I came to this job thinking that I wanted to have a little fun and do things differently. I can’t be arsed doing album reviews as I just want to enjoy new music without having to analyze or think about it too much. I thought I’d just empty my brain out through my fingers and into your brains and only worry about the opinions of the people that enjoyed it.
Of course, that clearly meant that one of the things I should do was a crappy biopic of the Sex Pistols in Lego. Whilst drunk. You can find it below.
I’ve read most of the decent books about the Pistols, and (I think) all of the ones that they were closely involved with. John Lydon’s first autobiography is pretty decent and at the point he wrote it, it was the first attempt at telling the story of the Sex Pistols from the inside. It came out at a dip in his profile, when Public Image Limited wasn’t really doing much. It was two years before the Filthy Lucre reunion tour, and only fifteen years after his friend, Sid Vicious, died after murdering his girlfriend, Nancy.
At that point, the movie Sid and Nancy had come out, as well as The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle – the Malcolm McLaren-approved version of the band’s history and how he was responsible for its every success as part of some sort of masterplan.
Both were, and this is me being kind, highly problematic.
Sid and Nancy is relatively accurate in terms of how other accounts corroborate the sequence of events, at least.
The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle is McLaren’s onanistic fantasy version.
Rotten: No blacks, no dogs, no Irish (by the way – he’s quoting a common sign on boarding house and bed and breakfast windows there, and his being Irish in London, is referring to how black and Irish people were considered on the level of dogs in terms of how welcome they were in some areas) feels honest, and it utterly slates Sid and Nancy, and The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle.
The GRNRS (can’t be arsed to type all that out again, the initials will have to do from here) is dismissed as an egotistical fantasy that outright lies about how Malcom McLaren had a plan, and has led to the accusations of the Pistols being some sort of manufactured boyband.
Sid and Nancy is criticised for romanticising the deaths of two young people. One of whom was John’s best friend. I’ve since heard John talk about heroin, and whilst he does admit he tried it, he described in disgusted terms how a certain band’s ritualised way of taking it, in the shittiest of conditions, as if it were a Japanese tea ceremony, bemused and repulsed him. Regardless of anything else that happened, he lost his friend to it.
It was that honest and heartfelt commentary that led me to initially feeling that the two irredeemable figures in the Sex Pistols story were Malcolm McLaren and Nancy Spungen.
Rest assured, I still think Malcolm McLaren was a complete cunt.
However, in doing this fucking moronic little video, I had to rethink Nancy.
Now, I should say that Sid and Nancy does somewhat romanticise their relationship. And some people do regard them in the bullshit terms of being some sort of star-crossed lovers.
My unreconstructed feeling was that, I had no great attachment to Sid, Nancy was his downfall, and she took advantage of him, thinking he could and would be a star, but dooming him by getting him hooked on heroin, with their eventual co-dependence ruining Sid’s chance of a further music career, and leading to both their deaths.
I didn’t really think of her much, except as a groupie and an addict.
But the fact is, Nancy was murdered.
And when I went to look up a couple of facts, in order to get some sort of semblance of a straight timeline for this, I saw that she’d likely got schizophrenia and other conditions which she didn’t have any sort of proper help managing.
I was also reminded that Sid was a violent wanker, who attacked people without reason, blinded someone, and showed some of the traits associated with people who later went on to become serial killers, such as torturing animals. That line in his version of “My Way” possibly wasn’t a joke.
Yeah, I did hear John Lydon talk about his regret at losing his friend, and his feelings about heroin, and that affected me.
There’s possibly a narrative tract to go down which says both Sid and Nancy were pretty irredeemable figures, with Nancy being the one to set him on the path to where he ended up.
But yeah, this piece of drunken arseholery did make me think that maybe a whole load of that was down to misogyny, and that whilst it’s a real stretch to say that Nancy was misunderstood or misrepresented, she wasn’t around when Sid was being needlessly aggressive and glassing people, or killing animals.
Yeah, he had his own early issues, and his upbringing was fucked up, too. He wasn’t even sure what his real name was.
So, it’s possible to see them both as deeply damaged, and ill, kids. But that’s not really what the movie Sid and Nancy was doing, and I think John’s right in how that got it wrong.
And I’m not the person to do it, and this is probably as far as I’ll get in terms of making the case, but Nancy isn’t the smack-syringe-wielding harridan that I causally portrayed her as here. She’s a mentally ill kid who was sexually abused and murdered.
So, yeah, whilst I’m not really the person to try to rehabilitate her (in a manner of speaking), perhaps someone could have a look into that?
Oh, there’s a couple of funny bits in the video I made, I think, so don’t hate me for it completely.