to canonize what was never intended to a permanent blueprint.

  2. Indeed so: the whole *point* of rock'n'roll, at the beginning (at least in Britain, much less so in the US), was that it was disposable and of the moment when everything else seemed ancient and permanent. It wasn't *meant* to last. Oddly, my feelings about it as a social democrat are fairly similar to the Blairites' feelings as neoliberals about the original ideals of the NHS or British Rail - that it was great and necessary at the time, but that you need something more now. That correlation worried me for a time, but it doesn't now that I realise that my disdain for the institutionalisation of rock culture comes, essentially, from the same root as my support for the renationalisation of railways.