Now, I’m too young to remember the Sex Pistols in their heyday and the main memories I have of Vicious, Rotten and the gang are from my obligatory (and embarrassing) early-teen punk phase; and from those damned butter adverts.
But following the release of this video it’s interesting to see the apologetics from the left (and those who usually advocate feminist) in response to Rotten’s outburst. You only have to browse the comments section of any online newspaper (or even youtube) to see people arguing that “he’s always enjoyed controversial publicity”; or that he’s “just trolling”.
It could be that these things are true. But that does not excuse his language or his actions. Maybe Rotten was just playing to the crowd and having a laugh – but that does not make his misogynistic tirade okay.
In other situations, when other public figures make a rape joke, or a comment about the sexual attractiveness of a professional woman (see: Obama) people are outraged – and rightly so. What if people expect these kinds of comments from Rotten? People often expect sexist comments from certain types of men-about-town, that doesn’t make them less reprehensible.
Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, the female presenter – Bickmore ended the segment by saying that “his thing ain’t funny and it’s damn rude.” This shows that Bickmore had felt at least insulted by his comments. In many ways, excusing Rotten is the same as excusing workplace harassment because it was just a “joke with the lads”.
Overall, Rotten may have been a great musician and role model in the 70s – but today he sells butter and acts like he hasn’t been present for the last 40 years. He’s not an anarchist. He’s not the antichrist. He’s an outdated epithet of a by-gone era.