NME at its most pretentious – 1981
We’d all taken to the streets and rioted in 1981 – or so you might have believed reading the NME. In fact most of us were in the boozer saying ‘you heard where there’s a riot this weekend then?’ with no intention of actually going and observing.
Truth is, we’d all gone a bit narcissistic and poncy by the end of 1981 – eye liner, big fringes (Human League or Spandau) and even though the economy was shot to pieces, people pretended to be decadently rich….on the cheap. Or as Ian Penman of the NME put it…
“This was a year when our narcissism was indiscreet; it moved out from beyond our keyholes and openly solicited us with its gaze.”
Yeah, just like I was saying. Ah, the NME was going through a bit of a wordy, pseudo-philosophical, deliberate purple prose phase. And none of us could be spared the ramblings of their scribblers. In the normal three page article on some cultural aspect, it would take at least five or six paragraphs before you had the faintest clue what was being written about. Almost as if the subject of the article was a total drag.
So Penman continues with this…writing at the end of 1981 in his wrap of the year:
“Nineteen hundred and eighty one divided into two clearly separated but separately ill-defined worlds, both lost in narcissism. The only dangerous intimacies took place in the scenery between these two worlds – but we shall take stock of these later. For the time being – two views. Or, if they are indeed narcissistic in nature – two sets of views.”
OK – anybody understand what that actually means!!! And he then went on to analyse the Adam Ant video of Stand and Deliver.
“Adam stops brandishing his highwayman’s pistol in favour of a hand mirror; this is the point at which we cease to be unmentionable scared. From anyone else it would be sexually hilarious, this switch from gun to gaze, but with Adam the threat is nothing more than a double entendre with no real punchline.”