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.
Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Boston Marathon runner's search for mystery man she kissed ends with letter from his wife
- 3 Frankie Boyle on Scottish independence: 'In the Interests of Unity, F**k Off'
- 4 How to gain confidence and maximise your sexual potential
- 5 Chinese theme park sets up 'death simulator' where volunteers can experience being cremated
Penny Dreadful, series 2 episode 1, review: It is still gloriously silly
Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to replace Jeremy Clarkson and co
Eurovision 2015: What date and time is the song contest and who are the favourites to win?
How the Other Half Eat, Channel 4 - TV review: Swapping food trolleys shows how food and class are closely connected
Noel Gallagher 'cannot wait' to hear Oasis-inspired One Direction album but rants about 'pointless' Tidal and Spotify
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils