‘Toon and text by John Auchter
Who else thought when you first heard Basket of Deplorables: “That’s the perfect name for a punk rock band”? Well, I definitely did, and it got me thinking.
Punk rock was, in general, a reaction to what rock and roll had become by the mid-1970s. It had more or less bypassed its original audience: the young and the disaffected. Radio stations had become categorized, playlists were standardized, established acts were given every advantage over the new and different. There were people who wanted to take rock and roll back, make it great again (to borrow a phrase).
Along came the Sex Pistols. Or more precisely, an awful person named Malcolm McLaren caught the punk rock wave and ruthlessly promoted the Sex Pistols. He was really quite ahead of his time in leveraging media for free, viral publicity. For McLaren, the music was secondary to the packaging. The well-being of band members was inconsequential. Infamy was the product.
The Sex Pistols only ever had one studio album and one very short train-wreck of a United States tour. At the end of the last song of the last concert, lead singer Johnny Lydon (known then as Johnny Rotten) famously asks to the audience, “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” and dropped the microphone.
It was a moment of stunning honesty. At that point, Lydon and the fans were all disillusioned. They had wanted to believe they were part of something meaningful (and maybe they were), but now it was pretty obvious that they had been totally used along the way. I’m wondering if there’s going to be a “mic drop moment” with the Trump campaign.
John Auchter draws cartoons. Lots and lots of them. You can find them at his incredibly popular website auchtoon.com.