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Movie Review: The Public Image Is Rotten
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By DougVThem

The Public Image Is Rotten (2018)
Documentary
Featuring John Lydon (The Sex Pistols, Public Image Ltd)
Directed by Tabbert Fiiller
Abramorama
Release date: September 14, 2018 (New York)

I could never be willful on a farm. The only things you can antagonize are the cows. – John Lydon (Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs, 1994)

It was in San Francisco on January 14, 1978 when John Lydon uttered the off the cuff remark that would become the proverbial eulogy of his intentionally sensationalized punk rock band, The Sex Pistols.

“You ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?,” Johnny Rotten snarled at the Winterland Ballroom audience, while his band unceremoniously petered out behind him. Soon after the break up, Sex Pistols’ manager Malcolm McLaren legally stripped Lydon of his stage name “Johnny Rotten.” After fronting a rock and roll media phenomenon, Lydon soon found himself broke and his public image confiscated.

Talbert Fiiller‘s documentary The Public Image Is Rotten is structured around a series of interviews with the now 62-year-old Lydon recalling, with some uncharacteristic openness, the rises, demises, and ultimate resurrection of his post-Sex Pistols band, Public Image Limited (PiL). It’s a complicated tale that spans four decades and features an all-star roster of notable line-up changes.

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