Nevermind the Bollocks

Posted: March 6, 2012 by lildanadoo in Uncategorized

My actual album

One of my most prized possessions is my 1977 “Nevermind the Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols” picture disc album. (It’s okay to be jealous!) Now you’re probably wondering what this record has to do with sex and sexualities; well, the answer is everything. The Sex Pistols initiated the punk movement in the UK, which was a counter to the free love movement that started in the 1960’s. The Sex Pistols loudly and adamantly forced their point of view into the music world. I choose this record because it is in its original state, the way people originally encountered it, and is representative of this movement that sent shock waves.

 The Sex Pistols were formed in a store front on Kings Street in London named Sex. The store sold rubber and leather fetish wear and clothing. This store was made in a counter to the Teddy Boy and “hippy” fashion of the 70’s. The band members often frequented the store and became the Sex Pistols. Since the store represented a rebellion from the mainstream society, the clientele also assumed this idea of rebellion and insurgence. The name of the band, according to the manager Malcolm Mclean, was for “sexy young assassins, pistols being a gun and also a penis” (The Filth and The Fury). (However, everything Mclean has said is up for debate).  The band had a massive effect on music, fashion and culture reveals the impact that their music made at the time.

 

Issues of sex and sexuality litter the Nevermind the Bollocks album. The song “Submission” describes the act of performing oral sex on a woman as disgusting. With the lines:  “Got me pretty deep baby/ I can’t figure out your watery love/ I gotta solve your mystery/ You’re sitting it out in heaven above/ Submission going down, down/ Dragging me down submission/I can’t tell ya what I’ve found.” Having this confusion and disgust towards female anatomy placed in popular culture affects the way that the female body is viewed. The punk rock movement is heavily dominated by white men. This male domination has an extreme effect on the music itself, which makes it very misogynistic and sexist. 

 The song “New York” is directly bashing the band the New York Dolls, commenting on their drag and gender bending style.  “I think about time/ You changed your brain/ You’re just a pile of shit/ You’re coming to this/ Ya poor little faggot/ You’re sealed with a kiss.” This attitude towards sexuality holds on to this masculinist idea and reinforces heteronormaility. Punks are known to be violent, aggressive and shocking. The Sex Pistol’s bassist, Sid Vicious, was known for hurling himself into the crowd (he also hurled random objects such as beer cans and bicycle chains into the crowd) , injuring himself on stage, and being extremely outrageous. This aggressive attitude, mixed with the intolerance of sexualities and non-heteronormative gender views is a breeding ground for hate, closed mindedness and violence.

 Their music also deals with gender reproductive issues as well. In 1967 the Abortion Act was passed, which made abortions legal in England, Scotland and Wales. In 1973 the Roe v Wade act legalized abortion in the United States. As a protest the band created the song “Bodies.” This song is a disgusting detailed description of an abortion. The lines:

 Throbbing squirm,
gurgling bloody mess
I’m not a discharge
I’m not a loss in protein
I’m not a throbbing squirm

Fuck this and fuck that
Fuck it all and fuck a fucking brat
She don’t wanna baby that looks like that
I don’t wanna baby that looks like that
Body, I’m not an animal
Body, an abortion

The real kicker is at the end when “Mommy” is shouted out. These lines are extremely violent and disturbing, and are shocking to be found in music. Yet to see how these movements were initially viewed is extremely prevalent for examining these issues today.

 The band was viewed as so outrageous that they were banned by the BBC, every independent radio station in London banned their music, and they were banned from performing in Nashville. It is shocking that a band which was viewed as so extreme holds such conservative and misogynist views. Yet the songs are not all so conservative and judgmental: the song “God Saves the Queen” is about being against social conformity.

 Interestingly, the band broke-up after one year and only released the Nevermind the Bollocks album, yet with such short success, and limited product they still made such an impact and continue to make this impact. This album is therefore representative of their cover as a whole, and each song influenced music and politics in a drastic way. The Sex Pistols created new environments, which allowed for people to experience the expression of individuality in a different way. Even though the songs were hostile and controversial they still allowed for a space for people to dress eccentrically.  This also was a space women could, and did freely express themselves without the pressure of the enforcement of conventional gender rules.

The punk rock movement was heavily based in the western world. Although the music did cross borders, it did not have much, or anything to do with undeveloped or third world countries. But the band did bring awareness to class issues. The members of the Sex Pistols were from extremely impoverished families and gave a voice to the unheard, marginalized youth. The punk scene continues to be a crude and controversial genre, but has broadened as a result. Punk has branched off into many different genres: Oi , Crusty, Emo, Riot Grrls, Gypsy etc. These spaces do create confinements but also broaden the genre to encompass many different ideas.  Gypsy punk bands include transnational issues of racism and globalization into the punk scene, typified by the Ukrainian punk bandGogol Bordello.  Punk still exists on an international scale and scrutinizes issues of race, gender, sex and class. This genre has been heavily influenced by the Sex Pistols, “Nevermind the Bollocks…” album.

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