Friday, March 8, 2019

Johnny Rotten vs. Punk vs. the world

John Lydon performing with P.I.L. in Paris in 2013
John Lydon is still awesome, I don't care what anyone says. He's old and fat and drunk and he makes butter commercials but he can still rile people up like no one else. That video of him being belligerent with Marky Ramone is a fucking riot. Sat in the middle of ageing "punk stars" (if such a term doesn't strike terror in your soul then you don't have one) taking themselves way too seriously (when has Henry Rollins not been full of himself?) he does his usual number, disparages the whole movement, its participants (including himself) and in the process manages to redeem and exemplify it.

Why does he do it? Why is good ol' Johnny such an aggressive clown? There is no single answer to this. One is attention, of course. Another one is, that's all he knows. Another one could be that it's a defence mechanism. And yet another one is, because he's having fun.

For all his highfallutin gesticulations and boisterous claims that he hates punk and rock and everything they stand for, I suspect that he does care about it all. Quite a lot, too. Whether he likes it or not, Punk is his legacy. It may be nothing more than amphetamine-fuelled pub rock, it may have been co-opted by t-shirt companies and it may have produced an army of clones with zero musical identity but it was the last earth-shattering movement in rock music. Even grunge was just a rehash.

Marky Ramone is such a fucking poser. To still be wearing his disguise twenty years after the band he joined disbanded is pathetic. Duff is cool and he seems a bit embarrassed but Donita Sparks comes off as the real hero here. Genuine respectful but not overly deferent, standing her ground.

The only way this could have been more entertaining is if Jello Biafra had been there.

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