Oh Yoko

This morning, Biffle and I finally watched The U.S. vs. John Lennon, a movie that's been sitting on top of our DVD player for weeks. Except for the last five minutes, in which the filmmakers seemed not to know what to do with Lennon's death, it was excellent--it was fascinating to see John Lennon trying to figure out how to do something meaningful with his enormous fame.

But the thing that really struck me about the film was how important Yoko Ono was to John Lennon's life. I was well enculturated by high school boyfriends and boy friends to see her as the bitch who broke up the Beatles. What the film shows is that he was a scruffy rebel with a bad attitude before he met her, but after, he became an activist artist, someone with a vision and a mission, someone so important culturally that his murder is often referred to as an assassination.

I got to experience some of Ono's art a few years ago when Biffle and I saw a retrospective of her work at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and I loved it. It's old news in feminist circles that Yoko was vilified for racist and sexist reasons, that she was a brilliant conceptual artist in her own right before she ever met John, but I don't know that we've pushed this insight far enough--or loudly enough. The thing is, Yoko Ono--arguably the most hated woman in 20th century America--was probably the brains behind John Lennon's activism.

And I think it's well past time for a feminist biography of Yoko Ono to be written. Is anybody working on this? Hello? Anybody? I don't think I'm the right person to take this on, but I'll do it if nobody else is.


Maig said...

Word! Yoko Ono is bad ass.

There is YES Yoko Ono by Yoko Ono (and others)

and Woman: the incredible life of Yoko Ono by Alan Clayson

I don't know that either of then are feminist per se but they are out there and I haven't read them.

jaz said...

Yoko is not one for easy categorization, which bothers those who prefer the Cliffs Notes version of life.

Besides, Paul is the one who sued to break up the band.

quiche said...

She was a distinguished artist before John met her, and if I am not mistaken, John met her at an opening of her work. I've never bought into the argument that she broke up the Beatles either, which is about as ridiculous as blaming Eve for Adam's sin! They are not saying much of John Lennon by that argument. The breakup was inevitable since they were moving in different creative directions. Yoko was a soul mate and muse who brought out the best in John, far from detracting. Good article!

The Mom said...

There was a good article in the Herald Citizen about Yoko Ono's new light sculpture in Iceland either the day you wrote this or the day before. I can't find a link to it, but this is about the same thing: http://www.ohio.com/lifestyle/10098521.html

Curtis said...

You know, it was those same boyfriends and boy friends of yours that inspired me to look into Yoko (out of spite, I guess), and discover what a truly amazing person and artist she is. I think she's one of the most brilliant, underrated artists of the 20th Century. I even like her music!

You made me think about one of my favorite bumper stickers (after this post and the one about bumper stickers earlier): "Think about honking if you love conceptual art."