Monday, March 02, 2009

Hey Joe

While watching "The Future Is Unwritten," Julian Temple's documentary about Joe Strummer, it struck me to what degree rebellion, expressions of anomie and so-called countercultural movements are actually collaborations between the oppressive and the oppressed, between tyranny and freedom, between the mainstream and the margins. To think of these forces as antagonistic is almost absurd. They rely on each other, they desire each other. They need each other.

Hey Joe: Those dilapidated council flats - they weren't boarded up to keep you out, they were boarded up to invite you in. Society's inequities beg for the cleansing fire of scorn and ridicule, and society created you for just that purpose. The bourgeois in their cozy little homes, they know they're in for it. They wouldn't open up the paper if they didn't, dontcha know. They'd hardly recognize themselves but for you. They're grateful, though this little game does not permit them to admit it. Look how vital and alive the dreary city seems when a clutch of punks animates its ghastly, concrete paths. The cars, the cops, the buildings. The money and the food. They're not your antagonists in this play, they're your props. Downpressor man? He invented you to kill him. It's the ugliness in the world that lets you make it beautiful, the horror that lets you be the hero, the evil that lets you do good. This world was made for you, and you make it whole. But I think you knew that anyway. I think you found it out. I think you thought it was a bad thing, and that's why you ran away. But maybe it wasn't a bad thing.