Rise & Fall of the Clash (2012) - A Brief Reaction Regarding Authenticity In Rock
Watched THE RISE AND FALL OF THE CLASH, a pretty fascinating documentary from 2012 that examines the last years of the Clash, when the band kind of went crazy and steered itself, hard, into a ditch.
If you don't believe me how bad the Clash sucked at the end of their reign, listen to this whole thing:
You couldn't, could you? Okay then. As the Clash were in fact a truly great band--that wasn't really the Clash, at least mostly--here's this to wash that out of your ears.
One thesis of the film was that Bernie Rhodes, their manager, was as much a manufacturer of their activist left-wing image--or aesthetic, as I think it would more accurately be termed--as McLaren was of the Sex Pistols. And most probably, yeah. That doesn't change the effect of anything they did on listeners. On fans, on musicians, cartoonists, writers, and others inspired by them in various ways. The effect of the artist is more important than the artist. Bob Dylan was never as political or as activist as he was perceived to be. But he inspired other people who believed that he was, that his lyrics meant what strengthened them to create their own vision. (perhaps also one reason others' versions of his songs, like Fairport Convention's or Jimi Hendrix's, were often more interesting than his own) I don't think it matters they were largely manufactured. What an artist inspires in others is the point. The Clash inspired others to make music, to become political, and sometimes just to bang their heads. That's what matters. The Sex Pistols were even more manufactured, but they were good too, as
the Clash were, & think of everyone who became musicians because of what they believed the Clash and Sex Pistols were. And other kinds of artists as well.
The fake made it real.
It's not any less worthy than being inspired by a character in a movie or book, and many great people have been. And unless you know them personally, that's what an artist is in relation to you, a slice they mean you to see, the part of them they have shaped to work best in public. Even if it's sloppy they have chosen to be perceived that way. They're all playing characters, in relation to you. It may feel authentic. And that's fine. None of it actually is but art isn't meant to be real, just to feel real in some way till it's done. Suspension of disbelief includes the artist's public persona; Bowie certainly knew this and explored it nakedly, other stars just inhabit it. And, again, that's fine. What's going on on one of my comics pages isn't any less or more real than what you see in a movie or hear on a recording.
It matters more in art whether you convince, less that you "believe" as
such. That is what art is for. Art is not real, it dissects reality. Artifice is what art is. It's giving some kind of shape to an idea,
an inherently unnatural act--as are most human acts. An artist should embrace that, be conscious of it, to control it.
Then again, by the same logic Charles Manson can happen too. ___________________
"Eternity in the company of Beelzebub, and all of his hellish instruments of death, will be a picnic compared to five minutes with me & this pencil." --E. Blackadder, 1789 Questionable
words & pictures from John Linton Roberson