Tuesday, June 7, 2011

johnny thunders died for your sins!

"there is, too, a connection between the era bret easton ellis attempts to satirize in [1991's american psycho], the greed-is-good '80s, and the time of [john] lennon's murder, one month after the election of ronald reagan, the man who would make that era possible. in lennon's rolling stone obituary, greil marcus was the first person to note that 'nothing like lennon's killing has happened before.' while marcus was careful to say that reagan's election did not inspire mark david chapman--any more than [j.d.] salinger did--he did note the confluence of chapman's actiions with the 'secret message' of reagan's election: 'some people belong in this country, and some people don't; that some people are worthy, and some are worthless; that certain opinions are sanctified, and some are evil.' he went on, 'such a message, which tells people they are innocent and others are to blame, can attach a private madness to its public justification.'

"in 1980 john lennon was far from the canonized figure he has become. the people who grew up with the beatles had not yet moved into controlling positions in the media. in his time cover story, jay cocks was talking about himself and his contemporaries when he wrote that some people 'wondered what all the fuss was about and could not quite understand why some of the junior staff at the office would suddenly break into tears in the middle of the day.' it's easy to dismiss cock's piece for its openness of feeling. for all the things that cocks had to do, and did exquisitely, in that piece--it was a news story, an obituary, a career restrospective--what still comes through strongest is shellshock, his disbelief that he is writing the story. which is why it was a risk, and essential, for him to insist that the shooting was an assassination. putting lennon's killing in the company of the killings that had preceded it in the previous decades is not, though, a contradiction of marcus's claim that this had never happened before. it had--but not to a popular artist. what both cocks and marcus understood was that lennon's murder was a symbolic murder of what he represented. chapman was disturbed by the denunciations that ended [lennon's song] 'god,' lennon's brutal elaboration of [bob] dylan's line 'don't follow leaders.' but the beatles, for all the adoration they inspired, stood for a vision in which people, as marcus wrote, did not lose their identity but found it.

"a vision that tells you it's possible to live a good life and to live it your own way holds out possibilities that other visions--reagan's or salinger's--deny. those visions judge who belongs and who doesn't, who shuns contact with the wrong kind of people, chooses to withdraw from or tries to control the world rather than embrace it."

No comments:

Post a Comment