Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Dame Vivienne Westwood: now she's 73, this old punk thinks youngsters should respect their elders!

I’ve reached that age when very few things I read in the paper make my jaw drop, but an item yesterday about the Godmother of Punk, dress designer Vivienne Westwood did the trick. Seems her 17-year old model granddaughter, Cora Corre, isn’t spending enough time with her. Worse, Cora hasn’t even asked to read the old bat’s diary, which, you know, she really should: “because I think my diary is a point of view you wouldn’t get anywhere else. I am trying to understand the world we live in. I think she could get a lot from it.”

I doubt that. I really do. After all, quite a few of us are trying to "understand the world we live in" and I suspect that Dame Vivienne's "point of view" is shared by any number of silly people.

It seems odd to whine about the time priorities of a 17-year old who, in addition to being a working model, is studying for her A-levels – and even odder to embarrass the poor girl by choosing to do so in public. But no doubt we’ve all observed the tendency of old people to become querulous when they feel they’re being ignored, so one would be inclined to cut Dame Vivienne some slack. However, when we learn that the girl’s real “crime” was to prefer to spend a week skiing with her own mother rather than attend Nan’s fashion show at the Science Museum last Sunday, we might be tempted to conclude that Nan is a spectacularly selfish old bat.

What’s really, really annoying about this spatette is that we’re talking about the woman who, along with her lover Malcolm McLaren, practically invented Punk: "I was messianic about punk, seeing if one could put a spoke in the system in some way." From what I can recall, the central message of Punk was that old people were all mean, brain-dead fascists – they were the enemy who deserved to be insulted or ignored: they represented authority, and the role of punks was to outrage their sensibilities by swearing a lot, mocking their fuddy-duddy opinions, wearing ridiculous sadomasochistic clothes, disfiguring their faces with safety pins, and creating the sort of raucous, ineptly-played music designed to appal anyone over 30.

Having created a business empire by teaching children to disrespect their elders, Dame Vivienne – now that she’s a rich, gong-laden elder herself – thinks the problem with today's young whippersnappers is that they’re unwilling to hang on her every word and absorb her hard-won wisdom.

It’s not the first time Dame Vivienne has chosen to upbraid her schoolgirl granddaughter in public. In a recent Telegraph interview, she had this to say: “She’s a beautiful girl, but I wish she would use it to stand for something, although it’s terrible for me to impose that on anybody.”

Cora’s seventeen, for goodness sake. Why the hell should she stand for anything? What you mean is that you want her to be enthusiastic about all the tedious causes you believe in – you’re a member of the Green Party (sigh) and you’re all for nuclear disarmament and against global warming, yada yada yada, zzzzzzzzzzz... As an ageing revolutionary, surely you want your granddaughter to reject everything you stand for? That was the message you foisted on young people 40 years' ago – why isn’t that the right message now? Wouldn’t it warm the cockles of an old anti-authority cultural Marxist like you if Cora were to wave two fingers at you by joining UKIP and supporting fracking and calling for increased defence spending?

Of course I’m not suggesting for an instant that Dame Vivienne is a hypocrite. Heaven forfend! Although, come to think of it, in 2007 she spoke out against the “drug of consumerism”, and in 2014 her company, which has twelve retail outlets in the UK and two in the US, made a pre-tax profit of £3.2m on sales of £29.5m.

Yeah, that consumerism drug really sucks.

The full Telegraph story can be found here.

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