Friday, December 09, 2005
Sorry, I Just Don't Get It
No, I don't remember where I was when John Lennon died. But I do remember one incident that took place shortly afterward. I went to visit a friend, and found him sitting in his living room with several other guys listening to the radio which was playing beatles tunes back to back. Nobody spoke, they just sat there glumly. I said, "What's the big deal? He was just a rock star."
Remember that scene in "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" when the pod people realize that Kevin McCarthy is not one of them. Their heads swivel as one toward him, eyes filled with hate, before they start pointing and screeching. Well, it was like that. I realized that I had made some irredeemable faux pas. I made some excuse and left. Their stares followed me out the door.
Things were never quite the same with them after that. A conceptual and cultural chasm had gaped wide, never to be closed. Lennon was vitally important to them, for reasons I could never fathom. There was some strange complex of ideas and symbols in their lives and minds I could not penetrate. To me John Lennon was just another rocker and his passing was a matter of little consequence. To them, it was the end of an era.
Now, twenty-five years later the anniversary of Lennon's death has been observed with wall to wall media coverage. Apparently he still means something to enough people to merit the extravagant grief on display, but I have to admit that I still don't get it. After all, it's not like he was Mel Torme or someone like that.
I suppose I could take this opportunity to say something about generation gaps, or the impact of the media on boomer consciousness, or the iconography of an emergent consumer culture, but I won't because..., well..., I just don't get it, just as I will never "get" the whole Princess Di thing.