They fought against the establishment and mocked consumerism, and now the Sex Pistols have officially declared the end of Punk. With the launch of a new series of Sex Pistols credit cards in the U.K. in partnership with Virgin Money, it’s clear Punk is dead and so is its message.
“It’s time for consumers to put a little bit of rebellion in their pocket,” said a spokesperson for Richard Branson’s Virgin Money. Credit cards? Really?
Just as the Hippie movement’s leadership swapped sit-ins for Boardrooms, and Rap stars exchanged Compton for Beverly Hills, Punk has now replaced anarchy with conformism. In the end, the Sex Pistols have proven that rebellion is always a phase, a moment, temporary. Rebellion manifests itself when its leaders are running from something, looking for change. Perhaps the Sex Pistols have found solace in pimping credit.
Michele Greene, director of cards at Virgin Money said in the statement announcing the news, “For a long time now, UK banks have all been the same. They have the same products, the same services and the same attitude towards customers. At Virgin Money, we are aiming to change that.”
She continued: “In launching these cards, we wanted to celebrate Virgin’s heritage and difference. The Sex Pistols challenged convention and the established ways of thinking – just as we are doing today in our quest to shake up UK banking.”
The problem is, there is nothing particularly unconventional or rebellious about the Sex Pistols credit cards at all. You’re not allowed to rebel against the 18.9% interest charged by Virgin. While Punkers would party hard and sleep all day, show up late for a payment on this card and you’ll still have to pay a penalty. Credit cards are the anti-thesis to anarchy, they rely and depend on conformity to standards, conventions and rules – all valid, just not consistent with the message of the Sex Pistols.
But to have the same guys who announced critically, “Your future dream is a shopping scheme”, then pitch a credit card is somewhat ironic, no?
Perhaps a 0% card featuring the artwork for the Dire Straits and their song ‘money for nothing and chicks for free’ would be a better tie in. Or a cashback card featuring Abba’s ‘money, money, money’ or Madonna’s ‘Material Girl’ would have some sort of consistency between message, form and function.
Tying in the Sex Pistols monicker of ‘Anarchy in the U.K’. to a credit card, is like tying the Beattle’s ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ to a dollar bill, it’s just disjointed.
All that said, for those of us who have moved on from our moment of rebellion, the Sex Pistols credit card is a reminder not to forget our past, and to keep fighting to ensure that what we rebelled against does not reemerge, especially in ourselves. Maybe a Sex Pistols credit card is just that, a reminder of the dualilty of our need for independence and conformity, liberation and responsibility. Then again, maybe it highlights the hypocrisy of the sell-out.