Wednesday, 10 April 2013

It's All Coming Back To Me Now - The Punk and The Punk'd

Johnny. That face couldn't be offensive, right?

The punk and the punk'd
by Jo Michelmore

Yeah, you knew this was going to happen, right? I mean, I write the vintage post, I couldn't ignore it, could I? You don't know what I'm talking about? Well, this week, here in Australia, we've been treated to a little controversy (yes, it's a very slow week in commercially viable news in this part of the world) and this controversy was courtesy of the one and only John Lydon, more commonly known as Johnny Rotten, that is; singer from that 70's punk band, the Sex Pistols. He appeared on a news talk show, where he did what Johnny Rotten does best; he ranted, he raved, he acted a bit crackers and he did it all with a hint of a smirk and somehow, after almost forty years of doing the same thing, he managed to offend the hosts of the TV show he was appearing on.


This completely amazed me. I mean, literal, hands over my face amazed. Not at what he said or did, that was classic Rotten, but seriously, guys? Hello generic TV show hosts, who are you? Where have you been for the past thirty or so years? You all look well over the age of thirty-five, so surely you've heard of Johnny Rotten before? At the start of the interview he even says "bad press is his thing" so what did you expect? Now, for those who may not know, Johnny Rotten is a guy who fronted a band called the Sex Pistols, who did this...


That there is some of the origins of punk music.

Did you hear that?

"I am an anti-Christ, I am an anarchist, don't know what I want, but I know how to get it"

It's not incredible musicianship, or lyric writing, for it's time it was just pure controversy and it was awesome because it was a political statement, it was confronting and in 1976, it was offensive. Johnny Rotten built his career on offensive. While the rest of Britain* was celebrating the Queen's Silver Jubilee (*possibly not all of Britain), Johnny and his strangely untalented friends were singing this....


Did you hear that? 

"God save the Queen, the facist regime...God save the Queen, she ain't no human being"

That's the British national anthem he's taking the piss out of there. Offensive? Well, I'm assuming a lot of people didn't like that, but really, it was just pushing some boundaries and it was songs like this that made it possible for a whole bunch of other boundary pushing artists to exist after the Sex Pistols. People like Marilyn Manson and Eminem and Azealia Banks and even Gaga; Johnny Rotten gets it...


See, for Johnny Rotten it's all about the publicity, it's always been about the publicity and by reacting so poorly, dear generic TV hosts, you've played perfectly into the hands of an artist who has made an art out of offense and he's been doing it so long it's second nature...


Johnny Rotten? I don't care how mysogynist or sexist or "damn rude" he supposedly was, by reacting the way they did, generic TV hosts managed to make themselves look as boring and self-righteous as they probably actually are. Then again, maybe I should be thankful for that, because they just reminded me why I prefer to turn my ipod on instead of my TV when I'm at home. Every now and then, when I turn on that ipod a song like this comes on...


...which makes me smile, becuase it reminds me that to influence popular culture and in turn, our society, to have a say, or just to to earn a simple living, you don't necassarily have to be a genius or have some kind of extraordinary talent; you just have to have a passion and know how to play the game. Even at 57, as annoying or as awesome as you find him, Johnny Rotten - he still gets that. Well played, sir, well played.

1 comment:

  1. I love this!
    Jo, this is so well written, and all I can say is hats absolutely off. I couldn't believe people were actually ranting about this all the next day on facebook. The day we are offended by JOhnny Rotten...

    I think my friend said it best, being offended by Johnny Rotten is like being angry at the tide coming in.

    Being offended by the person who fronted one of the most offensive punk bands that graced Britain's punk scene. The irony cannot be lost on everyone, right?


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