by Shelt Garner
Oh boy. Where to begin with this one. This is such a difficult, problematic thing to address, that I probably should just say nothing at all. And, yet, I can’t help myself. I have to get some things off my chest.
I’m reading a biography of John Lennon and being reminded of how difficult and problematic he was in life has been a real eye-opener. The difference between how fondly he is remembered by our collective memories and what an asshole he could be in his private life is quite jarring.
As such, when Gen Z discovers things like how Lennon sang a song — that should not have been produced called “Woman is (blank) of The World” that are aghast. And, in all honesty, I don’t blame them. I can’t defend the song and that’s pretty much that.
But my quibble with the outrage on Tik-Tik by Gen Z is more a generational one. It reminds me of how young people seem to think they have everything figured out and they make superficial, knee-jerk pronouncements with total disregard to the deeper context.
While I freely admit and acknowledge that the song is indefensible, it was *meant* to be a radical feminist statement on Lennon’s part, rather than a racist one. In fact, according to the biography, John and Yoko appeared in African American publicans like Jet at the time of the song’s release.
I think I must be showing my age. Any honest reflection on Lennon’s legacy requires a willingness to see the man who he really was, warts and all. And it also requires an understand of nuance and context, something that modern cultural discourse is totally devoid of.
I have even pondered if maybe I’m falling into Trump-like cult of personality by even quibbling with the effort to “cancel” Lennon on Tik-Tok. I’ve come to believe this is not the case. Lennon is long dead and he’s not running for president. He was human and not some sort of musical demigod that was above screwing up and making — a lot — of mistakes.
Anyway. I just had to get that out of my system.