Given that there was an element of chance in the Sex Pistols' becoming famous,* is there a way to quantify that element?
I assume that the answer is no, since I've no idea how to try; though maybe social psychologists with a strong grasp of statistics have been working on such questions.
This question was inspired by Mark's starting his Adam And The Ants stint at One Week, One Band with the question, "Do people talk about Jordan much these days? Once — for a year or three — she mattered quite a lot." And a couple of posts on, he asks, "So what exactly was I suggesting earlier today: no Jordan (—> no SEX —> no Pistols —> no Jubilee —> no Ants) —> no (UK) punk? Or else maybe, less aggressively counterfactually, I'm dubbing her the Bez of punk, maybe?"
Mark's point isn't about probability but that the story of a band is way more populated than most people realize. But to underline both my question and Mark's point, I'd never heard of Jordan or Bez until reading those names in Mark's piece yesterday.** And I'm not as sure as he is that his contention ("no (UK) punk?") is counterfactual.
I assume that if we start from 50 years ago and ask ourselves, "How likely then was it that the world has this particular configuration now?," the answer would be vanishingly small no matter what configuration we end up with (though of course some overall features of the configuration, e.g., "the world would still have an atmosphere, even after a life-ending nuclear war," are quite predictable). So to make my question comprehensible, you could say, "Given Britain the way it was in 1975, and glam and glitter and pub rock and punk rock as they already existed in scenes and subcultures in New York, London, Cleveland, L.A., Ann Arbor, etc., not to mention the pages of Creem and ______ (some British counterpart?),*** there's nonetheless huge unpredictability as to whether the Sex Pistols are going to become famous, or how famous, not to mention, once they are famous, what gets made of what they're doing, and so forth."
Remember, even here, the chance of any particular outcome, including the one we got, is vanishingly small. And my concern isn't to come up with a number, anyway. What I'm really pondering is this: back in the late '80s in my fanzine I asked and gave what I consider a good answer to the question, "Why was there a punk rock explosion in Britain in '76 but not a glitter explosion in the United States in 1973?" But my answer was entirely causal. The Dolls had these attributes and this potential audience; the Sex Pistols had those attributes and that potential audience. I wouldn't fundamentally change that answer now, even though I know that there is an element of unpredictability in what happened with the Dolls and Pistols. What I don't know is whether or how much I should mention the unpredictability, or how to work it into the story. What is there to say about unpredictability, beyond that it exists? I think that, even if the Dolls had become famous, they wouldn't have produced the explosion the Sex Pistols did. And I don't think the Sex Pistols would have become a sudden big deal**** in the U.S., even if they'd been as big here as KISS or Aerosmith. But even if I'm right about that (it's not as if I could run an experiment), I don't think even in retrospect that it was inevitable or obvious that they or anyone like them would have sparked the fire in Britain that they actually did spark.
( 티아라 파이팅!!!Collapse )
( The butterfly effectCollapse )
( A Tale Of Two PatsiesCollapse )
( footnotesCollapse )