Tuesday, January 20, 2004
London As Johnny Rotten once snarled, "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?"
To the dismay of aging punk fans, a British television company announced Monday that the former Sex Pistols singer and angry punk icon -- now known by his real name, John Lydon -- has agreed to appear in the reality show "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here!"
"I'm gobsmac-ked," said Tony Wilson, a British journalist and music entrepreneur who knows Lydon. "I'm shocked, but I have faith ... I'm sure he's doing it for the right reasons."
Other punk fans were appalled.
"The announcement made me feel instantly old. ... If it has come to this for the prince of punk, then mediocrity really does get us all in the end," wrote Lee Randall in The Scotsman newspaper.
In The Guardian, rock critic Charles Shaar Murray said "minds boggled" when rumors of Lydon's participation surfaced. "Whatever happened to punk rock, maaaaan?"
Britain's near-insatiable appetite for celebrity gossip -- no matter how minuscule the celebrity -- and love of reality TV has spawned a clutch of celeb-reality hybrids, including "Celebrity Big Brother" and "Drop the Celebrity," in which the moderately famous face ejection (with parachute) from a plane.
"I'm a Celebrity," which begins its third run Monday, strands C-list celebs in the Australian jungle, subjects them to a series of icky trials and allows the public to vote them off the show one by one.
The show has proved a hit in Britain, drawing up to 14 million viewers -- nearly a quarter of the population. A U.S. version on ABC last year fared less well.