Cross-reading New Order

Essay by depeche_girl June 2006

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When writing slash fanfiction based on musicians, their lyrics often serve as an inspiration for creating the fandom itself. This piece's intention is not to insinuate that New Order lyricist, singer, (and in my case, slash fanfiction subject) Bernard Sumner is homosexual or bisexual. In this section, I shall examine certain lyrics by him that can be interpreted as exhibiting homosexuality; some more inclined in that direction than others.

One of the most well-known songs by New Order that can be interpreted from a homosexual standpoint is "1963".The lyrics tell of a male protagonist who has a relationship with a man named "Johnny". Johnny is clearly bisexual, or perhaps a closeted homosexual, as the lyrics "Johnny came home with another wife" indicate. In the song, Johnny attempts to kill the initial male protagonist. The protagonist pleads, "Johnny, don't point that gun at me." How did this romantic relationship become strained, then?

It is certain that both men love each other, however.

Bernard's character begins the song, with the lyrics, "It was January, 1963, when Johnny came home with a gift for me. He said 'I bought it for you because I love you, and I bought it for you cause it's your birthday, too."

In other words, Bernard's character's birthday is in January, and Johnny gave him a birthday present. According to the protagonist, Johnny did not intend to hurt (emotionally and/or physically) him. Then why did Johnny intend to kill him?

"There are too many ways that you could kill someone, like in a love affair," reminds Bernard. Perhaps Johnny, frustrated with his feelings, and with what his wife demands, attempted to kill the protagonist out of desperation.

Bernard's character, on the other hand, is not as tormented as Johnny. Despite Johnny and his desire to kill, (not just...