All You Need Is Love?

This is probably not a very popular thing to say, (on the anniversary of his death) while I see so many of his quotes go viral today, but we tend to forget about John Lennon the domestic abuser. It has been said, and Lennon even admitted to the fact that he hit both his first wife and Yoko Ono on many different occasions. He was not really that great of a father figure either. He was an absentee dad who mentally belittled his son, and well, beat the child’s mother.

“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.” ~ John Lennon

Are we generally not aware of the grossness of his past, or do we just not care?

We love to hate Chris Brown while we love to love John Lennon. Their images are very different. One was a white hippy who sang about love, the other is a black rapper who has been criticized of being misogynistic. Music styles and lyrics send different messages, but in reality, they are somewhat the same. Maybe John Lennon was even worse in that he was quite abusive, much more so than Chris Brown, as far as we know. I obviously have to point out the dichotomy here regarding race and preconceived notions. It surely seems very easy for us to demonize one man while we love another. If you hate one, then why not hate the other? Maybe it’s also the fact that we are such a media driven society now and we can see plain as day the bruised pictures of Rihanna’s beaten face; and as far as Lennon, we choose not to think about what isn’t right in front of us. Though of course John Lennon and the Beatles were highly documented by photographs, but I don’t know of any pictures that display signs of abuse on either of his wives.

If we want to enjoy good music and separate talent (because I do think both men undoubtedly had or have talent) and personal behaviors, fine. I can nod my head to either musician’s work, while their personal behaviors sicken me. It does bother me though to see all the Lennon quotes today about peace and love. While they all seem good in theory, they do strike me as being rather hypocritical coming from the mouth of an abusive man. He’s definitely no role model and I can’t help but think “abuser abuser abuser,” whenever I see the happy frappy lovey memes plastered all over the internet today.

What do you think? Separate the musician and the music, or do we need to tread carefully as to who we idolize?

john lennon


5 responses to “All You Need Is Love?

  1. The difference between Lennon and Brown (other than race, music style, etc) is that Lennon appears to be repentant. Brown doesn’t. Lennon in that seems to me ashamed of his violent past, and while that doesn’t excuse it or absolve him of his past crimes, it does show that he’s aware that hitting is NOT ok. Brown just lashes out at anyone and seems to revel in his bad boy image.

  2. You both make good points. Unhipnic is on the mark that Lennon seemed repentant or at least knew that his past behavior was not right, and even more so, it was not the man he wanted to be so he sought change and advocated a better path for us all. What is the saying, “There is no zealot as great as the converted.” Brown probably maintains his image because of the expectation within that music genre and in an attempt to maintain his market relevance, but also perhaps because he has not evolved yet to better understanding as a man. It took John quite a few years to do so (apparently).
    The other interesting element from a social and cultural perspective is that there seemed to actually be more acceptance of ‘hitting your woman’ back in the 40s, 50s, and 60s than there is today. I know that many of my older aunts, great aunts, and other family friends that had this occur to them. The general feeling was, “That is just the way it was back then, but we didn’t really talk about it.” I also know that there was perception of what I would call an “acceptable threshold” of “keeping your wife in line”. Once that was crossed, then the uncles or other men would address it directly with the offending man. I am obviously not condoning any of this behavior and have never hit my woman/wife/girlfriend, but offer this social perspective as well as one of the differences in the times when these men evolved.

  3. If there is repentance, then at least we can see that the abuser recognizes that his behavior is wrong. When there is none, then … wow. The behavior certainly has a tendency to persist out of denial. In either case it’s wrong, though. As one who was abused verbally & mentally, I cannot condone such activity. And it makes me not want to support their talents or well, whatever.

  4. I did not know this about John Lennon probably because he seemed to have a calm and loving persona and i guess had repented or maybe it was the pot he and Yoko were always smoking.
    Hitting or verbally abusing any human being whether man or woman should never been accepted even in the 50`s and 60`s and a woman`s status in those days was menial at best.. Other`s like Bobby Brown show no remorse and what is even worse the women go back for more,as did Whitney and Rihanna I can not even begin to explain that mentality.

  5. “Hitting or verbally abusing any human being whether man or woman should never been accepted even in the 50`s and 60`s and a woman`s status …”

    Of course we can all agree that physical abusing another is totally unacceptable, but the point is there WAS a degree of social acceptance to it back in those times, or at least a “don’t ask, don’t tell” mentality. Not recognizing that situation in the discussion is, from my view, leaving out a key piece of perspective or flat out idealistic, revisionist history. The times ain’t always been as they are, and that is not necessarily for the worse.

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