New video

OK here’s Malcolm McLaren talking about his art school education and the idea of flamboyant failure on the way to creative success and about the idea of being an amateur. It is long and rambling but I think there’s something of value in it for each of us.


About dryadart

An artist struggling to balance art, teaching and family in suburban America. View all posts by dryadart

One response to “New video

  • Tony G


    I enjoyed the video immensely, perhaps because of McLaren’s irreverent persona more than anything else. There’s nothing more horrifying than standing in the middle of a thousand sun-choked acres of forest with a busted compass. I think that just about sums up life for “any” kid in London right after the war, and I can’t help believe that McLaren’s inquisitive, self-directed, and iconoclastic nature was born from that post war “directionless/parentless” state of confusion. Grownups were too busy counting their fingers and toes to deal with us kids… a dreadful but wonderful world for a five year old. Odd, he should talk about fearing the cops. I can only remember seeing “one”, sitting on the handlebars and peddling a bicycle “backwards” in front of the BBC… strange, but impressive.

    I’m a bit confused by his analysis of the educational system. On the one hand he decries the deceit propagated by his early teachers… “the liars” he calls them, but applauds and holds firm to the principles set forth by the “romantic” old-guard profs that put forth the notion that “struggle and experience” must accompany/embody “authentic” learning… duh. I think he simply “grew up” and finally opened up to a world of artistic self-expression (albeit kicking, screaming, and literally making lots of noise along the way).

    I’m also perplexed about remarks contrasting his perceived “two worlds”… authentic vs karaoke. It would seem that one who has made a good buck “from” the karaoke world (ie. “Sex Pistols” albums and punk rock trouser sales) shouldn’t be damning the very culture that lined his pockets and stretched out his fifteen minutes of fame… a tad bit of hypocrisy?

    One thing I “have” learned after teaching for approx. 30 years is that “stupid” has seldom been cool… I don’t know how he came to postulate that. I didn’t have “Spongebob”, but I confess I faithfully watched the “Three Stooges” and ate paint chips on the sly when the old man was out of work.

    I think the one thing in his message that was most meaningful to me (and perhaps all of us) is that one need not be fearful of failure. McLaren was a master at adaptation, anticipating/overcoming failure and making the best of what came at him in the course of his life. I admire him for that. I think (in terms of art) he’s trying to encourage all of us to become “risk-takers” NOT “flamboyant failures”. Unfortunately for many, his “implied/unspoken” message coming across may be “to be a good artist, one must step way out of the box”. While that may be true in terms of dollars and cents (offered up by the karaoke generation), it doesn’t quite seem “authentic”… yeah I had to use that word. The caveat to budding artists should be that “one doesn’t have to be defiant, irreverent, or rebellious to produce fine art”. As warped as I am in my thinking, I don’t think great art “has” to make a social statement or throw the rulebook out the window… McLaren just got lucky… right place… right time.

    Great video… back to homework.

    Tony G.

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