I hope you won’t think of me of rude, but to me Lennon has always been a snake; he would never say the same thing and would often trash people and I hate it. He would openly make fun of poor Brian for being Jew and homosexual; he said nasty things during the screening of the movie Victim, a gay movie; he would call people ” faggot ” and other nasty names yet tries to cover it up by saying that ” gays are beautiful “…. Let’s not forget it please!Our Tumblr Asks
Hello listener, thanks for writing in. We’re going to assume you are not a troll, and are voicing some real concerns.
First of all, it’s obviously your prerogative to dislike John. Fandom is always 100% voluntary. Second, if certain behaviors are deal-breakers for you as a fan, that is also completely OK and I would never argue that you MUST forgive anyone. You can draw the line at whatever you want for any reason and never let anyone tell you otherwise.
Having said that, if you would like to love John and are having a hard time reconciling some of his past behavior, we’re happy to offer a few counterpoints.
To start, and this is less a defense of John’s behavior and more of a different perspective: all the Beatles have said and done stupid things and used inappropriate language in their lifetimes and if you really wanted to you could find problematic and cringeworthy comments/actions from all of them. The Beatles were born in 1940’s Liverpool, in an atmosphere of normalized racism, homophobia and misogyny. Unfortunately John died a full 40 years ago, when culture was very, very different and his legacy therefore includes some things that from a distance could appear shocking. Part of the reason why Paul’s or Ringo’s missteps, for example, are less bothersome is because they have lived long enough to grow, evolve, acknowledge and even apologize for some of their entitled attitudes and language. We absolutely believe if John were alive today, he would do the same. As a matter of fact, John actually did apologize for some of his language, behavior and old fashioned attitudes in the 70s. This is not to say he was perfect by 1980, or ever. He was a work in progress, just as we ALL are. Considering the world they were born into, the Beatles did a pretty good job of being decent people. Not a perfect job, but a pretty good one and we believe that all four were/are genuinely egalitarian at heart and all of them strived to be good people (to varying degrees of success).
This is a different argument from “Well, it was a different time so it was OK back then.” The point is not that racism, homophobia, sexism, ableism, anti-semitism, etc is or ever was OK. The point is that awareness was different at various times in history and context is an important factor. Likewise, the fact that John was suffering from internalized homophobia doesn’t make his homophobic comments “OK,” but it does help contextualize them. And to his credit, he did a lot of self-examination on the subject and tried to make up for it later.
In general, we believe John wanted to improve and strived to become a better person. Like all of us, he often failed. The difference is that John’s failures were big and public and unfortunately some of them had lasting damage on others, most specifically Paul, Cynthia, May and Julian.
The bigger issue for us is when die-hard John Lennon defenders (Jean Jackets, as we call them) refuse to examine or criticize John’s behavior. No one can seriously deny that John was a mixed bag; he undoubtedly had moments of greatness, but he also had moments of weakness and could behave in ways that displayed massive insecurity, cruelty and vindictiveness. The dark side of John was obsessive, jealous and petty and John’s behavior towards Paul post-breakup falls into this category. John said a lot of sweet, loving things about Paul over the years, but he said a lot of catty, childish and just plain nasty things too. To say these things to friends is one thing; to say them to newspapers where they will be printed and memorialized forever is either wildly irresponsible or downright malicious. We HATE that this behavior has been normalized (and even applauded!) over the years. It is only a garbage culture that values washing your dirty laundry in public over respecting your own family (yes, we consider the Beatles a family). So it troubles us when people fail to label John’s behavior towards Paul as such. It’s dishonest, deeply insensitive and massively insulting.
Still, we think it’s possible and permissible to love John despite his weaknesses. What’s not ok is to label his nastiness as being “cool” or “powerful” or “tough” and to champion this type of behavior. Venture outside of tumblr into the netherworld of Old School Beatles Fandom and you would be shocked how many people ADORE John the Bully. It’s truly depressing.
We at AKOM typically take up the mantle defending and advocating for Paul which, because Beatles fandom is so often divided into Lennon v. McCartney, can come across to some as being “anti-John.” But we are not at all “anti-John,” we are simply intolerant of the worst of John’s behavior. (Reasonably so, we believe) Furthermore, we see zealous John advocates everywhere – in nearly every Beatles book, on nearly every podcast and fansite. We definitely think he is sufficiently revered. On the other hand, we feel that Paul needs better advocates; people who can focus on him and his gifts and his strengths too.
Fortunately, we do feel like the culture is changing, and it is now much safer to discuss subjects like these frankly. Thank you for the ask and we hope we helped a bit.
We're a collective of artists, musicians, and professionals across a spectrum of fields who dissect and challenge established narratives about the band with irreverent, fearless, and thought-provoking analysis. We are on iTunes, Spotify, Podbean, and many other podcast platforms: tinyurl.com/akomonitunes tinyurl.com/akomonspotify anotherkindofmind.podbean.com - Website: anotherkindofmind.com - Facebook: @anotherkindofmindpod Twitter: @akompodcast Instagram: @anotherkindofmind Email: firstname.lastname@example.org