Punk rock becomes self-aware through “Sid and Nancy”

The movement’s destructive qualities become comedic in this 30-year-old biopic.

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Cassidy Campos, Writer

Punk rock has always been outrage music, as exemplified by the hardcore edge of Social Distortion, the playful chain pulling of Blink-182 and the notorious anarchists Sex Pistols. The famous leader of the Sex Pistols, John Simon Ritchie, is better known by his stage name Sid Vicious. Through all the sex, drugs and debauchery, Sid found the love of his life in a groupie named Nancy Spungen. After being charged with the murder of Spungen in 1978, Ritchie died the following year from a heroin overdose. Almost a decade after their deaths, they remain unforgotten. In 1986, the film “Sid and Nancy” hit theaters, providing satire on punk rock through the relationship of the late lovers.

the disenfranchised “Romeo and Juliet.”

Sid and Nancy essentially became the disenfranchised “Romeo and Juliet.” The film opens with Sid in jail and subsequently released while half drunk, wearing dark clothing and makeup. This film’s semi-biographical approach to romantic comedy brings out the destructive behavior of punk rock in a humorous way.

The rage in the music manifests in the fans with their misbehavior, drug use and short tempers that became normal. Though the film does not set out to become simply a romantic comedy, the humor becomes apparent when the audience views the outrageous extents to which Sid and Nancy will go for drugs. Sid and Nancy’s first “romantic” encounter occurred at a bar when Sid asked Nancy to buy him drugs. After days of Sid Ritchie waiting for Nancy to get him drugs his wait ends and they cross paths once again, sparking the romance. The film not only portrays the punk fanatics acting out, but children running around being mischievous as well. The preparatory school children break car windows as Sid passes and approves.

gritty humor

The gritty humor continues as scenes pass, with Sid performing on stage and another band member feeling ill as he screams out, “Why can’t he throw up on the side, I have a set.” As the scene cuts, Nancy runs down the street in a robe, intoxicated with drugs, as she yells, “I look like Santa Claus!” Scenes like these bring dark comedy back to the table. The destructive and ultimately fatal lifestyle of the pairing is lampooned, providing a solid cautionary foundation.

Sid and Nancy went as far as lying to their families about marriage in order to receive money to spend on drugs. Nancy’s family was torn apart because of the influence of punk, but this brought no remorse. Even though fame and music was the main goal for Sid and Nancy, it rapidly shifted to heroin. Girls become sex objects and cursing rose to common vocabulary. Comedy arose with horrendously ridiculous statements such as Nancy giving consent to Sid to have other relations with girls while on tour because he missed her.

While looking for an epic ‘80s film filled with music, comedy and self-awareness, “Sid and Nancy” has become an enduring classic for fans of punk rock and satire alike.

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