Words: Dominic Knight | Illustration: Tabitha Knight
“I just don’t like taxidermy, even if it is fashionable.”
The words of a girl leaving a Jan Svankmajer exhibition echoed like a coin dropping in a Columbian cave, enraging a sleeping cartel into slowly torturing to death a mindless twenty-something with blunt rocks and bat shit.
It is not that the first part of this sentence is blasphemous, it’s the second that reverberates the hate through my bones. Everyone is entitled to whatever opinion they want on anything, it’s freedom of speech, but it’s the lack of self developed thought that really drives the nails home. True, by denying the wishes of the gods of trend, she negates this problem, but it is the fact that this thought process exists which is so painful to be aware of.
Nothing is sacred, every tiny part of alternative culture has been bastardised by whoever can get their hands on it. No more is there refuge from the standardised world of mainstream culture because alas, the far reaching greedy fingers of mainstream culture have delved into the depths of everything pure of heart and raped it until nothing is left bar an empty carcass crying quietly in the corner. It is not enough that we have to put up with the god awful bawling of lab rat assembly line pop starlets not only through television and radio, every shop, train station and service stop bathroom, but also the things we once held dear, are now fading slowly into a menial existence.
There are two sides to this just like any other argument, and the opposite side of this view is that through the accessibility of early art house cinema, tattooing, photography, music, art and literature as just a few of the main contenders, they have been brought to a wider audience, thus making it easier to obtain the things that we love and cherish. In essence there is nothing wrong with this, life is hard enough without having to spend weeks if not years hunting for something you only know exists from excited word of mouth, but if you have everything handed to you on a plate, what do you gain? Where is the childish tingle when you find that long sought after LP, the jubilation at finally finding a foreign horror movie with english subtitles or just the plain old warmth of a book that your parents read to you at bed time?
‘Give me convenience or give me death’, the title of a Dead Kennedys compilation released in 1987 rings even truer now than it did twenty six odd years ago. The line between the underground counter culture and the mainstream is becoming evermore blurred into obscurity. The use of iconic bands images on high street chain t-shirts is one of the most insulting things to not matter: ‘it’s only a t-shirt’, ‘no one cares’, ‘it’s getting the band to a younger audience’ etc…These are all true as statements, but they are missing the point of what these images mean to those that were and are still truly affected by the music these bands created. The day that an MC5 t-shirt cropped up in an episode of friends was a step too far, unless, in a parallel universe, Rachel was a radical member of the Black Panther party and was standing up for black rights in the late 60s, the MC5 would have never wanted their message to be distorted through the means of mind numbing pre-watershed televised drivel.
It is dangerous to become so elitist over the things that you perceive as yours unbeholden to others that would not ‘understand’, that would not see it the way you do. However, it is important to protect them from over saturation. This is what dries out industries and turns them into deserts with nothing more than huge glorified former version of themselves, stuck in the middle like an obnoxious oasis, drawing in the people that have seen the new shiny lights but turning away those that helped support the movement from the ground up.
In a way, there is a ridiculous self preservation here akin to the Luddites or the Amish, but if they are happy without technology and enjoy the principals of manual labour through the use of their very own blood and sweat, why force toasters and lawnmowers on them? The same stands for fans of Hardcore 80s punk or Taxidermy, why aim to start selling Flipper albums at service stations and D.I.Y animal stuffing kits in Argos?
For a conspiracy answer, we’ll go with: “So it thins the anti-establishment message and kills the bastard commies/terrorists/lefties.” Or, for the same but differently worded answer: “So we can make as much money from as much of the people as possible (whilst thinning it’s message thus power).”
We now all know and pretend it’s not happening to us, that we are being watched, listened to and followed by every single device in our homes that the government can get their hands on. So instead of being concerned with what’s fashionable or not, or who is stealing your beloved scene, get over it, go outside and climb a tree. Some shit just isn’t THAT important.