Thoughts Re: Avril Lavigne, Having Only Heard Her Joan Jett Cover, And Having Once Been One Of Her Trolls

(For the sake of punk rock.)

Since I’m a Gen X’er, I was never around people listening to the music of the 00’s. (I know so many 80’s pop songs because of having been in that milieu.) My Gen Y / Xennial friend Zak used to tell me back around 2000 about this pop singer entirely manufactured by her record company, who happened to be playing pop punk. I eventually saw bits of her on YouTube. I saw her being interviewed, and acting as if she were a spoiled child. For a while she wore ties as her signature fashion statement, and asked an interviewer, in response to the question did she listen to the Sex Pistols, “Does the singer for the Sex Pistols wear ties?” She may have been in a music industry bubble and more a depressing celebrity than anything else, but there is something almost militantly important about retaining the spirit of punk rock, if you are in fact going to represent it.

I once sent her a YouTube video via Twitter. It was the Dead Kennedys playing “Pull My Strings” live at the Bay Area Music Awards, March 1980. (Audio only.) (Known to us 80’s kids through a compilation they’d released that we’d all had.) The band had been booked for the awards show because they were the biggest punk band in San Francisco. They all came on wearing ties (!), which were flipped over their shoulders. They were all dressed the same, in black slacks and white shirts with big S’s written on the front. They were supposed to play one of their singles, but they stopped right at the beginning, flipped their ties down to turn the S’s into dollar signs, and then did their only performance (or recording) of one of the greatest attacks on the music industry ever recorded. Its chorus: “Is my cock big enough / Is my brain small enough / For you to make me a star / Give me a toot / I’ll sell you my soul / Pull my strings and I’ll go far”. I have no idea if she paid any attention to that or saw it. But it was a shitty thing that I did to a human being, to my mind as a defense of the “purity” of punk, or what have you, but really to be a bully to someone anonymous, though actually famous. So that happened. I did it to her two more times, I think. Along the same lines. Something undoubtedly clever and biting about her posing and fronting and being a false punk idol. I know. Making fun of the fact that she married the singer of Nickelback. Which she did. She can only blame herself for that.

I guess the third time was when she tried re-inventing herself in the guise of a J-Pop star — including a video done religiously in the style of Japanese television and to the taste of Japanese audiences, forgetting how jarring and ridiculous she was being — stealing the famous Skrillex hairstyle in the process. Akin to the time Madonna announced her big re-invention, appeared on a European hotel balcony dressed as a Hindu goddess, was ridiculed instantly, and then chucked the idea.

Having Avril Lavigne do a cover of Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation” is, to me, a fantastic record company idea. Both as safe and dangerous as exactly necessary. And it’s a great cover. But it’s just not right. It just cannot be accepted. Is my Gen X opinion.

In the end — possibly having seen the documentary The Punk Singer, about Kathleen Hanna, the lead singer of Bikini Kill and catalyst for the riot grrrl movement — she announced that she too was battling Lyme Disease, asked for prayers on social media, and disappeared.

I think.

She may actually be recording music and releasing it, and I just haven’t noticed. Because, as I said, I’ve never actually listened to anything she’s ever done other than that one cover. My buddy Zak and I just used to talk about her when we were sitting in restaurants about twenty years ago.

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