Thursday, June 26, 2008
Who's a Rebel Rebel?
On this date in 1974, the Universal Product Code is scanned for the first time to sell a package of Wrigley's chewing gum at the Marsh Supermarket in Troy, Ohio... that pretty much signaled the beginning of the end of individuality in some ways. While making supermarket check-outs faster for the customer, it increased worker productivity for the stores, and what it did for inventory control for the stores and the product distributors... well... it completely removed the human element and let the digits do the talking in terms of calculating what sold, etc. etc. Bar codes first actually existed as far back as 1966, but the supermarket scanning first happened in 1974.
I don't remember when UPCs started appearing on record albums, but I do remember that artists - both the recording artists and the artists who designed the covers were pretty concerned/upset about this. The record album seemed to be the last bastion of individuality and artistic expression and there was some Big Brother keeping track of stuff with bar codes! making ugly a piece of art. The UPC is a double edged sword. Its ugly but it does keep track of your sales.
Nevertheless... The Man was exerting control and that was but one of the things punk rock rebelled against - When the Sex Pistols sang "I wanna be... anarchy" they were singing about a panoply of complaints. Social criticism in pop culture has always existed and has exhibited itself in many forms... punk rock was among the most fun.
The Dils sang about hating the rich... about a Class War
The Avengers were not capitalist or fascist pigs! They were proudly American and exercised their right of free speech to spell out what was wrong with the country in song and in the fantastic political graphics they used.
As the 60s became the 70s, The Stooges, led by Iggy, "the world's forgotten boy" sought to destroy.
Stooges-inspired Dead Boys reflected a popular 70s punk rock kid notion that we didn't "need no mom and dad" in their anthemic Sonic Reducer.
The stylish Billy Idol and Generation X reminded everyone in a power pop punk way that 100 Punks Rule.