Lydon and Brand not minding the bollocks

John Lydon sneering at Russell Brand is like the left testicle calling the right testicle a bollock.

Two bollocks hanging in a rowIt all started when Lydon, née Johnny Rotten, was invited to a Guardian readers’ Q&A in which Lydon explained his stance on the burning issues of the day: he likes his bacon butties with any kind of sauce, lime yoghurt is his religion; voting is good and Russell Brand isn’t.

“I suggest everybody votes,” Lydon said of the former.

“I think [Brand has] absolutely clarified himself as arsehole number one,” said Lydon of the latter.

The last two comments were considered so noteworthy by The Graun they were given their own breakout in a video chat between Lydon and the normally astute political columnist Polly Toynbee, in which the Sex Pistol expanded on his theme: “It’s the most idiotic thing I’ve ever heard,” he said of the famously anti-voting Brand’s calls for revolution.

The most idiotic thing he’s ever heard? Evidently, Mr Lydon doesn’t get out very much.

Yes, Lydon’s dander has been raised by the comedian’s recent engagement with politics, and he may have a point or two.

pinky and pinkyFor a man who knows a lot of big words, Brand is strangely inarticulate. There might be a real case for not voting but you wouldn’t know it listening to the hairy one’s prolix tangles. There might be a good reason to rise up in revolution, but Mr Brand has serially failed to explain what this revolution might be about, how it might happen, and what might replace the system we have now. It’s as if he has realised that if you get on a soapbox people will stare, which he likes, but has failed to click that words need substance to have any weight or meaning.

Brand’s call for revolution just hangs there on it’s own with nothing round it, a lot like a single bollock.

All we really know is that he wants a revolution and he wants it now and we are left to infer the rest — presumably the rest being that it provides another talking point to keep him on TV and in The Guardian. Which has worked very well.

Attacking Brand’s politics is a bit like shooting a large, stunned fish in a small barrel with a big scattergun. It’s very easy, and you have to ask whether there’s any point to it.

two_cherries04Meanwhile, Mr No-Anarchy-in-the-UK-After-All is looking snug in his political cardigan, peddling out the quaint and conservative view that voting is inherently good. “I suggest everybody votes, everybody should try to make the best of a bad situation, and for me I despise the entire shitstem because it is corrupt, but that corruption has only come about because of the indolence of us as a population.”

Has he thought this through? What if, Mr Lydon, your voting choice is between a cold cup of tea, an oil stain, a puff of smoke, and a jelly fish? Which would you choose? Or making an analogy closer to home, if your choice is between a small selection of careerist, muppets who have never done a real day’s work in their lives and who are falling over themselves to be sucked by lobbyists and grasp the corporate dollar, who are you going to choose? Tell us, really.

Why validate any of these choices with your valuable vote?

Lydon is perpetuating the even quainter belief that simply voting is participating in civic life and expressing your will about the society you live in. Voting only makes sense if any of the choices make sense. Voting for the corrupt shitstem will simply perpetuate it.

It is a fair point about the ‘corruption’ being a product of indolence (or disengagement to choose a better word). Your choices are indeed likely to be unappetising if you have done nothing to shape or determine the choices on offer.

While we are on the subject, would it be unfair to ask what Mr Lydon has personally done to make the system any less of a corrupt shitstem?

Lydon himself has financed his anti-establishment musical career through real estate, selling butter, and appearing on I’m a Celebrity, none of which looks like political activism — or political coherence.

two_cherries03He has gigged in Israel, and when challenged about the ethics of this, responded that he saw no need to stand up for the Palestinians because they had no democracy. This is not evidence of a capacity for joined-up thinking.

In The Guardian Q&A he spoke up for a Ghandi-inspired belief in non-violent opposition, but how this squares with his outward lack of any opposition at all or his arrests for violent assault is left to our imagination.

Given a choice of Lydon or Brand, it’s hard to decide which one makes least sense.

Worse, what does it say about us that our political discourse is conducted by celebrity gobshites?

If it is an alternative view that we seek, why not ask Natalie Bennett, who has just been excluded by the TV media from the upcoming leaders’ debates? Or representatives from some of the other parties that get scant mention in the news?

If you specifically want the views of artists or non-politicians there are many who actually can string meaningful thoughts together. I can provide a list to interested parties.

Two bollocks in a podIs it possible that The Guardian isn’t bothered? Might they be fine facilitating this celebrity spat? It won’t have escaped your notice that The Guardian is currently promoting Lydon’s autobiography for their own bookshop and hosting a live revolution-themed event with Brand. Might Brand and Lydon spitting at each other generate more clicks than a coherent alternative perspective? Just a thought.

This trading of ill-formed views by fame-deformed minds is all part of the very (post-) modern phenomenon of the blurring of politics and media spectacle. Bono? Sting? Boris? Geldof, anybody?

Never mind, it’s all just celebrity bollocks, isn’t it.

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About chrispagefiction

Author of the novels Sanctioned, Weed, King of the Undies World, and The Underpants Tree; also the story collection Un-Tall Tales; editor, freelance writer and all that stuff. At heart he is a London person, but the rest of his body is a long-term exile in Osaka, Japan.
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One Response to Lydon and Brand not minding the bollocks

  1. richmalpass says:

    I actually think that a mild fusion of the warring parties philosophies would result in the best outcome!

    http://lovelanguageloveliterature.com/2014/10/29/whos-afraid-of-the-big-bad-brand/

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