Leftist commentary from a mouthy bitch
The Curvature, a stunning Feminist and HAES blog, just recently did a series on the Myth of Yoko Ono. http://thecurvature.com/2008/12/15/yoko-ono-a-feminist-analysis-introduction-oh-yoko/
I don’t want to rehash her points here, but the series is excellent, well-written, well-researched, and one of the most informative pieces I’ve ever read on the “Woman Who Destroyed the Beatles.”
See, that’s how I’ve always thought of her. My Dad’s a Beatles-Guy. Big time. Fell in love with their music when a German Foreign Exchange Student brought their albums over BEFORE they were officially played in the US. Yup, Jackson High School’s student radio station actually played the Beatles long before What’s His Butt who always gets the credit.
Anyway, Dad, HUGE Beatles fan. I could sing all of Abbey Road before I was five. When John Lennon was murdered, I was in third grade, and spent two days locked in my playroom with an 8-track player and my beloved copy of Abbey Road. That had to have been one of the weirdest absence-excuse notes in the history of the world: “Please excuse Polimicks from school the past two days, as she has been mourning a pop-culture icon.”
As my Dad was a HUGE Beatles fan, and more than a little problematic with the issues of misogyny (Oh, I could write volumes!), I grew up with the stereotypical “Woman Who Destroyed the Beatles,” Dragon-Lady, No-Talent Hack image of Yoko Ono. So, when I discovered her “Hell in Paradise” video in the 80s, I kind of felt guilty for liking it so much. I mean, she was the ENEMY! The death knell of the GREATEST BAND EVAR!!!!!! And here I was, digging on her music.
And I’m not alone. Generally speaking, the image of Yoko as Dragon Lady, controlling, abusive, gold-digger has held sway.
Except, as the Curvature found out, that if you really look at the facts, and don’t just listen to a bunch of people who, quite frankly lost a lot when the Beatles Gravy Train went tits up, the demonization of Yoko doesn’t stand up.
I could recount all of Curvature’s points, but really, just go read the article. It’s a brilliant series of articles, even though it kind of sucks, realizing that your childhood idols were kind of (ok, total) shitheads, womanizers, quite probably abusive, and in the case of John Lennon, definitely abusive. But the peace of mind granted by the Mythos does not justify the continued demonization of someone who was quite probably the best thing for John Lennon at that time in his life. She got him clean, she didn’t let him cheat on her, she made him recognize her as an equal, and she took care of him. The Beatles were, by all accounts, already falling apart under the crushing weight of their own egos, Paul had already ripped John off regarding the songs they co-wrote, George had slept with Ringo’s wife, and tempers were already frayed. Yoko probably just sped along a process that was well underway by, at best, a few more months.
So, sorry, Dad. I can’t hate her anymore. Actually, I kind of quit hating her in the 80s when I saw Hell in Paradise, because if she wasn’t the talentless hack everyone kept claiming, what else had they been wrong about as well?
This entry originally posted at http://polimicks.dreamwidth.org/
in addition to the more purely feminist issues, the term “Dragon Lady” itself points to another thread in Ono’s demonization, as that article (and John) rightly points out.
sometimes, i seem to be the only fan of the Beatles’ music that never disliked her at all. of course, i never knew anything about the behind-the-scenes antics of the band and their hangers-on, so i was never exposed to the more horrible slanders against her. all i had to go on was her actual work, which was clearly and dramatically better than the caricatures painted by her detractors.
Yeah, I enjoy her work. Ogre’s not a fan, but as he said this morning, as a music nerd, he knew that most of the stuff said about her was pure slander.
What a fantastic series of articles — many thanks for the pointer.
I know some people are going to hate me for saying this, but I always saw The Beatles as a kiddy band, and I’m glad that they broke up because Lennon’s work without them was so much better.
This isn’t to say they were awful, they had a lot of good tracks in their later years-in fact I’d like to eventually purchase some of their albums, but John Lennon’s work was so much more sophisticated if more emotionally mature than theirs. But I never understood fandom in general, so much of it is based on romanticized notions of what people mistakenly believe to be heroes.
Anyway, the trouble with fandom is that groupthink doesn’t equal earththink. Working with people for years in the same environment can take its toll, personality clashes are almost always inevitable. I think it’s a miracle they were around for that long in the first place. To blame an older Asian woman for it instead of really thinking about the reality and dynamics of prolonged human interactions with the same people over decades is incredibly silly and outright sad.
Have you seen the Buffy episode The Yoko Factor? Spike tries to push the core group apart, and seems to have succeeded. As he describes it:
It’s … call it the Yoko factor.
(off Adam’s blank stare)
Don’t tell me you never heard of
I have. I like Helter Skelter.
What a surprise. Point is, they
were once a real, powerful group.
Not a stretch to say they ruled
the world. And when they broke
up, everyone blamed Yoko. But the
fact is, the group split itself
apart. She just happened to be
Sometimes things are ready to happen.