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Johnny Rotten versus the Establishment; Gloria Steinem on Feminism Today; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired December 23, 2015 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London with a
special edition of our program, looking back at some of our highlights of this year.
And we have two really special social and political and cultural trailblazers for you this evening.
Here in Britain, the Queen made history, passing an important milestone with typical understatement, becoming the longest reigning
British monarch on September 9th, surpassing the record held by her great- great-grandmother, Queen Victoria.
For Her Majesty, it was business as usual, opening a train station in Scotland, a good excuse then for a rendition of "God Save the Queen."
(VIDEO CLIP, "GOD SAVE THE QUEEN")
AMANPOUR (voice-over): That, of course, is the alternative anthem, which was written in 1977 for the Queen's Silver Jubilee by my next guest,
Johnny Lydon or Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols, as he was known then.
(VIDEO CLIP, "ANGER IS AN ENERGY")
AMANPOUR (voice-over): John Lydon has traveled from fringe to cultural icon over 40 years as a musician, anti-establishment lightning rod
and godfather of punk.
(VIDEO CLIP, "DOUBLE TROUBLE")
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Now amidst touring for his new album, "What the World Needs Now," with his band, Public Image Ltd, he joined me here in
the studio on that historic royal day.
AMANPOUR: John Lydon, welcome to the program.
LYDON: And ho.
AMANPOUR: It's an accident, a brilliant coincidence, who would have thunk it, that the day Queen Elizabeth II becomes the longest reigning
monarch in England, of all people, John Lydon, Johnny Rotten --
AMANPOUR: -- was my guest?
LYDON: Thank God this is modern times because, if it was in the old days, by tradition, they've have had her head off by now.
AMANPOUR: And you of course, did a fabulous anthem.
Do you stand by those words that we just heard -- "fascist," "moron," "H-bomb?"
LYDON: Yes, so actually some of them turned out to be extremely, very seriously true.
The idea of monarchy annoys me. I'd rather see money spent on education and national health.
AMANPOUR: Does the idea of the Queen --
LYDON: -- as people, I had no animosity to them at all. And, in fact, almost like a sad sense of pity because I feel that they're born into
a gilded cage, not of their own design.
AMANPOUR: You are an outsider or at least you spent most of your life --
LYDON: Not willingly.
AMANPOUR: -- no.
But it -- did it stem from that really terrible childhood illness that you had at 7?
LYDON: Oh, yes.
AMANPOUR: Spinal meningitis.
AMANPOUR: What did it do to you?
LYDON: Well, it put me in a coma for nearly up to four months -- and thank God for the National Health Service, you see.
But when I came out of there, I had completely lost my memory of everything and even body motivation. I wouldn't know how to manipulate my
own fingers or do anything at all.
And it's screaming inside to try and communicate; what I thought was speech to everybody else was just mindless babble. So but basically a
And I stuck with the hairstyle, very, very bad.
But four years it took me to fully get those memories back and a year in hospital and then had to leave that. But sent back to school, not even
fully aware of who I was.
And it was a Catholic school and it was run by nuns. They were obviously the teachers. And they were the ones that threw in this dummy,
dum-dum tag on me. And --
AMANPOUR: Did they?
LYDON: Oh, yes. And that meant all --
AMANPOUR: So you were meant to feel sick.
LYDON: Yes. Yes, it was stupid.
AMANPOUR: And that pretty much --
LYDON: -- and they should have known better, because I could read and write at 4.
AMANPOUR: Well, and then you went on and you had the famous Johnny Rotten stare and that you told me --
LYDON: All from that time --
AMANPOUR: -- because you really couldn't see.
LYDON: Yes, no, it seriously affected everything. The eye muscles had been weakened. It's very hard for me to focus. The Johnny Rotten
stare is, where are you?
AMANPOUR: What about -- and, again, I ask you, because you have had a very interesting commentary on all that goes on in the world, with your
songs, with your books, with your new album.
Your first book was called, "Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs."
AMANPOUR: And that was because.
LYDON: That's the sign they used to put on the hotels and motels up and down this wonderful Great Britain of ours, where open racism and
separation was the order of the day.
AMANPOUR: So what do you think when you see all these refugees -- I mean, this crisis that Europe is undergoing right now?
LYDON: Isn't it amazing that these governments seem so ill-prepared for what was obviously going to happen after them foolish wars out there?
This is the catastrophic, ultimately completely predictable situation.
And they're all now, running around and flustering around, adopting a picture of that poor, sweet little kid dead on the beach. And they're
claiming that as their own and that's their rallying point for doing something. They're not doing nothing.
AMANPOUR: What about the --
LYDON: And there's problems here, too, really, because I mean they're escaping something ghastly and terrible. But they have a religious concept
with them that they're going to introduce into Europe in vast numbers. And I think that --
AMANPOUR: Are you worried about that?
LYDON: Well, I don't know I should be or not. But I know it's not right to ignore that --
AMANPOUR: -- John Lydon is not an Islamophobe, is he?
No, you're more than welcome to it. But don't be telling me what to do. And there goes that.
And every penny I would have made, if I was asked, I'd put into helping them poor people.
AMANPOUR: Are you still the punk inclination?
You've got a new album out with Public Image, "What the World Needs Now."
Is that correct?
LYDON: Yes, which is clearly a most amazingly accurate title for the situation we're now finding ourselves in. What the world needs now is
transparency in politics, in everything and particularly religion and all these things that dictate and dominate our lives.
We need to know, as I said previously, why nothing was prepared for the most obvious mass immigration -- complete desperation -- but it was
coming. We all knew it. And yet no one was prepared for it. That utterly disgusts me.
Now as for me and my lifestyle, I'm true to the same set of values I had when I recovered from meningitis. I decided, from that point on, I
would never lie to anyone ever again because I know what the pain of being lied to was. It was very important to me when I was younger. Everything
said to me, I had to believe it.
And so you know, I found my mommy and daddy again. But the guilt is there forever -- how could you forget people? And so there it is, yes.
King of the punks always will tell it like it is.
AMANPOUR: And what about -- you said politics and you expressed your continued disgust with mainstream politics. You are in the United States -
LYDON: Oh, please, you have to vote -- I'll tell you --
AMANPOUR: -- yes, yes, but you're in the United States, OK?
Now you're an American citizen; you can vote.
What do you make of what really is, in the early days, a circus on the campaign?
LYDON: Oh, yes. Well, there's a man there who's basically a real estate agent thinking he can buy the presidency.
AMANPOUR: Wait a minute.
Who are you talking about?
AMANPOUR: Donald Trump?
LYDON: Must I mention him?
Then there's Hillary and then there's all this nonsense going on about -- like the email stuff and that -- I don't know if that's half
scaremongering or she really is that clumsy.
I joined America because of ObamaCare. All right. That was my --
AMANPOUR: Not Obama, but ObamaCare?
LYDON: ObamaCare, yes.
AMANPOUR: How interesting.
LYDON: Yes, because it reminds me -- and it's what saved my life, the National Health Service. It also saved my brother a couple of years ago
from cancer and imminent death but for this -- the service being there.
I can't bear the thought of any society letting people die just because they don't have the money. And any society I connect with has to
care about its citizens.
AMANPOUR: On that note, John Lydon, thank you very much indeed.
LYDON: It's been fun.
AMANPOUR: It's been fun.
AMANPOUR: And after a break, we turn to another legendary insurgent, the woman who's been fighting for equality, liberty and sisterhood for
decades. Iconic feminist Gloria Steinem tells me about her life on the road and where that'll lead -- next.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to our special edition, looking back at some of our highlights this year. And there is not a feminist in the world more
recognizable than Gloria Steinem. A tireless American activist, she has spent decades championing equal rights for women.
Now, at 81, her word has spread far and wide all over this world from her first major book, "Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions," to her
latest, which she released this year, "My Life on the Road."
Gloria Steinem joined me to discuss a life of activism.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program.
GLORIA STEINEM, FEMINIST: Thank you so much.
AMANPOUR: Great to have you here.
I want to start with your life on the road. And I was actually -- didn't know how big a part your early young travels played in your feminist
career and your activism, organizing career.
You went to India and there you met people who talked to you about talking circles. I had never heard of that, even though apparently they've
been a form of governance for generations.
STEINEM: Yes, really they are the original form of governance and --
AMANPOUR: What does it mean?
STEINEM: -- well, it means sitting in a circle, each person able, in their turn, to tell their problem or their story or whatever it is, with
everybody listening and consensus more important than time. And it's really crucial.
And indeed, our constitution was based on the Iroquois Confederacy version of this.
AMANPOUR: And how did that -- what sort of triggered in your mind about how you would take what you learned?
What did you actually experience there and how did you use it coming back here?
STEINEM: In the beginning, because I thought India was completely separate from us, it took me a long time to understand how crucial it was
that every major social justice movement comes out of this kind of sharing of concerns; discovering you're not crazy, the system is crazy.
You know, whether it is the civil rights movement here in black churches in the South or the women's movement here in consciousness-raising
circles or the --
STEINEM: -- Chinese Revolution in speaking bitterness circles. It is the fundamental around-the-campfire form that we all need.
AMANPOUR: When you look back and you write this book, which is really instructive and entertaining at the same time, we've been through several
waves of feminism.
Where are we now?
Because some people think the fight is over.
STEINEM: The people who say the fight is over are the same people who used to say to me it's impossible. It's against nature. And now their
current form of obstructionism is it's over.
No, no, we've just barely begun.
AMANPOUR: Again, going back to India, you were there; you observed the female prime minister, Indira Gandhi, being the first, controversially,
to enact a family planning program.
But you also know that there is infanticide there and obviously girls are the ones who get aborted. We talked also to an activist recently about
the continuing abomination of female genital mutilation. And she put it in these terms that you're talking about. Just listen and we'll talk about
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: I understand that one of the priorities for you was to have a cabinet that was gender balanced.
Why was that so important to you?
JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: Because it's 2015.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: All right, that's the right sound bite of the wrong moment but let's just talk about that, then we'll get back to that.
STEINEM: That was good news.
AMANPOUR: That was really good news, exactly, that's right. That was the recent prime minister of Canada, saying it's 2015 and we need gender
balance in the cabinet.
That must have sounded great to you, right?
That went viral.
STEINEM: Yes, absolutely. It makes perfect sense and we have made progress in a lot of ways.
But we still discuss, say, foreign policy and terrorism and all the disasters that you report as if it was separate from the women's movement.
The women's movement is a silo over here, foreign policy is a silo over there and never the twain shall meet.
AMANPOUR: How do you think the twain meet?
STEINEM: The twain meet because the single biggest predictor of violence in a culture has always been the polarization of roles,
hypermasculinity on one side, hyperfeminity of women and reproduction control on the other side.
And if we simply looked at that as an indicator, we would not, for instance, have supported, say, the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, who turned
into the Taliban because they were way more hostile and way more violent towards females than the regime we helped them overthrow.
AMANPOUR: Let me play that other sound bite because it goes to the heart of what we're talking about. This is about female genital
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEYLA HUSSEIN, FGM SURVIVOR AND ACTIVIST: There is a reason why our genitals were specifically targeted. Women are not supposed to have sexual
pleasure, women are not supposed to experiment with their sexuality.
So we need to ask ourselves, why is there such a focus on women's sexuality?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEINEM: Yes. I mean, it's taking away women's sexual will, women's sexual pleasure and turning them into nothing but a controlled means of
reproduction. That's an extreme form of it. But it is in gradated forms in many cultures.
AMANPOUR: Here you are, I said you're 81, nobody would believe it if they looked at you.
STEINEM: I don't believe it.
AMANPOUR: Once somebody asked you, oh, my god, you're 40 and you said this is what 40 looks like, which is a very empowering thing to say and
you've been saying that every decade, which is great.
We should own the road we've traveled.
But what is it, do you think, despite all the progress that you and we have made, that has not yet reached a tipping point, final momentum point,
so that there is parity and there is gender justice, which is global justice, despite the fact that it would make, if all other arguments
failed, economic sense?
STEINEM: It wouldn't make economic sense to the people who are profiting from women being underpaid.
AMANPOUR: But to GDP, it does.
STEINEM: Yes. But that doesn't count caregiving, it doesn't -- you know.
But the fundamental problem is that the gendered nature of violence is continuing and accelerating and right now there are fewer female human
beings on Earth than there are male human beings because of all these forms of violence, including domestic violence in this country, combined.
And we are not paying attention to that. And we are not using it as an indicator in our foreign policy.
AMANPOUR: One last question.
Where does the road lead you next?
STEINEM: Well, I get to go to other countries now with the book. It's sort of like --
STEINEM: -- the book has come to life over again, so I get to go to Australia, New Zealand and also, importantly, to Africa, where Dr. Mcquage
(ph) in the Congo, is, I think, to violence against females what Mandela was to apartheid, a great hope in the world.
AMANPOUR: What a great way to end.
Gloria Steinem, thank you so much.
STEINEM: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): And after a break, another life spent fighting for justice. We imagine a world where the horrors of abuse are overcome by
the power of music. How British pianist James Rhodes used it to overcome the pain of his youth. That's next.
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, as we focus on the world we live in, too often haunted by horrifying abuse, we imagine a world where the gift of
music can heal childhood trauma.
When he was a child, the renowned English concert pianist, James Rhodes, was repeatedly abused over many years by one of his school
teachers, leaving physical and emotional scars that he recounted in his memoir, "Instrumental." It was released this year.
It's a book that took 14 months of legal battles to publish after his ex-wife argued that it would adversely affect their young son. Now he
wants to change the very way we talk about abuse.
JAMES RHODES, PIANIST (voice-over): For me, the best concerts are the ones where I'm -- I come out and I'm feeling quite nervous and I sit at the
piano and I close my eyes. And then 30 seconds later, it's all over. I just disappear. Time disappears. All the worries and the noise and the
voices and the madness, it just goes away.
You and I are instantly connected through music. It is medicine for the soul. There are 88 keys on a piano and, within that, an entire
It's a book about music primarily. It's a love letter to my son, to my wife, Patty (ph), and, because it's a memoir, it's also -- it covers
certain things that happened when I were a kid and it talks about child rape and mental illness.
I feel like I have a duty to say, "This happened to me, but I came out the other side and this is how."
RHODES: They'll have got to the stage where one of the hospitals I was in, nothing was allowed. I tried to get certain quite unhealthy things
smuggled in, like razor blades, knives or whatever, and they were intercepted and it was decided, like, you know, I wasn't to be trusted with
And but an old friend of mine came to visit and he smuggled in a little iPod Nano. And I'd put it on under the covers and listen to this
piece of Bach. It's called the Bach "Marcello Adagio," it's played by Glenn Gould, who is this rock star pianist. But I thought I knew
everything he'd recorded. And I hadn't heard this piece before.
RHODES: And it absolutely just knocked me to the floor in the best possible way.
RHODES: I just thought, this is it. While something this good can exist in the world, I can't make my peace with taking my own life. It was
that simple. And that was enough for me to start to get well and get out of hospital and pursue what I really wanted to do with my life.
RHODES: Where else in this day and age can you go to a concert and switch off and close your eyes and you have an hour or two hours where
you're not bombarded with tweets or commercials or mindless TV, where you can just switch off and escape into this extraordinary music?
RHODES: The thing about rape, whether it's child rape or whatever age you're at, is it thrives in secrecy and shame. I mean, those are the two
most powerful weapons that rapists and abusers have. If you talk about this, you can't imagine the hell that will be unleashed on you.
And it worked for a long time. I didn't talk about it. The abuse doesn't stop when he stops raping you. It carries on for decades. And it
has ripple effects that destroy families and marriages and you can't imagine the legacy.
And I think why should I not write that down?
So we've got to talk. It's not easy but we've got to because, if we don't, then the guy who did this to me when I was a kid, he wins. And I'm
not comfortable living in a world where that happens.
AMANPOUR: And that is it for our program tonight. Remember, you can now always listen to our show as a podcast, see us online at amanpour.com
and follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.