May 07, 2018
Enduring fame has a way of blinding us well before we even think to turn a blind eye. It's received wisdom.
In celebrities, that hagiography privileges complexity. Mystique is actively enhanced by troubling biographical details we would never excuse in a suspect whose mugshot pops up on the 11 o'clock news.
Beatles legend John Lennon's history of violence against women — and against his own son, Julian — isn't mere speculation about the checkered past of a revolutionary force in modern music. They're facts that Lennon and those close to him spoke candidly about during his own lifetime.
In 1980, the same year Lennon was assassinated, the world-renowned pacifist told Playboy he was brutal with his first wife, Cynthia Powell.
All that "I used to be cruel to my woman, I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved" was me. I used to be cruel to my woman, and physically – any woman. I was a hitter. I couldn't express myself and I hit. I fought men and I hit women. That is why I am always on about peace, you see. It is the most violent people who go for love and peace. Everything's the opposite. But I sincerely believe in love and peace. I am not violent man who has learned not to be violent and regrets his violence. I will have to be a lot older before I can face in public how I treated women as a youngster.
Dead at 40 years old, Lennon never got that chance. He may have lived to see the emergence of the #MeToo movement, but it's clear that far lesser musical talents — people like Chris Brown — struggle to rebound from their public image as abusers in this day and age. In another time, Lennon may not have been hailed as the hero he's become in popular culture.
On a lazy Sunday with no football to play, Eagles defensive end Chris Long fielded a prompt on Twitter from @OhEmGee: "Quote this with a controversial yet unproblematic opinion you have."
That sounds right up Long's alley. Regardless of what Eagles fans and other sports junkies think, Long refuses to abdicate the platform his position has given him in the larger cultural conversation.
JOHN LENNON WAS A BAD GUY AND IF THIS MAKES YOU MAD UNFOLLOW ME— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) May 7, 2018
Is this controversial and unproblematic? Does it infuriate people despite its merits? Based on the reactions, yes.
Lol my mentions cooked overnight and they are humorous— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) May 7, 2018
Let's take a look.
People aren't just good or bad.— Mr. Tranquilize (@StankyLegMcgee) May 7, 2018
May have had his faults outside of music...but Don’t take away from the good/genius that came from his messaging/music...especially his constant “controversial” call for peace— Ryan McBride (@Ryan___McBride) May 7, 2018
So basically he was a bad guy that did good things? Thanks for clarifying.— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) May 7, 2018
Based on replies this doesn’t seem to be too controversial.— Best There Never Was (@RoyHobbsBullet) May 7, 2018
He was a flawed person, but a bad guy?? He had issues, was raised by his aunt cuz parents basically didn’t want to raise him from get go. He wasn’t a violent criminal or anything. Produced more good than bad if ask me
Less “bad guy.” More that he wasn’t nearly the saint and hero he is portrayed as by some. He had a brutal childhood and was basically abandoned by his parents. That said, he and the rest of the Beatles changed the world.— Rishi Gill (@rishgill) May 7, 2018
I expect more out of you. Lennon certainly was once a “ bad guy”. Yes. But like all humans, he experienced growth and changed as he got older. He spoke out against his previous bad ways prior to his murder.— Mick Dreadnought (@PelicansSuperBo) May 7, 2018
Besides making positive music that has inspired and made billions of people happy he was also a huge factor in stopping the Vietnam war. His massive protest ended up costing him his US citizenship.— James Delgado (@JimiTheDevil) May 7, 2018
John Lennon was a genius with flaws who wrote, sang and played songs that will live for eternity... you knock people down for a living...— Keith England (@keithengland) May 7, 2018
Male people who wear protective gear and get hazard level pay to intentionally knock into eachother in an agreed upon fashion with rules meant to further limit injuries.— Amber Shelton (@perfectkismet) May 7, 2018
Not, yanno, female and children type people you are supposed to love and protect.
Cool comparison, though.
For some reason people want to ignore the fact that there are people like Lennon who made beautiful art that were also a terrible person.— Che the Bearded (@Che_the_Bearded) May 7, 2018
Selective. Just acknowledge, separate the two and keep it moving.— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) May 7, 2018
Long, for what it's worth, said it's easier for him to look at Lennon objectively because he's not much of a Beatles fan. It may be simplistic to reduce Lennon to a "bad guy," but sometimes the further removed we become from history, the less of a challenge it is to dissect influential figures from a neutral perspective.