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Overall was John politically good or bad?
4 June 2013
9.45pm
Funny Paper
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Scoun said
What's this about John thinking he was Jesus?

I think that was a misinterpretation, twisting his infamous statement about the Beatles being "more famous than Jesus".

For the record, I don't think John was utterly bad politics-wise.  His lyric in Revolution 1 -- "If you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, you ain't gonna make it with anyone anyhow" -- particularly in the larger context of a wryly jaded skepticism about revolutionary sentiments, was refreshing.

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4 June 2013
11.24pm
Ron Nasty
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Funny Paper said

Scoun said
What's this about John thinking he was Jesus?

I think that was a misinterpretation, twisting his infamous statement about the Beatles being "more famous than Jesus".

No misinterpretation. Sometime in May 1968 (the 18th often crops up as a date) John called a meeting at Apple Corps with Paul, George, Ringo and Derek Taylor. He was extremely strung out on drugs at the time, but believed it was his duty to inform them - and the world - of a realisation he had had. "I have something very important to tell you all. I am Jesus Christ. I'm back again." He wanted Taylor to put out an official press release to that effect. Taylor, sensibly, after listening attentively ignored him - reasoning that once the drugs had worn off John would go back to being John.

Many people involved have commented on the event, and I have seen references to John later dismissing it as the drugs talking. I find it sad that GniknuS chose to present it as if it was the belief of a reasonable and rational man in a good place in his life, rather than of a John who was going through a crisis at the time - and was probably at the beginning of his cocaine period. If the date of the meeting is accurate, then it's the result of a drug binge over his dying marriage in the days after his return from the America visit with Paul to announce Apple, and his getting together with Yoko on the 19th.

I respect GniknuS' recently discovered beliefs as being right for them, though I do find it rather sad the need was found to call John "sick" (and I don't think it was meant in the medical way) when addressing an event that so obviously happened during a personal crisis. It strikes me as odd how many Christians are prepared to cast (metaphorically) the first stone.

 

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4 June 2013
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Wow, mja, I never knew all that.  Couldn't it have been drugs, his crisis, and his attempt at a joke, all combined?

 

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4 June 2013
11.49pm
Ron Nasty
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Personally, I believe it was drug psychosis brought on by his over-indulgence as an attempt to deal with the pain he knew he was about cause many of those around him. I think it was a man who was about to go into total meltdown and, for whatever else she did, was pulled back from the brink by Yoko's acceptance of him.

"I only said we were bigger than Rod... and now there's all this!" Ron Nasty
5 June 2013
1.47am
Von Bontee
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Hey, welcome back Gniknus! (If you're still around...)

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7 June 2013
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meanmistermustard
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If the date of the Apple meeting where John declared he was Jesus was the 18th May then George and Ringo would have been out of the country having attended the Wonderwall premier in Cannes on the 17th returning to the UK on the 19th May.

 

Don’t make your love suffer insecurities, trade the baggage of self to set another one free. ('Paper Skin' - Kendall Payne)
7 June 2013
9.33pm
Ron Nasty
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meanmistermustard said
If the date of the Apple meeting where John declared he was Jesus was the 18th May then George and Ringo would have been out of the country having attended the Wonderwall premier in Cannes on the 17th returning to the UK on the 19th May.
 

That's why I put it as a date that is often mentioned. It is difficult to put an exact date on, given the events of May 1968. The only thing that can be said is that of those who have spoken of the incident, and date it, that's the month they date it to.

"I only said we were bigger than Rod... and now there's all this!" Ron Nasty
7 June 2013
11.42pm
meanmistermustard
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a-hard-days-night-ringo-8Yeah i saw that mja, thought that the date clashes should be mentioned so folks know the issue with the often said date of 18th May, as often listed in Beatle diaries - which you pointed out.

Don’t make your love suffer insecurities, trade the baggage of self to set another one free. ('Paper Skin' - Kendall Payne)
15 June 2013
9.06pm
Lennonista
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May I suggest that whether you find John politically “good” or “bad” really depends on your own personal politics? As a Liberal, I love John politically and think he was right on. But, frankly, I don’t think you can qualify him politically one way or the other because it’s so subjective.

May I also suggest that most people look at John’s politics in the wrong way? Those who say he was naive or duped or ineffective or hypocritical really miss the point, in my opinion. John’s involvement in the political arena was more of an ARTISTIC endeavor than a political one. And if we judge him by that measure, then I would argue once again that he was politically good because he will forever be linked to the Peace movement, his spotlight helped advance the cause of women’s rights, and the song Imagine is a resplendent and enduring piece of work.

The film The U.S. vs. John Lennon does an excellent job of illustrating the political environment of the early '70s, especially here in the United States. The entire culture was consumed with politics—it was impossible to avoid. I was a little kid in 1972, but I clearly remember the spirit of the times because it was so overwhelming. John’s role was to represent those passions. He was an artist, not an actual politician or activist. Yes, he did take a side and he did help promote their causes—not as a propagandist, but as an artist. As a former Beatle, the whole world was his canvas, and the Bed-Ins, the benefits, the photo ops, etc. were all his “paintings.”

John once said, "The artist's role isn't to tell us how or what to feel. The artist's role is to reflect how and what we feel." By that measure, he was wildly successful politically.

Peace. 

16 June 2013
10.36am
fabfouremily
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I think the title for this thread should have been worded in another way.

I understand what you're saying, if you have political views that are completely different to John's, then of course you're going to say ''bad''. I understood the question to be more ''was it real/did he really believe all what he said, or was he doing it for some other reason(s), whatever they may be''. ''Were his ideas good/clever/realistic?'' That's how I understood it, anyway.

''We're just knocked out. We heard about the sell out. You gotta get an album out, you owe it to the people. We're so happy we can hardly count.''

16 June 2013
1.17pm
beatallabout
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It was good because he was the first, and I mean the first major Pop star to get involved politically. Dylan, Joan Baez, Johnny Cash, James brown were there before him, but they were not mainstream worldwide mega stars. Others, like Bono, would follow.

It was bad because the people didn't follow. Thus, the late sixties and early seventies gave birth to new forms of violence (terrorism, dictators, drugs cartels...) that blossom to this day. Lennon spoke and sang, but didn't act on a long term period to be credible.

10 July 2013
4.26pm
Funny Paper
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I must amend my criticism of Lennon's politics, if Fred Seaman is correct:

http://swf.tubechop.com/tubech.....id=1312453

Plus see:

http://swf.tubechop.com/tubech.....id=1312466

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10 July 2013
4.53pm
mccartneyalarm
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Clearly he had some kind of impact politically if you consider that the FBI and Richard Nixon had files on him a mile thick. I do think that he might not have become so vocal about his politics had he not met Yoko. Had he stayed married to Cynthia, I don't think he would have been so vocal (can't see Cynthia doing a Bed-In!).

"And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make."

15 July 2013
10.58am
WhereArtEsteban
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It always kinda upsets me when people hate on "Imagine"- people usually go for the whole "John did this, had that" and he's a hypocrite or whatever but it's called "IMAGINE" you have to pretend like he's not the person he was to believe it! 

To me the songs just like a hint - it's all in your mind yall

a-hard-days-night-paul-10

"I wonder if you can" 
or have they got our brains too?      ya know

ergo I vote yes- John did wonders for politics it needed more rainbows less thundercunts.

"P. P. P. P. S- L. P. Winner."

12 February 2014
3.48am
tulane
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I think ExpertTexpert's analysis is excellent and very thoughtful.

In the day to day mundanity of modern life, one can tend to feel that change is impossible and that it is naive to ever hope for a better world, but when you look at things in the long run, significant progress has been achieved.  When my grandmother was born women were not allowed to vote and the poor were sent to the workhouse.  When my father was born there was no national health service and homosexuals were sent to prison.  In fact, doctors classified homosexuality as a mental illness until 1973.  When I was born there was totalitarianism in East Germany (the Berlin wall) and apartheid in South Africa.  In fact not only is change possible - it is inevitable.  The Roman Empire was so powerful for so long that people would have laughed at you if you said that it would collapse, but of course it did collapse.  The British Empire also collapsed, something that for a long time seemed impossible.  In my own lifetime, I have seen the USSR collapse, again something that seemed utterly impossible.  Change is the only constant - nothing lasts forever.

I don't go along with this idea that the artist should only deal with the world in abstract terms and not be political.

Byron and Shelley were extremely political.  Here's Shelley writing about the Peterloo massacre:

"Rise like Lions after slumber

In unvanquishable number,

Shake your chains to earth like dew

Which in sleep had fallen on you-

Ye are many — they are few"

Picasso's most famous painting was political - "Guernica" about the Spanish Civil War.

There is a school of thought that some of Shakespeare's work (most notably King Lear and Coriolanus) is socialist.

For sure, some political songs can be wearisome, but you can say that about songs in general.  From an aesthetic standpoint all that matters is whether a song is well written or badly written.  Some of the greatest songs ever written are political songs.  Woody Guthrie's "1913 massacre", Bob Dylan's "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll", Phil Ochs' "The Marines have landed in Santo Domingo".  These are songs that are incredibly moving and poetic.

The idea that the artist should just be abstract and keep his mouth shut about the issues of the day is essentially, if you think about it, anti democratic.  What it amounts to is "leave the way the world is run to the tiny elite of experts in political office and know your place and do what you are told."

Also, I believe artists can make a difference.  Songs like "Imagine" and "Blowin in the wind" are important because they inspire people to become better human beings.  Reminds people that yes, there is more to life than getting drunk, having sex and lining your pockets.  Makes you feel "I'm not alone - there are other people who care about the world".  You inspire others, they inspire others and so on... it's not an overnight thing but it makes a difference over time.

"Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."

Robert F. Kennedy

12 February 2014
4.52am
PeterWeatherby
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I'm allergic to politics, so honestly, when I hear clips of John getting political ("We need to turn people on to the fact that we are the government!") or songs of his that have a political bent, I cringe.

As for the song "Imagine," I offer this light-hearted riff. :)

"There was one line in it, which said 'imagine no possesions' ... and that's something I couldn't do, 'cause I've tried and I've tried, and I always end up thinking about drums." Too funny.

Not a bit like Cagney.
12 February 2014
7.41am
Necko
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^^^ Part of what makes that great is how closely they get the speaking voices of Ringo and John.  Ringo especially.

On topic, John Lennon was a musician and a celebrity who got into political activism.  Maybe he didn't know what he was doing all of the time, but nobody likes John Lennon purely for his political activism.  Most (pretty much all, if not all) people like his music first and then admire his political and peace activism.  Whether he was politically good or bad doesn't really matter that much, because, though some of the things he did were admirable, he was a musician, not a world leader.

I'm Necko.  I'm like Ringo except I wear necklaces.
12 February 2014
11.55am
4or5Magicians
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Thank you for that, PeterWeatherby. I ended up watching Peter Serafinowicz clips on youtube instead of studying for about an hour last night. ahdn_paul_02

 

As far as John's politics, good/bad. Meh. He spoke out for peace and love, and has become an icon of peace and love. I guess the lasting impression is what counts. His political ideas weren't all winners, though. But that's why nobody talks about them. The real issue, I think, is what he actually accomplished with his various politically inspired stunts. Certainly not as much as he hoped, as he said later in life.

12 February 2014
1.05pm
tulane
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Comments such as "I'm allergic to politics" are interesting, because that is a very common and very understandable reaction for people to have.  However, I believe that we need to make a distinction here.  When you say the word "politics" people think of what goes on in parliament.  It is understandable that people say they are allergic to politics if by politics we mean what goes on in parliament, because what goes on in parliament is mindnumbingly boring for the most part.

If you think about it, however, the great changes in history have come about outside of parliament.  Look at the civil rights movement.  Martin Luther King never held political office. Rosa Parks never held political office.  Look at the anti apartheid movement.  Desmond Tutu never held political office.  Stephen Biko never held political office.  Look at the women's rights movement.  Sylvia Pankhurst never held political office.

When veteran British MP Tony Benn said "I am retiring from parliament so that I can devote more time to politics" he was only half joking.

What goes on in parliament is boring and a turn off - totally agree.  However, something like the civil rights movement is fascinating and we have to look towards things like that to give us hope for the future and to remind us that a better world is possible.

Party politics is little more than small minded schoolboyish tribalism and members of parliament are, for the most part, driven by career ambition rather than by a desire to help others - they are usually out of touch with the average man in the street.    

People might say "Imagine" is crazy because it would never work, but is capitalism working?  Is spending billions on nuclear weapons whilst people in the third world are starving to death working?  Is having millions of people unemployed whilst everywhere is short-staffed working?

If no one had ever imagined a better world then we would all still be living in caves.

I often come across people who say they aren't interested in politics, but if you ask them whether they want good healthcare to be available they will say yes.  If you ask them if they want good schools with good facilities, they will say yes.  If you ask them whether they think women should be treated the same as men, they will say yes.  If you ask them whether they think black people should be treated the same as white people, they will say yes.  If you ask them whether they feel strongly that famine in the third world is wrong, they will say yes.  If you ask them whether they believe society should help the elderly and disabled, they will say yes.  Many people do not regard themselves as political but if you talk to them you discover that they are passionate in their beliefs about the way society should be run.

12 February 2014
3.17pm
derek
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I'm gonna read on through this alot more but i would like to pose one question about "Imagine" that i had for years: How can we imagine there's no heaven when that's exactly what you're describing?" that is the one question i would ask John.

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