Real or fake?

Michael Gerber
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I‘ve been wrong before, but the man doesn’t look like Lennon to me, I’ve never seen any other shots from this shoot, there are no historical markers to check, and the woman’s hair seems to hide her face rather too conveniently. Is this really a shot of John kneeling before Yoko? What say you, commentariat?

john kneeling before yoko

“I’m not worthy!”

But then again, I’m a big believer in the awesome power of Photoshop…

Life After Death for Beginners and Obama

You call it harassment, I call it guerilla marketing.

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  1. Avatar Michael wrote:

    Come to think of it, his hands do look like Lennon’s. And his coloring, too…I’m flummoxed.

  2. Avatar Cara wrote:

    Looks pretty legit to me. According to this person, it was taken that horrible day after Nixon’s re-election in 1972. We all know the story of what John had allegedly done the evening before, so he was apparently begging Yoko’s forgiveness. (?)[email protected]/4354200556/in/photostream/

  3. Avatar Nancy wrote:

    If it’s legitimate, this picture falls for me into the cringe-inducing category of occasions on which John publicly abases himself before Yoko, in songs and photos. The combination of oversharing and the lack of apparent reciprocity (dearth of photos or songs in which Yoko adopts this level of submission toward John) puts me off. If they intended this kind of thing as a feminist statement — and based on interviews, they may have — I don’t think it works.

    By the way, Mike, I finished “Life After Death for Beginners” and enjoyed it very much. The conversations between characters were the best part, especially those between the former Ravins. I’d read another whole book of the four of them talking together!

  4. I think this is a genuine picture. (But then Mike tends to take a harder line than do I on these things: vide our discussion of the real-or-fake “Revolution 1” outtake.) It does look like John to me (and think of all the known-to-be genuine photos that look even LESS like him), and it is perfectly in line with the dual public image they cultivated. Except for John’s clothing, there is really nothing here that isn’t memorialized in the Annie Leibovitz “Rolling Stone” cover 6-7 years hence.

    And I agree with Nancy that John’s self-abasement before “Mother” is off-putting. I might substitute the word “excruciating.” Nothing in my “Handbook of Liberated Modern Maleness” (5th rev. ed.) says you have to avow your own worthlessness to bolster feminist principles.

  5. Avatar Michael wrote:

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  6. Avatar Michael wrote:

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  7. Avatar Michael wrote:

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  8. Avatar Michael wrote:

    (Breaking this comment into two, because it’s too large.)

    Cara, you convinced me. I think it’s real.

    Nancy, SO GLAD you enjoyed the book! Shout it from the rooftops–I’ve got another one brewing. At this early stage, I think a big portion will take place in the 60s (a lot of people really liked The Ravins bits). Now it totally depends on whether Book One makes enough to pay for Book Two’s writing time. So please spread the word.

  9. Avatar Michael wrote:

    Nancy and Devin, I’m with you. J&Y used “feminism” to defend behavior they knew was immature and compulsive. Would people respect and admire Yoko for publicly kneeling in front of John? What J&Y call “feminism” is just a different kind of sexism, and my feminist mamma taught me that sexism is bullshit.

    Only two people know the true story of any relationship, and I suspect that the real “ballad of John and Yoko” was much more complex than the made-for-media version. Try this “Double Fantasy” on for size:

    “I know I hurt you then
    But hell, that was way back when
    Well, do you still have to carry that cross?”

    “Now you’re giving me your window smile
    I’m moving on, moving on
    It’s getting phony.”

    But if J&Y’s relationship truly was anything like this photograph or Leibovitz’s, it didn’t transcend gender and power, it was obsessed with it. It’s a 12-year-old petulantly defying his overstrict Auntie, than feeling guilty and groveling. And it’s another 12-year-old begging for food and mourning her lost wealth and status, determined to get it back by showing everybody that this important man kowtows to her.

    Lennon’s bio we all know, but Ono’s story–such as anybody has dug it out–is equally interesting, and equally revealing. Whenever one sees somebody working out their core traumas in public, the only appropriate reaction is compassion. Life is difficult, and everybody deserves Peace.

  10. Avatar Eric Reynolds wrote:

    I definitely think it looks legit and don’t see any reason to think there’s anything photoshopping going on.

  11. Avatar Cara wrote:

    Whenever one sees somebody working out their core traumas in public, the only appropriate reaction is compassion.

    Well said!

    I, for one, always admired their bravery for doing such things publicly. John was a genuinely passionate person, and he couldn’t help but express it. Who else had the chutzpah that these two showed?

  12. Avatar Cara wrote:

    I knew I had seen that photo before… and even though you’re already convinced, I have some more evidence for you. In his interview for the LENNONYC podcasts, Bob Gruen confirms that he took the picture after that dark November night, and that John was indeed begging Yoko’s forgiveness. Must be in his book?

  13. Avatar Lor wrote:

    Of course it’s legit. I’ve seen loads of photos from this day. It’s the day after the “Nixon incident” – which according to legend, instigated the “Lost Weekend” episode.

  14. Avatar Anonymous wrote:

    Similar shot,same place,clothes etc on reverse of Approvimatley Infinite Universe too.
    Shows that it didnt sell well or is not seen often!!


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