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Illustration for article titled Penabler Reviews John Lennon: Love is All You Need

Growing up, the music of the Beatles was ubiquitous. You didn't love it or hate it any more than you could love or hate trees, they were just there. That being said, I didn't know that much about the members of the Beatles. After watching John Lennon: Love is All You Need, I know a bit more, mostly that I hate John Lennon.

John Lennon: Love is All You Need is a documentary that follows from the musician's early music career to his death in 1980. Absent any actual music from the Beatles, we hear from a bunch of talking heads from Lennon's life about what an awesome guy he was, mixed with footage from different interviews of Lennon and his bandmates from the 60s and 70s. There would be a clip of someone saying something like, "John was really an innovator, an amazing artist." It would then cut to a clip of the Beatles in an interview where someone asks them how they came up with their name, and then Lennon farts in a microphone and the Beatles fall to the ground giggling and kicking their legs because they are so clever. That didn't literally happen, but that basically happened the whole movie. The documentary was incongruous in that sense, and by the end I didn't believe John Lennon was as special as the documentary believed him to be.


One of the main people featured was his ex-wife Cynthia Lennon, who they somehow managed to keep secret from the public for more than a year (can you imagine if Justin Bieber had a secret wife? Kid can't even get a prostitute without everyone hearing about it). She still speaks glowingly of Lennon even though he basically abandoned her and their son. When they show their son he appears to be a cowering shell of a man.

During the episode where Lennon said he was "bigger than Jesus," all the talking heads were explaining what they thought he meant like it was some sort of abstract painting they were interpreting in a positive light. John Lennon, on the other hand, issued the most petulant non-apology I've ever seen by saying he was upset that people were offended by what he said. Maybe America owes John Lennon an apology.

He was critical of the peace movement, saying "violence begets violence" about three times during the movie. Lennon thought that if students gathered and got beaten up by police they should know that's going to happen and find a new way to protest. His go to: lounging around in bed for weeks at a time with Yoko Ono. I do that every weekend and let me tell you, shit doesn't get done.

The whole time I was getting such a weird vibe from him, beyond the general impression that he is an asshole. He would talk over Yoko Ono and act surprised that artistic ideas would come from a woman. I was a little afraid to google it, but I looked up "John Lennon domestic violence" and uh oh, turns out he has an extensive history of abusing women. Yoko didn't break the rule of "no girlfriends at band practice," Lennon forced her to be with him always because he was afraid she would leave him. None of this was addressed by the movie, and the way they dance around it made the absence glaring.


If I use the Netflix rating scale I give this documentary two stars, for not having Beatles music and failing to show John Lennon as anything other than an irredeemable and insufferable shithead. If I use my own Beatles related rating scale, this movie gets one Ringo. Bah.

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