Wake Up Punk
Wake Up Punk is the first film produced and directed by Nigel Askew, made about his long time creative collaborator, Joe Corré. The dapper, no-nonsense Londoner is the son of punks Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McClaren. The film follows the lead up to the 2016 act of Corré burning around £5 million worth of punk memorabilia as a protest against the commodification of punk and to raise awareness of climate change. His reasons are explored more fully than the media surrounding the event at the time allowed.
Many scenes show Westwood, the grande dame provocatrix, sitting resplendent in tartan and sequins discussing the incendiary origins of punk to where it is now with her sons, scoffing incredulously at a Virgin credit card offering a punk slogan design. McClaren hated hippies and he hated Richard Branson especially, we are told. Punk musician Eddy Pole-Tudor describes how punk attracted disturbed adolescents – himself very much included – and that he would certainly have killed someone if he had not been able to take his aggression out on stage in a non-violent way. There is then a scene where he sits baffled in an upmarket hotel being served “Anarch-tea” to celebrate punk’s 40th anniversary, replete with punk-themed Battenburg. There are moments of irreverent natural comedy like this throughout the film. A forum including a punk professor swiftly descends into chaos: a bejewelled audience member stands up declaring: “there are no real punks in this room, the only punk thing left in London is Wikileaks.”
Young punks outside an establishment exhibition of punk hold up a banner emblazoned with “bollocks”. Dorothy Max Prior (Writer/Artist/Dancer and Dilettante) describes how the establishment at first did not know what to call punk other than, “Boys in nail varnish, girls dressed as whores“ and makes an interesting point that as soon as the movement had a name it was over as it had lost its potency.
Corré himself is articulate and impassioned. Asked why he does not sell the collection and donate the money to charity instead of burning it he replies, “I’ve witnessed this country sell off every asset it ever had. The job of the state is now done by charities, where people earn £250,000 a year for sitting on the board”. He talks of knowing the difference between the price of a house and the value of a home and how that can be a metaphor for Earth and capitalist destruction of it. The film has surprisingly touching moments and a fascinating insight into an outré family: while discussing her designs, Westwood sighs wistfully over a Hell’s Angel named Red Baron who she was in love but had to leave as her loyalty always lay with McClaren.
The structure of the film could be snappier. There are mystifying interspersions of a Dickensian bunch of waifs played by stage school kids that help no one. However, it is chaotically memorable, with its pyromaniac heart and provocative climax.
Wake Up Punk is released in select cinemas on 5th May and will be available on digital platforms from 9th May 2022.
Watch the trailer for Wake Up Punk here: