God save Johnny Rotten from social media.
Following an altercation with a female interviewer on an Australian talk show, John Lydon, the former Sex Pistol and current frontman for Public Image Ltd, is taking heat on Twitter and other social networking sites this week, with one YouTube commenter calling the singer a “rude, sexist arse hole” with “no place in the 21st century.”
Ahead of an Australian tour that began on Tuesday, Lydon was interviewed remotely by the Channel 10 program “The Project,” during which co-host Carrie Bickmore attempted to ask him about the late Margaret Thatcher. Lydon had been intensely critical of the conservative British prime minister throughout his career, but instead of answering Bickmore’s question, he berated the host for speaking over him.
“Hey, hey, hey, Missus. Shut up. Whoever you are, shut up. Now listen, when a man is talking, do not interrupt,” Lydon said.
The back and forth continued from there, with Lydon repeatedly telling Bickmore and her co-host to keep their voices down. Much of the confusion appeared to stem from a problem with Lydon’s earpiece. The singer complained about the volume of the hosts’ voices and tugged multiple times on his ear.
“I understand that you’re talking to a proper master of the universe, right? But lay off the shouting, because that makes it unbearable,” Lydon said.
The hosts eventually cut the interview short, but the incident was picked up by other news outlets, with the filth and the fury naturally spreading quickly across Twitter. The Guardian’s Hadley Freeman had this to say:
It's the way Johnny Rotten finishes off his sexist rant with a Nazi salute that makes this clip so heartwarming guardian.co.uk/music/video/20…
— Hadley Freeman (@HadleyFreeman) April 11, 2013
Bickmore herself has also responded to her antagonizer, using the hashtage #johnnyrottenknob, which has since taken off:
My mum always told me never to stoop to someone else's level. Must have been preparing me for Johnny Rotten.#johnnyrottenknob
â€” Carrie Bickmore (@BickmoreCarrie) April 9, 2013
Since his days as a central figure of the 1970s British punk rock movement, Lydon has maintained an antagonistic relationship with the press, often mocking his interviewers and refusing to answer their questions. The routine has sloped into a form of self-parody over the years, with the singer having lost his youthful looks while retaining his adolescent angst. At 57, he still seems obstinately uninterested in being liked, which makes it difficult to imagine his being very concerned by the slew of angry Twitter comments taking aim at his latest tirade. Lydon himself has no personal Twitter account.
The singer has since denied that his comments to Bickmore were sexist, however. Arriving in Sydney on Wednesday, Lydon insisted to reporters that he is no misogynist. “My only enemies are the governments and institutions,” he said, as reported by SF Gate. “Certainly not women. I’ve been married to one for 30 years. We love each other.”
As for his thoughts on the late Thatcher, Lydon cleared that up in a separate interview, as reported by the UK’s Daily Express: “I’m not going to dance on her grave,” he said of Thatcher. “I was her enemy in her life, but I will not be her enemy in her death.”
So were Lydon’s comments sexist or just the antics of a professional instigator? Oh, bollocks. Watch the clip below and decide for yourselves, wankers.