John Lennon? Not Ringing a Bell... (video)

by Crispin Kott

4 March 2010

 

Maybe I’m showing my age here, but I can actually remember information gleaned more than five minutes ago. Sure, in an increasingly Twitterized world, if it didn’t just happen, maybe it never happened at all. But are there really people over two weeks old who don’t know who John Lennon is?

That’s apparently Sean Lennon’s fear. How do I know? Because the deceased former Beatle’s youngest son said exactly that on his official Twitter page. Or rather that’s what he tweeted. Twittered? Twaddled? Forgive me—I’m too consumed with moral Beatle outrage to keep up with the terminology.
  
Beatle fans are notoriously ill-tempered when the Fab Four’s music or likenesses are used to advertise products they conveniently forget they actually have in their closet, home office or garage. Anyone old enough to remember a certain massive sneaker company’s use of a certain vaguely anti-establishment Beatles’ single from 1968 will also recall the furor the combination caused, and how the ad was practically yanked from the airwaves before the logo finished coming into focus. And that was before the internet!

This isn’t 1964, for cryin’ out loud; Brian Epstein hasn’t just licensed Ringo’s face for rolls of single-ply toilet paper. You can’t put Paul’s adorable visage on a bottle of talcum powder and expect to get away with it, pal!

In 2008, John Lennon’s likeness appeared in an ad for the “One Laptop Per Child” campaign, which might have come off a little better had they chosen someone who sounded less like Ron Nasty of the Rutles and more like the Beatle himself.

And now it’s like Nike all over again, only this time the ad is for the Citroën DS3, a car which had the young version of Lennon been around to own one, he would have had it painted in such a way as to guarantee getting pulled over by the police on a regular basis. The voice track isn’t right this time around either, though maybe it’s really Lennon speaking, and they just did a lousy job of syncing it to the film. It’s clumsy, is what I’m getting at. And fans of the Beatles are probably thinking Lennon deserves more.

The response from angry Beatlemaniacs was obviously loud enough that Sean Lennon felt the need to respond in the most popular method of the day: Twitter.

On Tuesday, Lennon (the son) used three…tweets?...over 13 minutes to explain why his mother, Yoko Ono, had agreed to allow her dead husband’s image to be used in a car commercial.

She did not do it for money. Has to do w hoping to keep dad in public consciousness. No new LPs, so TV ad is exposure to young.
8:19 AM Mar 2nd

Look, TV ad was not for money. It’s just hard to find new ways to keep dad in the new world. Not many things as effective as TV. (Cont.)
8:29 AM Mar 2nd

Having just seen ad I realize why people are mad. But intention was not financial, was simply wanting to keep him out there in the world.
8:32 AM Mar 2nd

So, it wasn’t about money at all. It was about making sure that one of the world’s most famous people, one who months ago entered the homes of millions worldwide as part of the insanely publicized Beatles Rock Band game, remained famous. If that seems even remotely absurd, maybe that’s because that’s exactly what it is.

It’s up to Ono as Lennon’s widow to decide how to market her late husband’s image, whether it’s for money or social causes or just to remind people that he still matters. And I guess it’s up to Beatle fans to get over it.

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