Wake Up Punk (a film by Nigel Askew) – film reviewWAKE UP PUNK – a film by Nigel Askew

Official release 9th May 2022

Punk icon Vivienne Westwood stars alongside her son Joe Corré in new documentary, WAKE UP PUNK. Directed by Nigel Askew, the documentary had its World Premiere at the Glasgow Film Festival yesterday ahead of its UK & Ireland release on 9th May.  “WAKE UP PUNK was ignited because of the establishment’s misappropriation of Punk, a fightback from the heart of the movement…” says Nigel Askew.  Guest reviewer Alex Main posted this superb piece on his Reservoir Droogs Facebook page after attending the premiere and has agreed Louder Than War can share it. 

WAKE UP PUNK – a film by Nigel Askew.  (World Premiere 12/03/22 Glasgow Film Theatre)  Reviewed by Mainy. 

BURN BABY BURN.

Way back in pre plague times, 2016 to be exact, Joe Corré, son of Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood, torched an alleged five million quids worth of punk memorabilia.
And predictably the response from older self described punks was to collectively lose their shit.

In addition there was the push back from the media who fuelled the fire by selling it as a pointless stunt by less of an agent provocateur, and more a wealthy dilettante getting his knickers in a twist over the mainstream making cash from yesteryears chaos.
From afar I considered it all with a weary eye.

At the time I thought that he could do what he damn well pleased with his own collection. I also agreed with him that punk had been absorbed, embraced, and exploited by the mainstream, and that this in itself was the curse of history repeating itself.

Show me a seismic culturally movement and I’ll sell you a Che Guevara poster.

The commodification of rebellion is chapter four in the big book of capitalism, but it wasn’t supposed to happen to punk was it? .

Oh how naive.

Like the hippies before, and the teddy boys before them, we clung to the arrogant delusion of how this time it would be different.

The bit I did struggle with was the five million going up in smoke. I can think of five million causes that could have benefitted from that cash injection.

However, now that I’ve seen the documentary Wake Up Punk from Nigel Askew, I’m reframing my take on it all.

With the documentary stepping away of the mainstream narrative Nigel Askew has given Joe Corré the freedom to have a second opportunity to get his point across and, surprise surprise, without the media filter it is a far more thoughtful and considered point than we were being sold.

The act of so called cultural vandalism was only partially about kicking against the commodification of punk. The real point of the conflagration of nostalgia was to draw focus back to punk being an empty vessel without activism being part of it.

Or to distill it down to the most basic premise. If it isn’t challenging anything is it punk?

In this instance the activism was rooted in challenging the lack of movement on addressing climate change. Something that I can honestly say that I never picked up on at the time.
I’d seen his setting the items alight, but I hadn’t seen Vivienne Westwood speaking on the riverbank to a crowd about green energy.

I’m hindsight, and with added awareness, it is obvious that this was a case of media misdirection.

Look at the silly pyromaniac burning your past. Don’t look behind the curtain.

Ever get the feeling that……… well you’ve heard it all before?

As the final credits rolled it would be hard to argue that it didn’t provide a timely counter punch to what was debatably a campaign to discredit the intentions of the original act of protest.

In closing it would be remiss of me if I failed to shine a light on the director Nigel Askew. To say that the project was in a safe pair of hands doesn’t do him justice. It’s rather damning him with faint praise.

From the clear homage to The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle in how he approached much of it, to the set designs, to the editing of interviews I could argue that few, if any, could have done it better. He hasn’t in fact simply told a story, but became part of it. Bravo sir. Bravo.
Maybe it is time to reclaim punk as an attitude, a force for change, rather than a warm reminder of another era delivered to you by Amazon.

The official release is on the 9th of May. Put it in your diary. Your Sex Pistols anarchy one that you bought from HMV.

All words Alex ‘Mainy ‘Main.

Copied and pasted by Ged Babey. 

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Ged Babey is 56. from Southampton, has written since 1985 for Sound Info, Due South, various fanzines and websites, contributed to Record Collector magazine and was sole author of 'Punk Throwback' fanzine -the name of which was taken from an insult hurled at him by the singer with a young band he managed for a while. Ged believes that all good music and art has a connection with punk rock.

1 COMMENT

  1. Couldn’t agree more with the sentiments described here. The mainstream acceptance and ‘luvviefication’ of punk is sickening. All you so called punks creaming yourselves over the latest display of your favourite punk rock artifacts at the V&A. The media sponsored cheese and wine launch of some ex punk star’s latest memoir. FFS do me a favour. Is that what you all really wanted? Do you really want your youth turned into a f*cking museum piece? Well I don’t. Absolutely not.

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