If one were feeling generous, one could argue that former Sex Pistols vocalist and Public Image Ltd. frontman John Lydon, a.k.a. Johnny Rotten, comes from the school of British punk that liked to say and do shocking things just to get a rise out of people. For example: He and his buddies weren’t Nazis, but they wore swastika T-shirts and armbands to offend their parents, who were of the WWII generation. (The “not actually Nazis” part is where the “alt-right” gets it twisted, but we digress.) But that defense is, arguably, no longer applicable to the post-butter commercial John Lydon, who’s approved bullshit from a Sex Pistols credit card to punk perfume and probably really does think that Donald Trump is a rebel at heart.
At least, that’s the kind of thing he’s been saying to anyone that will give him a microphone over the past week or so, starting with a soundbite saying that he’ll “sorely miss” Queen Elizabeth II when she dies, because “it’s not her fault she was born into a gilded cage.” (So, the song wasn’t ironic?) But that’s just the beginning: The big dump came when Lydon appeared on ITV’s Good Morning Britain yesterday, where he expressed support for Brexit—“The working class have spoken and I’m one of them and I’m with them,” he said—and called Donald Trump “a complicated fellow“ before defending him against accusations of racism coming from “the left-wing media” in America.
He didn’t exactly put on a studded MAGA hat, but he did say: “There are many, many problems with him as a human being, but he’s not [racist], and there just might be a chance something good will come out of that situation because he terrifies politicians.” Easy for you to say when you’re one of the few immigrants—Lydon has lived in L.A. since the ‘80s—who Trump probably isn’t going to deport, but sure. Anarchy or whatever. He added: “This is a joy to behold for me. Dare I say, [Trump could be] a possible friend.”
Lydon then clarified his stance—by which we mean he muddled it even further—on Virgin Radio UK, saying he “isn’t going to follow [Trump] to the grave” but “America has a new president, whether you like him or not, you have to support him, or you will destroy the country.” This is coming from a man who famously sang a song called “Anarchy In The U.K.” that was banned for its anti-establishment lyrics. God save his publicist.