Christmas Holiday Wish
Right wing culture critic Michael Medved talked about John Lennon on MSNBC earlier today (this being the 25th anniversary of Lennon's murder), and while he conceded that Lennon was a "musical genius," Medved bemoaned the ex-late-Beatle's lifestyle and the toxic effect it had on "tens of millions" of young people who tried, and perhaps even liked, marijuana. Also, according to Medved, Lennon's opposition to the Vietnam war not only did not stop the bloodshed, it made middle America even more pro-war as they watched long-haired weirdos like Lennon stage bed-ins and other off-putting stunts. (Medved didn't mention that Lennon and Yoko Ono were favored guests on "The Mike Douglas Show," one of middle America's most popular afternoon programs.) So, while a great musician, John Lennon's legacy is, if Medved is to be believed, very mixed if not downright negative.
What a great gig Medved has. In fact, this coming year, I wanna be like Medved -- to appear on cable chat shows and discuss, debate and/or disparage varied cultural matters and those who find them important or dangerous to the public. You don't see many lefty pop cult critics on these shows, and the ones who do appear, like The Nation's John Nichols, who went against Medved today, are usually very solemn and fairly dull, however strong their arguments. You gotta light it up in the brief time they give you. Now, if I were in Nichols's chair, that segment would've gone something like this:
MEDVED: And whenever Lennon spoke out against the Vietnam war, middle America's support for the war shot up.
ME: How do you know that?
MEDVED: Excuse me?
ME: Are you citing any study or set of statistics?
MEDVED: Well, I ---
ME: Look, by the time of Lennon's bed-in in Montreal, not only was the American public largely fed up with the war, so was American big business. I mean, Wall Street turned against the war around 1968.
MEDVED: Hold on ---
ME: So it seems bizarre to claim that whenever John Lennon crawled into bed or took off his clothes, support for the war increased. I don't think he had that kind of hold on most Americans.
Hell, I'd even question Medved's claim that Lennon was a musical genius:
ME: Lennon was first-rate, no question, especially in collaboration with Paul McCartney and George Martin, who was the real conceptual weight behind the Beatles' studio sound.
MEDVED: But Dennis, don't you think ---
ME: But some of his solo stuff, while interesting, is pretty self-indulgent and hard to listen to these days. As much as I like Lennon, Ray Charles did more with music than did Lennon, or for that matter any of the Beatles after their break-up. Being popular and being a genius are two very different things.
Now wouldn't that make for better TV?