WHEN JUNKIES LEGALIZE MURDER: The Body Image of GG Allin As a Non-Discoursive Object of The Eye

GG Allin in one of his controversial performances.

“I hate you motherfuckers”


This essay will focus on an American Punk that both enlighted the spirit of rebellion which anarchy would take place in but also brought up a huge cinism: GG Allin who manifested himself as a part of an “image” throughout his body and the “hate” he possessed. GG Allin in The USA was a popular phenomenon with a non-discoursive punk attitute which included speeches of both self-awareness that turned into a cinism and self-reputation by using his own bodily rejections such as urine and feces. “I hate you motherfuckers” began to officialize his state of self-manipulation and he became one -or maybe the first- of the most hated artists of all time. It’s been officially heard from his own speech that the day he met rock’n’roll was a salvation which prevented him from becoming a serial killer. It is no coincidence that he received fan letters from the infamous serial killers whose positions within societies were highly related to the industrialization and idolization of the “other” as the modern day anti-heroes. GG Allin borrowed the same cultural influence by sloganising “legalize murder”. Still a hate against the members of a society would never prepare an enough space for a legitimate homicide in any sense GG Allin believed in. Was it a flashpoint when he started to reflect the anger to himself and the hate to his body?

GG Allin concerts were full of “artistically” self-mutilation that both affected himself and the audience. The throwing of his own feces to the face of an audience simply resulted with a lawsuit which has been lowered as killing rock’n’roll if he ever was sentenced. He simply declared that all his actions were licit as long as he really believed in that. Thus, his lowering continued as avoiding an artist to be put in a political context since “socio” was eliminated by self-oriented, lucid behaviours. That’s why GG Allin should be evaluated as a “body image” through the visual methodology of Panofsky which consists of pre-iconography, iconography and iconology. This method will contextualise the Punk attitutes which turned into a body image rather than a political discoursive commune.

Dr. Burak Bayülgen

GG Allin & the Holy Men ‘You Give Love A Bad Name’ LP cover


Hated: GG Allin and The Murder Junkies (Todd Phillips, 1993) presented GG Allin from the public eye rather than judging his actions. The film stripped GG Allin from the comments which metaphorically covered up his body. Almost the whole film presents GG Allin in performance, naked and uncovered from the accusers. Phillips depanded on fans, long time drinking buddies and audience. The film saved GG Allin’s phenomena for the pre-iconography as if no over-voice has been dubbed onto his career. This leads the way from an undubbed representment to a critically approached “body image” in which GG Allin shall be deduced. This is an approach to see GG Allin through a reasonable eye, yet this structure makes his actions apparent to lead the way to iconology. Phillips’ film focused on representations of his artistic reality while avoiding the apprehensions of his hate against everything that were reflected and cinically submerged. The reflection of GG Allin as a non-discoursive artist will stick to Phillips’ film but the first part of this reading necessitates avoiding an over-voice.

Phillips structured his film from “what he did in front of people” rather than “how he is accepted”. As pre-iconography, GG Allin was nothing more than he artistically thought. Since GG Allin behaved in the name of rock’n’roll, he became a cornerstone that rather changed himself instead of his time and space. He did not offer a salvation but his short life submitted a kind-of-joy for the eyes of his fans, apoliticized from all the rules and regulations.

The Final Years Of GG Allin

“hate”, “fuck”, “scum”, “die”, “myself”, “ass”, “cock”, “suck”, “shit”


“He kept threatening to kill himself, yet he poured every ounce of himself into living his life to the fullest and doing it his way. He was committed to his art. Over the course of his life, he made numerous recordings, overcoming lack of money, lack of consistent collaborators, lack of anything even close to record label support. He recorded output ranges from catchy as hell songs like “I Wanna Fuck Myself” to sinister dirges like “Snakeman’s Dance.” He was unrepentant about everything he did. He was on a mission. And it ended too soon”. (Johnson, Richard, 2015: 5)

According to some of his fans, GG Allin was totally an idol that was on a mission. Nevertheless, even Phillips’ film does not determine the motivation of a fanhood and agglomerate a GG Allin fan with a punk music fan. That’s why the iconography should focus on how GG Allin treated himself and his body in terms of “hate”, “rock’n’roll” and “mission”.

The most significant part of iconography is the assumption of a discourse as an out-of-discourse. In other words, how did GG Allin extinguish the signs of a discourse into none? It requires 2 steps in which his lyrical themes are included.

The first step is to look at his body as an “image” which has been seen through the eyes of fans. He’s been treated as a fictious character who could be adapted into anything that is “other” than a leading artist. The anthology called Blood For You managed to do that:

“It’s not meant to aggrandize the man of apologize for the shit he did in his life. It’s designed to put this character that had no place in the real world into worlds where he makes sense, and maybe to make sence out of who he was”. (2015: 5)

The Second Step is to attribute a fantasy that refers to any other arts. The image is so loaded with fantasy that his licit attitutes make sense as if they were fictious. GG Allin’s image is not only the rejection of urine and feces but a rejection and apoliticization of real-time/space. GG Allin’s image becomes fictious if the punk attitute has been drawn out of a political context which brings out toleration and endurance of his stage acts.

Iconography’s schematics lead their ways to look at GG Allin in terms of visual methodologies such as artist-artwork-audience relationship in which the audience take part in both iconography and iconology. As Greenberg stated for Pollock paintings, the kitsch was where there was no other explanation beyond the viewing or every viewers would feel the same. Out of his performative characteristics, GG Allin’s visual body was kitsch that could not complete itself to a camp behaviour. He broke his teeth with the microphone, hurt and cut himself with razors, injected microphones and bananas to his anus. He intended to rape his female audiences. He shit and smeared. All these actions were beyond an explanation and were self-mutilations of a body image that was viewed but not interpreted as if reading a newspaper by hearingly repeating the slangs “who cares?” or “suck it then”.

Iconography is also related with the context of his music. Since most of his recordings were poorly produced in audio quality, he performed music from punk to spoken word, from rock’n’roll to country. He gave stand-up shows and most of them resulted with brutality. He stood as if he convinced to say something to his audience, but he only burned newspapers which he read and attacked his female audience which resulted with being attacked by her boyfriend. The repetition of words “hate”, “fuck”, “scum”, “die”, “myself”, “ass”, “cock”, “suck”, “shit” in almost all of his songs still make no sense out of slang, self-mutilation and cinism. These songs refer to end his own self rather than ending a society or a commune. Whenever he had a message to convey, it consisted the words “fuck it, suck my cock, die” as a formulation. His disbelief in any authorities applied every outlaw casts to himself and only left a few of them to the audience. His defense against “killing rock’n’roll” prevented him from flapping and as much as he flapped, rock’n’roll survived beyond authorities.

“GG Allin is like a cartoon character – a horrible, obscene cartoon character with a rich history of fucked up behaviour and a messiah complex, not to mention all the cum, shit, self abuse and abuse of others. He’s got an army of obsessive fans that is balanced out by those who hate and deride him”. (2015: 4)


Iconology strips GG Allin from the time/space of a fantasy in which the toleration of a devoted fan took place both artistically and visually. To give him an extra-diagetic life brought him an utopian safety to ensure his extreme actions. That was the moment when punk attitutes made sense in GG Allin’s context. His lyrics made sense unless they were not applied to a fantasy. Then, he became a flashpoint of where and when everything had possibilities like “legalizing murder”. His fans stated that GG was their God, yet, it was still the fantasy which was applied to their self, rather than a consciously focus on politics. Hated did a great work which apoliticized GG Allin from his fans’ discourse. The film did not bring out a determinist basis for becoming a fan who wanted to be apoliticised from the discourses they have been embarked. That was how the audience perceived GG Allin as if as much as they see GG Allin and apoliticize them from a discourse, they see themselves away from the politics of the environment that sorround them and dominantly embarked on them by governments, states and nations.

“As GG Allin stated in the mass media’s populer phenomenia on serial killers, he is a cartoon character to whom mass audiences follow, like and enjoy. He preached violence, but was almost always polite and respectful offstage. In some interviews he was soft spoken and thoughtful, while in others he was clearly putting on a show. He happily invited as many punches as he threw”. (2015: 4)

Hated: GG Allin and The Murder Junkies (1993) documentary


This essay has evaluated GG Allin as a non-discoursive artist despite his actions meant much for his fans. In order to determine a “non-discoursive” statement, GG Allin has been taken as a “body image” that required perspectives of pre-iconograpy, iconography and iconology. Pre-iconography followed Hated: GG Allin and The Murder Junkies’ structure to present him as the object of an eye without an over-voice. Iconography part took his actions and his lyrical themes to a level of fantasy which staged him to a fantastical view rather than politically acquired. The artist-artwork-audience framework has been given in terms of artist-message-receiver but the body image of GG Allin has only been what it was seen without an interpretation. Finally, iconology stripped GG Allin from all the real time/space to create him in a world of cartoon in which the toleration for his actions took place.


Bal, Mieke (1996) “Reading Art?” In Generations and Geographies in the Visual Arts: Feminist Readings, G. Pollock (ed). London: Routledge, pp. 29-52.

Barthes, Roland (1977) “The Rhetoric of the Image.” in Image-Music-Text, S. Heath (trans.) Glasgow: William and Collins and Sons, pp. 32-51.

Blood For You; A Literary Tribute to GG Allin (2015) Ed. Johnson, MP, Sam Richard, Weirdpunk Books.

Foucault, Michel (1978) “The Incitement to Discourse.” In The History of Sexuailty, Vol. 1. New York: Pantheon Books, pp. 17-35.

Rose, Gillian (2001) “Discourse Analysis I-II.” In Visual Methodologies. London: Sage, pp. 135-186.

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