Never-mind the Bollocks

When we think about censorship in the music industry, we think of bands such as The Rolling Stones or The Beatles, who’ve upset a few. From angry parents, to annoyed interviewers, they weren’t all loved. But there’s one punk rock act that takes the first-place prize in censorship. They were the most banned, most hated, most despised, and somewhat most loved all at the same time. Who I could be talking about? The Sex Pistols of course. Their music has been called degrading, disgusting, and an embarrassment. They were the ultimate censored music act. They were kicked off the television and radio and were even forced to play under an alias at some of their gigs.( Rhino Entertainment 2017). They even went to court to get their controversial album, Never-mind the Bollocks, into the stores.

The Sex Pistols were the all-time anti- establishment rock band and, the legendary punk rockers offended a lot of people. Particularly their song God Save the Queen was the nastiest. It was a blasphemous and offensive song though it had a much deeper meaning. They rocked the world with themes of anti-establishment, freedom, and equality. They used catchy guitar riffs, bouncy drum beats, and catchy song lyrics to get across their message. They wanted to show the world who the Queen really was. The Sex Pistols influenced the teens of the 70s and told them to question who they were, everything they are told to believe, and not to go along with everyone else. The Sex Pistols taught the youth of England to be unique and different. To be yourself

In the year 1977, it was the year of the queens Silver Jubilee. There was partying in the streets, and most people had the day off for the event. The country of England was relatively happy with what the royal family was doing and no one really thought much of it or questioned it. During this time, John Lydon, also known as Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious, Steve Jones, Glen Matlock, and Paul Cook were all working and writing their own song to “honor” the Queen of England. After a week of it being released, the song went straight into the top twenty. There was public outrage all throughout England and strikes at record stores. As the record came out, it completely rocked the establishment and took everyone by surprise. No one would ever consider publicly exploiting the Queen, let alone write a song demeaning her and who she is. Some would even consider the act a form of treason. The Sex Pistols aimed to exploit The Queen and show the public who she really was. Around this time, everyone went along with what Queen said and how she chose to govern England. She was praised and loved. The Sex Pistols were one of the first to disagree. Their message was to tell everyone not to be a follower, but rather question their authority and their leaders. This message is still very relevant today.

“God Save the Queen” they yelled. Of course, this is the name of the song and the opening lines to it. But why does the queen need to be saved? She needs saving from her sins, the sins of the murder and exploit in the name of her country. The Pistols are throwing this opening line at us to show us that there’s something wrong with the queen, and we shouldn’t be blind to it. Johnny Rotten then threw “The Facist Regime” right at the beginning of the song. If you go through the royal family’s history, the Queen’s uncle and many other members of the royal family were known Nazi sympathizers and anti-Semites. It is believed that the real reason the second world war was fought was to protect to economic interests of the rich. Not to protect the Jews and the people of England.

Johnny Rotten then tells us that “They made you moron”. The “they” that the Pistols are referring to are the people who sustain the monarchy, the armed forces, the police, and or the bureaucrats. They made the morons of the working-class people limiting them to a hard life and taking away things like educational advantages that are provided to the rich. You have to be rich to go to a University and only those who go there are able to afford it, which isn’t the working class. Johnny Rotten then uses the metaphor “Potential H Bomb” to underline the frustration, rage, and sense of isolation many felt during the era of nuclear war. “She ain’t no human being” says Rotten. Would a human being really do this? The system of monarchism dehumanized the queen and turned her into someone who doesn’t have human traits. All of her individuality traits have been removed and she has taken the form of a mindless zombie.

“There is no future in England’s dreaming” tells us that if England continues to be the way it is, there is no hope for England. Any hope that people have for England is simply a dream, not reality. “don’t be told what you want, don’t be told what you need” is one of the first chorus and focuses on the power of advertising and the media saturation of television. This all became very prevalent in the 70s. All sorts of advertising told the public what they needed and what they wanted. Johnny Rotten then says, “There’s no future, no future, no future for you”. He is saying that there is no future for us and England, and if you believed that there is one, your believing a lie.

John Lydon yells the iconic lyric “We mean it man, we love our queen, god saves”. He’s showing how ironically, he does not love the Queen at all. The next line is “Cause tourists are money”. This line shows how the royal family is very crucial to the reason why there are millions of tourists who come to visit England. One of the biggest ways a country can grow economically is tourism.

“And our figure head, is not what she seems” is another attempt by Johnny Rotten to show how the queen isn’t a human being. She has become a zombie with no personality of her own. She’s merely what people want her to be. “Oh God save history, God save your mad parade, Oh lord god have mercy, All crimes are paid” asks why the people of England even celebrating the jubilee? What’s the point? Its original meaning was to show that every 50 years, all sins are forgiven, debts are omitted, lands are returned to their rightful owners, and crimes are pardoned. This is very obviously something that the British monarch would not agree with. Why are they having a parade in the queen’s honor, it’s hypocritical. Finally, the repetitive closing lines “No future, No future, No future for you, No future, no future, No future for me” tell us that all societies and forms of government are doomed to fail.

The Sex Pistols influenced a wave of young rebellious teens. In less than three years they kick started the punk rock movement of their homeland. Their violent and confrontational behavior made the punk attitude mainstream. They wanted to show the public what really happened behind the scenes. They targeted the Queen and told us that we should really be asking more questions about her true intentions. The Sex Pistols used ethos by them being ordinary citizens in England just like everyone else. They’re just ordinary people who can see that there’s something wrong with the monarchy and the Queen. Why can’t anyone else see what’s wrong with it? They used pathos by telling us that there is something wrong with the Queen. If we don’t fix it anytime soon, we all may be doomed. “No future, No future No future for you No future, no future No future for me”. We all will be zombies controlled by the government with no mind of our own. Everyone wants a future, and the pistols are telling us that we need to do something about it soon or else we’re all screwed. Logically, this all makes sense. The Sex Pistols are throwing all this information in our face. They’re using all this evidence to sway our opinion of the Queen and are telling us that we need to do something. After listening to the song, it should have raised a few eyebrows and caused people to scratch their heads. This is how the Sex Pistols used logos.

The Pistols showed us how to speak up, and really take charge of who we really are and what we do in life. They showed us to question what were being told and to be a leader, not a follower. The Sex Pistols are the godfathers of punk rock and anti-establishment and got across their point very well and after all these year their song still holds lots of power and is still somewhat relevant today