Built-in adolescence

The Filth And The Fury teaches us one thing only: that the rock icon is a product like any other. Words: Jack Mottram

WATCHING JULIEN TEMPLE'S SECOND crack at a Sex Pistols rockumentary makes you realise that to be a bona frde rock ’n’ roll star, you need to embrace excess wrth gusto. For the Pistols, this took the form of pre- watershed swearing, looking a brt scruffy and cobbling together some cod-nrhrlrst philosophy, The exception to this model was, of course, Sid VICIOUS, the rconrc Pistol who (to paraphrase Neil Youngl found rt better to burn out than to fade away, thereby guaranteerng himself a place on the bedroom walls of disaffected teens for, thus far, a quarter of a century.

The Vrcrous paradigm applies to all the rock ’n’ roll greats: rn short, lrve fast, die young. There's Robert Johnson, who sold hrs soul to the devrl in return for some killer tunes. There’s eri Hendrix, remembered as much for being a wrgged-out hrppy who choked on hrs own srck as for servrces to guitar playing. Modern trmes, too, have seen a decent number of corpse heroes, from Kurt Cobain to chhey Manic.

Why so? The standard answer rests on the assumption that all of the above are tortured artrstes, unable to cope wrth the vrCrssrtudes of fame, doomed by the pressures placed on them by an adorrng publrc. The truth, as per usual, rs that the mrlrtary-rndustrral complex offed the lot of them after constructing the aspirational myth of popstar as druggy Ubermensch.

In the beginning, you see, there were orchestras. Hothouses chock full of musrc-workers needing payment, whrch was all well and good untrl the advent of cheaply available, semi-

disposable musrc media. To avord paying out

Your idol is no more than an advertising vast sums to a 100 performers every trme a

slogan rendered in flesh and blood

new record was required to boost profrts, the record companres rnvented JchY. Here, small groups of workers could be paid buttons to produce, thanks to rmprovrsatron, near-limitless quantities of recorded material.

Post-World War II, Jazz was on the wane, and attracting far too many prnko liberals, so the record companies rnvented rock ’n’ roll. Thrs gave them a way to do their bit in the cold war by rnculcatrng the youth of the West wrth the rdea that to be great, one must be an rndivrdual, and that selfish talent rs the only way to rake rn the hard cash. More pertrnently, the solo talent, preferably an EIvrs-type hrck or a Cobain wrth mental health problems, could be pushed around, then relred upon to die reiatrvely young, Just like the r'iew-fangled washing machrnes wrth burlt-rn obsolescence.

The end result was that, post mortem, the record companres were granted access to near- pure profrt. it rs trme to cast aSrde romantrc illusions about your pop heroes and recognise the truth. Your rdol rs no more than an advertrsrng slogan rendered rn flesh and blood. Their tragrc ends are a classrc means of profrt maximisation. And, worse strll, your creative, rnsprratronal free sprrrt rocker rs no different from the plastrc, recognrsably manufactured teen-pop model, the man Just changes the settrngs on the factory mould.

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The Filth And The Fury embraces excess with gusto

The Quotes

‘Soap boxes don’t appeal to me. I don't want a party political broadcast on behalf of the Primal Scream party.’

Belle And Sebastian ’5 Stuart Murdoch on keeping a low profile.

'It may be the worst title ever for a children's show.’ Director Tony Reekie on the Children’s Festival centrepiece, Air 81 Water: Foetus.

'Do I think that there's a glamorous male actor today? No way!‘ Gregory Peck in Cannes bemoaning the lack of a Gregory Peck among today’s cinema fraternity

‘A woman has the right to execute a man who has raped her.’

Andrea Dworkin.

'Sometimes you are not a Rookie-enough individual.’

Kelly Macdona/d on why she has lost some plum roles.

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