March 13, 2008

Johnny Rotten, Television Personality

1976- a 19-year old from a poor family with rotten teeth and a permanently deformed back (from a childhood case of spinal meningitis) becomes frontman for the most infamous band in the world. Their notoriety is largely due to Johnny and company's remarks on the Bill Grundy show: 1979- after the Sex Pistols self-destruct, Johnny immediately forms Public Image Ltd. with guitar pioneer Keith Levene. Still a prankster, he pulls off what I consider to be one of the most subversive moments in television history, a call to arms on "American Bandstand": 1997- Johnny appears on "Judge Judy", presumably to promote the Sex Pistols reunion to an audience of daytime tv-watching housewives: 2004- Johnny appears on the British version of I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! In most cases, reality shows are the final circle of hell for washed-up celebrities. But he proves himself still capable of getting on people's nerves by calling the show's viewers a bunch of "f*cking c*nts" during a live broadcast. Sadly, this moment is not available on youtube, nor is the series of insect documentaries he hosted for the discovery channel. What's next? A cooking show? (if the title "Rotten Food" showed up on my digital cable menu, I would definitely click on it. He lives nearby, maybe I should pitch the concept to him).


Lance Ehlers said...

Johnny's basically a professional smarty-pants who also happens to make music. Notice that I didn't say professional asshole-- there's a difference. A smarty-pants like Johnny is intelligent enough and charming enough to be likeable. And most of the time, his behavior is justified and entertaining. I would say that Morrissey and Noel Gallagher are also professional smarty-pants's.

Now, a professional asshole would be someone like Bill O'Riley. They're the kind of scary, warped humans who spew nonsense and bully kids in gym class and cheat and lie and generate the very kind of bullshit which allows the smarty-pants to thrive.

stexe said...

Well said. All the same, I think he's an asshole, but in an amusing way. Bill O'Reilly is just a cranky old man, too ignorant for anyone to take seriously. Sean Hannity, on the other hand, is a real sick bastard.

I was inspired to do this post because I saw the season finale of "Extras" last night, which just came out on video. In it, Ricky Gervais' character has given up on pursuing a career with any degree of integrity. After getting no acting jobs for months, he's reduced to appearing on "celebrity big brother". Such is the destiny of popular artists these days: after you've stopped making anything marketable on your own, you end up like flavor flav or johnny rotten, selling yourself, like a circus freak, to reality shows based upon public humiliation and schadenfreude.

hot funk said...

One of the many things that freak me (in a good way) was PIL on Bandstand. Between that and most of the music acts on Fridays, show me that there is a whole other world out there.