Punk rock was many things to many people- a fantastically indefinable force that had a huge cultural impact. The latest claim by one of those buck toothed and too scrubbed clean looking with cardboard voices, handbag skin and polystyrene heart American news readers on Fox news that Donald Trump’s latest trip to the UK has had the cultural and political impact of the Ramones blowing away prog rock in 1976 is as dumb and genius as that band themselves.
Greg Gutfeld reacted to President Trump’s ongoing NATO-England-Finland tour by saying that he should be considered “the punk rock president.”
“Donald Trump is The Ramones of politics,” he said.
Gutfeld said that the British left’s “baby Trump” balloon had “absolutely no effect” because Trump’s impact on the world is “bigger than a balloon.”
He said that in the 1970s, British music was defined as soft rock or progressive rock — naming bands like Air Supply and Genesis.
Gutfeld said that, like Trump today, as the decade progressed, The Ramones, an American band from Queens, N.Y., landed in London and “destroyed that whole scene.”
1.There is a great argument that Trump and other demons of the right like Thatcher were one of the logical conclusions of punk rock and rock n roll. We once toyed with this idea about Thatcher here. The end game of this ‘I’m an individual and fuck everyone else’ that was at the heart of sixties and seventies pop culture is now being played out by the likes of Trump on fh big and dangerous world stage with the same kind of political nous and in touch with the public sneer as a limousine riding, spoilt brat, ageing rock star with a bloated ego and well glued on toupee. Of course there is another punk narrative that the music was like the small mammals gnawing away at the bloated Dinosaurs of the rock-stocracy – the vain, pompous, out of touch arrogant lumbering beasts of showbiz and their attendant cosy media but I guess Fox News would be less keen to promote that idea!
2. It’s always been a mistake to assume that punk was a glorious liberal left revolution of the good people. Right from the start there was a confusion of ideas. The Ramones themselves were hardly beating the drum for the liberals apart from Joey and, famously, Johnny Ramone was always a standard bearer for the right and surely would have possibly been more than happy to have played Trump’s inauguration.
3. The word rebel has been hijacked and stolen by the super rich. Where it once meant defying the mainstream and the establishment those same forces have co-opted the word and sold it back. In the 21st century the word rebel means a vain billionaire who was gifted a fortune, stamping his tiny feet on everyone else and getting applauded for it. The establishment, on their 600 bedroom yachts, now pretend that they are Robin Hood like figures whilst they ‘steal from the poor to give to the rich’ which has become the new mantra and the protest singers with a thousand million in their bank accounts are part of this process.
4. People used to say keep politics out of rock n roll but it might be better to keep rock n roll out of politics.
5. Pop culture’s great mantra of ‘the lie is better than the truth’ worked perfectly in the fuzzy world of showbiz but in the 21st century it has become the heart and soul of the new mainstream. Lying is now virtuous. The truth the first casualty of the digital war. Slick PR and distorted media tricks learnt from the pop culture hype machine power all the dictator-presidents from Putin to Trump in the age of the tweeting dictator or the twit-tator.
6. The Ramones and part of the punk movement appeared to sneer at the hippies which may have been necessary at the time to create some space in pop culture but once it became the prevailing idea in culture it was the death of any counter culture ideas which were shrunk down to buying a toy Buddha to put in your expensively pointed front room.
7. Actually the Ramones and punk didn’t sweep away prog rock…those bands just got bigger and bigger once they were removed from the so called frontline. The back to basics retro rush of the Ramones may well have been genius and the music sounds great to this day but in some ways it was the first of the curmudgeons who wanted music to go backwards to the ‘good old days’ . Facebook is now littered with elderly men who think ‘music nowadays’ is terrible because it left them behind. Like some kind of weird dark matter quirk in the universe, the Ramones were in the unique position of fast forwarding the future and dragging back to the past at the same time!
8. Donald Trump captures all this in his 1-2-3-4 politics. The complex world situation boiled down to half thought out tweets. The smart pretending to be dumb but maybe actually dumb schtick of the Ramones sat on the rocket to russia. The ‘America first’ rock n roll boiled down to its core and stuck through a fuzz box.
9. Maybe despite all its love and peace promises the sixties was the true Trump decade. The high decibel shouting and stadium posturing with a big dose of the seventies selfish slapped on top. Like all great pop culture it’s about the hair more than the content. It’s about the high decibel bluster and not the melody. It’s one of those backstage controlled by hundreds of passes that reads of privilege and puffed out chest bravado. It’s I wanna be Me I am an individual fuck everyone else turned into a political movement.
10. I still love the Ramones records.