Some people hold the opinion that you come from a privileged background. Their argument is that you don’t understand the struggle they are going through, so you shouldn’t comment on society’s problems.
Joe: Some people assume that because my parents achieved a certain notoriety on their own terms it follows that we were rich or made a fortune from their multiple endeavours. Clearly, people who hold this opinion are those that know the least and shout the most. My parents moved to the beat of a different drum and were both artists first and foremost, and artists are notoriously bad with money. We were always skint and struggling to make ends meet. Anyone who knows the truth will be able to confirm that my parents white knuckled it financially throughout the entire history of their collaboration on an artistic level. We were about as far away from living a life of luxury as the rest of the families living in the flats on the various South London Council estates I grew up in. Anyone who knows my history knows that I don’t come from a privileged background at all. Quite the reverse. I just find it to be an incredibly strange logic that, if you’ve got nothing, and you are completely poor, nobody cares or is willing to listen to your opinion. Then if you make a success out of your life against all odds, you are not entitled to an opinion because you are too rich. Only a simpleton would think that the opinions of poor people are the only ones that matter. I wonder what makes them think that only poor people have a voice. The fact is that they don’t.
Paleface: This line of criticism stems from ignorance and prejudice and I struggle to give it the dignity of a response. To follow that inane line of thought further illustrates how plainly ignorant and dim-witted it actually is. Take for example Che Guevara, the fact that he came from a wealthy and privileged background never altered his commitment and his values and he died for them. Hitler and Stalin grew up in circumstances of relative poverty. It is a very dictatorial and naïve line of thought, no?
Have you ever thought about writing a book? A retelling of your years growing up…?”
Sometimes we heard that “you Joe are part of the problem; the very demographic that you claim to rally against. Your parents commercialised punk, and packaged it for the mainstream…”
Joe: Again this is someone that jumps to conclusions based on prejudice. First, my parents made nothing from punk, he ended up skint, at the time of his death my father’s entire estate would have bought about a 1/3 share in a one bed London flat. My mother ended up skint, the shop closed down, if anyone looked at the history they would know that. Others made the money, not us, Richard Branson, for example. Vivienne worked very hard for years to be where she is now. Nothing was given, all earned. I can’t think of an example of how they packaged it, can you give me one? If it were, in fact, the case that they had sought to commercialise Punk, then why did they choose to move away from it into other directions when they could have milked the fat cow dry. It doesn’t make sense to say that they commercialised it when they didn’t.
Paleface: Malcolm and Vivienne were trying to make a living designing and selling clothes long before Punk Rock. Malcolm was trying to manage a successful group and ultimately moved into making music himself. Vivienne went on to make a success through her fashion genius. If anything they were subject to stigmatism from many sources due to their actions, that had offended or upset the establishment, they attained success in spite of this. There was never any attempt to commercialise and package punk for the mainstream, it was always subversive and counter culture. To describe it as a strategy or a deliberate calculated act is absolutely misleading. Hindsight tends to make things look rose tinted and simpler than reality and sheer chance can look calculated beyond the reality of events as they transpired. Their ‘success’, for want of a better word, was as a result of their attempts to create trouble which then became something that caught on. They were amongst the protagonists as much by accident as by design, they are no more guilty of commercialising punk than the Sex Pistols or the Clash. No one accuses them of commercialising punk, they were just doing what they did, so were Malcolm and Vivienne. I think that the difference is this, Vivienne and Malcolm [and others], acted with integrity, believing fully in what they were doing, they didn’t set out to commercialise and any commerciality that arose was by way of coincidence rather than as a result of an actual strategy, that is important to bear in mind. Ultimately and inevitably, it became a commercial entity as it gained momentum, but Malcolm and Vivienne had changed direction by that point anyway.