Film::The Sex Pistols – The Filth and the Fury

Over the weekend I pulled out the Sex Pistols movie The Filth and the Fury, which came out back in 2000 on New Line Video. I hadn’t seen the movie in a few years and I found it to be quite a treat to watch again. It really reminded me of the importance of the Sex Pistols, giving valueable insight into the context of their rise and fall. The film is full of great interviews and tons of live footage, and also a good history lesson on the state of Britain in 1976.

In 1976, England was very different from the way it is now. Everyone was on the dole and if you didn’t come from money there was a pervading feeling that you weren’t going to ever amount to anything. The Labour Party had promised so much after the war and yet done so little. At this time, there was a massive garbage strike that had gone on forever which was symptomatic of the way things were at the time. It was also a period when dinosaur monster acts like Uriah Heep and Emerson Lake and Palmer ruled the airwaves, but at the same time there was this growing feeling that there had to be something else out there. Moreover, it seemed like “musicians fell from the sky,” and that not just anyone could play in a band.

Then there is Malcolm Mclaren, who figures in there somewhere as either a masterful puppeteer, a great swindler of ideas, or just completely full of shit. Mclaren took the Teddyboy thing, based around the idea of being the peacock in the room, to a more anti-establishment latex bondage fetish concept which figured into the making of the Sex Pistols image, according to him. Mclaren really wanted a band to compete with the dinosaurs. He wanted the Sex Pistols to be the Bay City Rollers. The Sex Pistols are immediately a pretty original invention, waging a war of ideas. They pull a Monkees of sorts and start writing their own songs. Rotten does his robot like dances and according to Sid, he(Sid) invented that most famous of punk dances – the pogo. God Save The Queen becomes Britain’s alternative national anthem. The film also discusses the entrance of Nancy and how she was the last thing that trainwreck Sid needed in his life. Finally, we see the American tour which began in Atlanta and completely fell apart at Winterland in San Francisco.

When watching the film it becomes even more apparent that this kind of thing could never happen again. Cultural unrest was the biggest catalyst for the event called The Sex Pistols. Generally, by the time the mass public hears about a cool scene or musical phenomenom, it is over anyway. Punk wasn’t destroyed by outsiders, it was annihilated from within. To quote Lydon, “The punks ruined it. They adopted a uniform image and attitude, and the whole thing was about being yourself.” Now we can only look back upon the heyday of something that was new, vibrant, full of life, and challenging to our social conventions.
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