Keith Flint RIP: “We were dangerous…”
We were dangerous and exciting! But now no one’s there who wants to be dangerous.
Prodigy singer Keith Flint is dead from suicide at age 49.
I can’t begin to properly eulogize Flint, but reflecting on his work this morning I find myself thinking a thought: it isn’t art if it isn’t subversive.
Flint understood this at the DNA level, I think.
Speaking to the Guardian in 2015, Flint lamented the state of modern pop music. “We were dangerous and exciting! But now no one’s there who wants to be dangerous. And that’s why people are getting force-fed commercial, generic records that are just safe, safe, safe.”
I remember seeing The Prodigy’s video for “Firestarter” on MTV. It was my first encounter with the group, and Flint instantly struck me as the Johnny Rotten of electronic music. He was dangerous. He wasn’t edgy, he was all edge. This was music to scare your parents with. And children.
I wish more artists in our “safe safe safe” age got this. But that’s the point, init? The very existence of “Firestarter,” “Breathe” and “Smack My Bitch Up” was a repudiation of the commercial, corporatist musical establishment. Co-opt this, motherfucker.
This is the natural function of capitalism vis a vis art: capture the wildness of the revolt, tame it, then sell it back as prefabricated revolt-like product. Punk Whiz®.
Or maybe I’m deluding myself. The Prodigy sold a lot of records and won a lot of mainstream awards, so maybe you’d argue the system won like it always does. I don’t know. But I’m doing some relistening this morning and watching the videos again.
Keith Flint, on the day he died, was still more dangerous, more subversive than anything on the radio in my town.