John Lydon doesn’t need fame, he doesn’t need fortune and he doesn’t give a flying. He has no flagging career to revive, he has no desire to persuade people to love him, and he thinks I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! is mainstream rubbish. His persona is sneering and arrogant, and everything he does he does on his own terms entirely.
Hence he has signed up to appear on I’m a Celebrity…, alongside an incongruous collection of people who have made vague appearances in the headlines, and one celeb who’s rarely out of them, on account of her acute intellect.
John Lydon learned his art at the hands of that true hero of hype, Malcolm McLaren. Whether it was a photoshoot in front of Buckingham Palace, the first “f**k” on television, or outraging (middle) England by not liking the jubilee too much, Lydon and McLaren knew exactly how to wind up the public and the media. They had the gift of timing. In PR terms, that meant they knew how to be in the wrong place at the right time, or the right place at the wrong time.
I’m a Celebrity… is very definitely the wrong place. It’s so very wrong, so very perverse, that Lydon’s decision to participate is completely logical. From the point of view of the producers, faced with flagging viewing figures, it’s a masterstroke. They will secure a whole new audience, and a whole raft of coverage. (Like this).
Most of the influential culturati are ageing middle class punks. If you talk to them, you’ll discover they knew Malcolm McLaren personally, they were the first to spot the Sex Pistols’ raw talent, they were the first to wear the fashion, they had to do double detention at public school for wearing safety pins on their blazers, and in fact, now you come to mention it, they were solely and wholly responsible for the entire musical movement.
Such radical educated folk wouldn’t touch I’m a Celebrity… with a barge pole under normal circumstances (except to write articles about how they wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole). I think I must have done it myself, at some stage.
Now it is imperative that they watch it, as those who remember his appearance on Juke Box Jury will be aware. Maybe Lydon will resurrect the glory days of insolent anarchy.
His proximity to a DJ who once banned Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Relax, a former royal correspondent (whose participation is far less explicable than the ex-Sex Pistol’s), and a convicted fraudster and aristocrat – not to mention an irrepressibly cheeky pair of goody-two-shoes Geordie lads – promises some rich entertainment. After all, if he’s not in it for the money, the profile, or his career, then he’s just there for the laugh, and he’ll make sure he has it, whatever.
Or he could have a real laugh and just be dull. Which, from his perspective, would truly piss off his employers. Well, f**k ’em.