February 05, 2004



Two superegos, again, two 'consciences.'

One: Mark Sinker, the other: Robin Undercurrent.

One telling me to watch, enjoy the other telling me to turn off, reflect.

I feel the pull of them both.

It was only reluctantly, but I suppose inevitably, that I succumbed to watching I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here this time. Part of me goes with Robin and regards it as utterly pernicious trash: at best, a waste of time, at worst, a sign of deep cultural malaise. Part of me goes with Mark and Freaky Trigger: I'm a Celebrity is must-watch TV, trivial but harmless. I was similarly divided about Lydon's appearance: appalled (has it really come to this?) but also compelled (how can I miss this?)

'Now we don't even have programmes on, we have programmes featuring a once-radical figure - as a cipher, a labrat inside the efficiently-clonable dream of a production company,' Robin complains. And who can doubt it? The irony is that Lydon has become his own Public Image, his own simulation, at the same time, as Marcello complains below, that PiL have been excised from his c.v. Still, he had probably plumbed the depths of auto-exploitation with the Filthy Lucre tour. Was it then that he elected to become a pantomime Sex Pistol, to play the part that McLaren demanded of him back in the seventies, but which, then, he rejected? Robin's right, Lydon swearing on TV is playing his expected part to a 't'. There was scarcely any evidence of his chafing against his assigned role. (Even walking out was part of it).

Robin: 'Celebrities as 'normal people', what a crushing double-bind.' Yes, indeed, and that's what I intended to express by talking about 'celebreality': the obverse of 'ordinary people' becoming celebrities on reality TV is celebrities becoming 'ordinary people'. Reality TV is the great leveller, and as such, is inimical to the very aristocratic principle behind celebrity. Celebrity, exactly like royalty, cannot withstand too much 'reality.' Reality TV is only TV to the nth degree. As McLuhan said, when people passed film stars in the street, they would think 'That's a screen star!' but when they passed television stars, they would say, 'That's someone I know.'

My God, as I type, there's a programme on ITV in which Fern Britton and Philp Schoffield are almost counselling Neal Ruddock's mum on his ejection last night. The solemn gravity, christ, you'd think he'd been in a train crash....

Check this. Christine Hamilton on Lydon: 'I feel let down by him.'

P.S. So much for k-punk's powers of prediction. Only hours after k-punk announced a Jordan-Lydon final, Lydon walks out.....

Posted by mark at February 5, 2004 06:06 PM | TrackBack

Me as your superego...sounds like a tough gig, even jobsharing with Sinker, does it pay well?

Posted by: undercurrent at February 5, 2004 07:09 PM


Depends what currency your'e talking....

Posted by: mark k-punk at February 5, 2004 07:22 PM

i love PiL obv but by exiting the pistols JR was definitely stepping back OUT of the "radical" into a safer and more comfortable role for himself, music notwithstanding: ie regaining control of how he was seen by the world, detoxifying the interface -> he stopped being (at least as he felt it) purely a vector for the desires of others and became an artist/entertainer making bid for command of the desires of others

(actually - i only just thought of this - the reason PiL has fallen off the CV is that as a project it badly needed its McLaren: someone able to say no to lydon now and then) (absolute freedom = he ended up getting bored with it)

Posted by: mark s at February 5, 2004 07:55 PM

incidentally i think taking part in the ghastly "filth and the fury" debacle was a far more culpable crime punk-wise than filthy lucre OR get me out of here

Posted by: mark s at February 5, 2004 07:59 PM

Fascinating reversal-of-perspective observations, as ever, Mark. Did you manage to catch any of JL on Celebrity in the end btw?

Posted by: mark k-punk at February 5, 2004 08:15 PM

haha abt four seconds!! the only bit i've watched at all was some woman who was no celebrity to me (= i don't know her name) crawl through some glass cases of cockroaches, feathers etc

this was mildly intriguing if only for the person-to-person variation (and to me strangeness) of what ppl will put up with and what they refuse (ie no prob with cockroaches but can't deal with snakes) (i guess i'm assuming they were non-venomous = hence totally harmless!!) ( but i love snakes)

it is as pernicious i wd say as "it's a knockout"

Posted by: mark s at February 5, 2004 08:29 PM

I guess in itself it's harmless but what is pernicious about it - if anything is - is the cultural centrality it assumes ---- what Robin was decrying about it reflexively announcing that it's a Major Cultural Happening ---- and we all agreeing ---- Lydon's presence there a kind of grim reminder of what cultural events once were/ could be.....

btw, that must have been Alex Best you saw crawling through the boxes. Agree about the snakes, I love em too, that seemed like the easy bit after the plague of roaches.....

Posted by: mark k-punk at February 5, 2004 08:54 PM

"unhappy the land that has nothing of cultural centrality" vs "unhappy the land that needs things of cultural centrality"?

Posted by: mark s at February 5, 2004 09:03 PM

in a place where whatever you do becomes 'entertainment,' walking out probably _was_ the most radical gesture. But why let yourself in for it to start with?

The few times I've seen it, it always seems to be a posh bloke talking to a model(?), and for some reason the audio is always blanked-out by a soundtrack of chirping cicadas, presumably to make it seem like he might be saying something interesting?

Posted by: undercurrent at February 6, 2004 09:37 AM

It's cos they mention brand names - it's the single most infuriating thing about the live bits of Reality TV, much better if they forced the contestants to memorise and use vaguely altered names a la Pro Evo 3!

Posted by: Tom at February 6, 2004 10:44 AM