Head banged against a Wonderwall

August 30, 1996

How I delighted in Angela McRobbie's justification of (apology for?) Oasis. Last May, six thugs smashed my car window as they chanted the chorus of "Wonderwall". When I complained, they sang "Don't look back in anger" as they kicked me senseless. (I had swirling images of A Clockwork Orange and "Singing in the Rain".) As a veteran of punk rock (Class of '76), I am intensely cynical about anything prelapsarian. If it looks like the Beatles, and sounds like the Beatles, it is the Beatles. This, however, is not 1967.

Punk rock encouraged individuality, flair, the do-it-yourself ethic and radical thought. It was a watershed in popular culture. Oasis encourage reactionary posturing, tribal anonymity and marketable "rockstar" arrogance. Laddishness, the reaction to punk rock's grandson PC (so funny, so old fashioned) is the easy option. Petty crime, substance abuse and hopelessly surrogate drooling are aliases for the disempowerment of the nation's youth. (Boys and girls, where I come from.) My attackers, drunk and stoned, returned to the scene, feeling sure that they were important, valuable people. The only thing of lasting value will be the billions going into the coffers of Gallagher Inc. Oh, and the pretty tunes.

GORDON URQUHART PhD student in cultural history Aberdeen University

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