The Culture Show: Girls Will Be Girl, BBC2 -TV review: 'Never mind the blokes – this guide to the women of punk was required viewing'
Ellen E Jones
Ellen is The Independent's TV critic. She writes a daily review of Last Night's TV and a weekly 'Inside TV' column for the i paper, as well as a column on general topics for the main paper most Wednesdays. Ellen is a former Hollywood correspondent and a contributing editor to Little White Lies, she's written on TV, film, lifestyle, travel and politics for publications including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, Esquire and Total Film.
Tuesday 01 July 2014
The Culture Show: Girls Will Be Girls (BBC2), a documentary about women in punk, should be required viewing for all little girls at nursery school. True, the swearing might be a bit much for four-year-olds, and the feminist theorising of presenter Miranda Sawyer would probably go over their heads, but they'd surely relate to the Slits' lead singer Ari Up's admirable lack of self-consciousness. "She was very relaxed about her body," according to guitarist Viv Albertine. "She pissed on stage – not to be shocking, but because she basically, desperately needed a piss."
Television is fond of shows in which Very Important Old Blokes (Danny Baker, Jools Holland etc) discuss the music of their teens with retrospective reverence. Earlier this year, Albertine was a lone female voice on one such show, Danny Baker's Rockin' Decades. Now she has a book out detailing her own memories of the punk era, the excellently titled Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys. This must mean it's the turn of Very Important Old Birds to get misty-eyed about their first LPs and ticket stubs – and about time too.
Sawyer led us from the Slits' first gig in 1977 to the end of this first wave, taking in artistic expression, equality and attitudes to sex (mainly "no, thanks", apparently). Interviewees included a forthright Chrissie Hynde, an admiring Don Letts and Jordan, the in-store model for Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood's Sex boutique, still looking fabulous with pink hair and indoor shades.
It was a photograph of Jordan, taken by scene photographer Sheila Rock, which seemed most perfectly to sum up a changing Britain. Jordan is posing on the King's Road, beneath the SEX sign in a black-belted leotard and asymmetric eye make-up, while in the right of the frame a bell-bottomed representative of the outgoing social order looks on, his stance blending disapproval and desire in equal measure. Jordan barely registers his presence.
Punk's insouciance, as well as her fishnet tights, have since been borrowed by pop artists with more blandly commercial agendas. "Can the female punk spirit still survive?" asked Sawyer at the outset while Miley Cyrus and Rihanna writhed in their respective videos. The promised take-down of the current crop never really came, however, and instead the film's conclusion went for the sisterly option: a plug for Albertine-approved London punk trio, Skinny Girl Diet.
BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital moveTV
Final Top Gear reviewTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
- 4 The Greece debt crisis explained in less than 100 words
- 5 Cristiano Ronaldo storms out of interview after being asked about possible sale of Manchester United target Sergio Ramos
Game of Thrones season 6: Daenerys actress Emilia Clarke says '50/50 chance' Jon Snow is alive
Chronixx interview: Reggae sensation on taking the opening spot at Glastonbury and calling Barack Obama a 'waste man'
Game of Thrones season 6: Director Jack Bender says showrunners 'communicate closely' with George RR Martin
Amy Winehouse film: Mark Ronson praises 'respectful' movie as it scores highest ever UK opening for British documentary
Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts