When I read the public reaction to John Lydon’s controversial interview on The Project on Tuesday, I imagine it being dictated in the tone of those letters to the editor complaining about The Youth of Today.
“I say,” they bluster “this Johnny Rotten chap sounds absolutely ghastly! Why, oh why do they let oiks like him on the television? Something must be done!”
These latter-day curmudgeons seem to be shocked that a former punk rocker acted like, well, a bit of punk.
Being obnoxious is Lydon’s main skill set. He has been shocking the middle class since the Sex Pistol’s first television appearance in 1976.
Surely the producers of The Project knew this when they arranged his prerecorded interview? And even if his behaviour was a surprise (perhaps they expected him to offer some cogent insights on the military build up on the Korean peninsula) they still chose to broadcast it. And put it on YouTube. And Tweeted about it.
Lydon certainly knew what he was doing. His band Public Image Limited is touring Australia at the moment and this “controversy” is worth thousands of dollars worth publicity for a musician who hasn’t been relevant since last century.
Both he and Channel 10 have profited from his notoriety.
He plays the pantomime rock star while we dutifully boo and hiss, sounding exactly like our shocked grandparents reacting to Rotten and company swearing on British TV.
If you are genuinely offended by Lydon’s cynically sexist comments, so be it. Just know you are being played far better than Sid Vicious ever managed on his bass guitar.