Monday, October 16, 2006

The U.S. vs. John Lennon: Grade B

Glossier version of VH1's Behind the Music

It's not surprising that VH1 Rock Docs was one of the production companies behind this documentary. The U.S. vs. John Lennon reminded me of an episode of VH1's Behind the Music -- and I don't mean that in a bad way. I liked VH1's Behind the Music series and I like the similar approach this film takes. The documentary traces John Lennon's evolution from rock star to activist to family man.

It's tempting to criticize Yoko Ono's interviews as self-serving. However, I can't imagine a widow doing anything different than protecting and promoting her late-husband's vision. The filmmakers go out of their way to back-up Lennon's story with numerous interviews. Amazingly, G. Gordon Liddy and former FBI agents also contributed to the film and admitted to the Nixon administration's fear of Lennon's influence.

What was new and interesting, to me at least, was John Lennon's own awareness of his media influence. The clips of his news conferences and interviews in the documentary showed how media savvy he was and well he handled the media. I can't think of any contemporaries today who can work the media as well as Lennon did.

The only glaring omission was any mention or involvement of the other members of The Beatles. While it's true that most of the film takes place after The Beatles break-up, it seems odd to include interviews and archival footage of nearly everyone except the members of his band. It would have been interesting to hear what his fellow band members thought of his activism.

For all the reminiscing about the Vietnam anti-war protests, I can't help but wonder about its complete failure. The Vietnam and Iraq anti-war protests have not disuaded military action and, in fact, pro-war presidents have been re-elected during both unpopular and unjust conflicts.

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