The thing about our time is that we just might value individuality more than at any other point in the history of human life and, yet, at the same time, we have more capacity to mass produce goods and ideas than ever.
Enter: the marketing of mass-produced individuality. That is, the new Sex Pistols-themed Mastercard. Now available at virginmoney.com/virgin/credit-cards/rebellion.
Now that is a URL of the times.
Their slogan? “Bring a bit of rebellion to your wallet.”
I know almost nothing about punk music but I know that the Sex Pistols were foundational and that the message of the music was anti-establishment. So, the appearance of the band on credit cards with an APR of 18.9% is, sociologically speaking, hilarious.
Hey, maybe you can buy a replica of a famous punk musician’s guitar with it! It comes pre-stressed, so it totally looks like you play it a lot and probably treat it like shit because who the fuck cares. And it also comes with some stickers that look vaguely anarchical and you can make it your own depending on which stickers you choose and where you put them!
Sociologist Brady Potts wrote a post about this guitar a few years ago. He asked: “What can we unpack from this guitar?” And wrote:
Pretty much the history of modernity. You start with “the guitar” – an instrument traditionally produced by artisans called luthiers. But this particular style of guitar – the Fender Telecaster – is the first commercially successful mass-produced solidbody electric guitar. (Henry Ford:Driving::Leo Fender:Rocking.) Introduced in 1950 as the Esquire… assembled on a factory line from mass-produced interchangeable parts, sold in stores and catalogs, heard most often via media and broadcast for most music consumers, the 1966 Fender Telecaster is truly a Modern guitar.
And now you can buy it with a Sex Pistols credit card. Nope, looks like they’re sold out. Sorry, you’ll just have to buy your identity somewhere else.
Thanks to @NotDrSnit for the tip!Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
Bill R — June 15, 2015
The Telecaster is perhaps THE most universal guitar of all time. It is revered by artists in country, jazz and rock alike. A truly wide array of sounds can be coaxed from it, allowing people to express their INDIVIDUALITY!
Gotta love it. And BTW, most successful "anti-establishment" teen bands turn mainstream eventually. The flip us the bird to gain a fanbase and follow those fans as they grow up. This is the entertainment business after all...
Biggus Disqus — June 17, 2015
It wouldn't be quite so ironic to have a "rebellious" Sex Pistols credit card if one simply maxed it out and then didn't pay the bill.
Kay — June 18, 2015
Well, the Sex Pistols brand being used as consumable insignia for rebellion is actually not as off message as it seems. The band was created/constructed in the 70's by Malcolm McLaren to promote the lifestyle and 'model' the cloths he was selling at his Chelsea boutique that were designed by Vivienne Westwood. Together McLaren and Westwood helped to initiated the aesthetic of a counterculture - hoped up on rebellion, individuality - and sold them consumer products to validate their new brand identity. Now, that said, I love punk and was never part of the British punk scene of the 70's. I also know there is a reason why there was a eager youth culture hungry for an alternative way of being. Partially in the UK it was a rally call against Thatcherism. But, the history British Punk is fascinating - particularly because at it's inception it was a brand first and life style second. The legacy of this is something to wounder about.
kafkette — June 30, 2015
i know everything about punk music, & all of our brave & honored dead punk people, so i can tell you quite simply, easily, & directly, that this idiotic site's self-reverential critique of this stuff adds a rather heavy layer of poisoned frosting atop the poison cake. we dont have much of anything left these days, now do we.
Commercial Activism | Cultural Sociology — September 7, 2017
[…] and ideas of rebellion have been used to sell products for decades. Sites such as Jezebel, Sociological Images, and this blog have previously looked at this issue. Following are some additional […]
Ronaldo — December 14, 2022
I enjoy playing guitar the most. This is an easy-to-use instrument. Also I can create recordings to be used as ringtones Sonidos mp3 llamada. Lots of famous nokia ringtones created by guitar.