1978 NBC news segment on the horrors of The Sex Pistols coming to America

Everyone on the staff of NBC seems to be on quaaludes in this mind-numbing but historically interesting 1978 segment about the Sex Pistols US tour. The one exception is co-anchor Jane Pauley, who I suspect was a secret fan, judging from her overly bright eyes and restrained giggling as she feigns disgust about Johnny Rotten repeatedly blowing his nose while on stage, and proving to her co-anchor that she knows "God Save the Queen" by humming the melody. Everyone else is freaked out in a weirdly restrained way (one reporter says Johnny Rotten looks like a "reincarnated Gary Gilmore," even though Rotten bears zero resemblance to the infamous murderer).

From Open Culture:

In the vintage Today Show clip above, see how US viewers were introduced to British punk. “Whether naturally or calculatedly so,” says NBC’s Jack Perkins after reporting on Vicious and drummer Paul Cook’s refusal to grant an interview unless they were each paid $10, “the four young men are outrageous. They’re also vile and profane.”

Perkins then walks viewers through the hardly shocking details of rudeness to hotel staff and bit of a mess left in their room, shaking his head sadly. No band could hope to top Led Zeppelin when it came to this most cliched of rock and roll stunts. But Perkins pretends it’s the first time anything like it had ever happened. McLaren could not have scripted better finger-wagging outrage to inspire American gawkers (some of whom give brief post-concert interviews) to come out and see the Pistols flame out on their final tour.

Then there are the record execs Perkins gets on camera, including A&M’s Kip Cohen, who sized up the situation astutely: “There’s a case of an act and management and intelligence behind an act, brilliantly utilizing the media, cashing in and creating a whole hype for itself.” Cohen, a seasoned industry man who had previously managed the Fillmore East, predicts great things for the Sex Pistols. But he expresses some skepticism about whether their savvy media manipulation was a new phenomenon, citing the Beatles and the Stones as having already broken such ground.

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