17 April 2008

Review: The US vs. John Lennon

So the BF and I decided to make Sunday night documentary night (again, I acknowledge that I am super late in blogging about this). This week's title: The US vs. John Lennon, a film about the treatment the coolest Beatle received at the hands of Nixon and him henchmen after he moved to NYC. I'll give you a hint: apparently Tricky Dick was a McCartney fan.

Although I've been interested in Lennon's life for a number of years (in another life, I am also an amateur music historian. Don't believe me? Let's go to the Rock Hall together), this film gave me a new appreciation for his protest art (the bed-ins for peace, press conference in a bag, etc. I still don't get the "Primal Screams" album).

The way I see it, Lennon was a PR genius. He knew the status of his celebrity around the globe- and he turned it into a medium for his protest art. For instance, let's take the bed in for peace. After Lennon and Ono got married, they knew that their chances for a normal honeymoon were slim; paparazzi all over the globe wanted a picture of the newlyweds in bed together. So they decided to give the media what they wanted; only they turned it into an anti-war protest. The whole thing was a beautifully executed, avant garde political masterpiece.

Anyways, his artsy stunts didn't sit so well with everyone; Nixon and his pals at the FBI actually considered Lennon the dissenter a threat to the nation. They tried to deport him on bogus charges (crooked cop busted him with weed in Englandseveral years previous), but really waned him out because he vocally disagreed with US foreign policy.

The treatment Lennon received at the hands of the US government was shameful. Definitely worth watching, even for those who aren't Beatles fans. More than anything, it's an interesting look at freedom of speech (or lack thereof) in America.

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