Kate Bush or the soft pop synth sound of New Wave but I knew who John Lydon was and held a grudging respect – even amusement – for the man and his outrageous anarchist antics.
I still have fond memories of him flicking his V’s at the camera nearly a decade later on Saturday Superstore or Going Live or whatever woolly-jumpered guff the BBC was putting out on a Saturday morning back then. Cue pouts of outrage from Mike Read and Sarah Greene – how dare he besmirch our jolly kid’s show with his dirty punk fingers!
Meanwhile my sister and I were laughing ourselves silly like a couple of drains. It was almost as good as the legendary Five Star phone-in where an enterprising little potty mouth managed to slip through the BBC’s “real teen” censors and introduced kid’s telly to some rather choice four letter words. It was a remarkably succinct music review that has never ever been bettered in my opinion.
But I digress. John Lydon / Johnny Rotten was a somebody. He stood for something. He was spiky, dangerous and uncompromising. Values held in high esteem by any burgeoning teen / young adult.
So it’s depressing to note then that dear ol’ John has sold his anti-establishment ethos down the river in order to endorse / sell / promote Country Life Butter on our televisions. John loves Country Life Butter, you see, because “it’s British”. Cue clips of red buses, Morris Dancers and John himself in a nice tweed jacket sinking a large brandy in an old fart’s gentleman’s club. For a minute I thought I was watching the trailer for the next Austin Powers movie (John Lydon as Austin Powers: now there’s an interesting concept).
I realize Country Life are hoping to get themselves a bit of an edge by employing our John to hawk their wares in the Corrie ad breaks but to my mind it doesn’t really work. It doesn’t make me want to go out and buy a slab of Country Life Butter. It makes me want to hurl abuse at the TV screen. It makes me want to flick my V’s right into John Lydon’s pasty lily-white face.
John what the hell are you doing? Surely your mortgage is paid by now? Why?
It’s one thing to be a national character...
Quite another thing entirely to be a national caricature.