John Lennon and … Meghan Markle?
Updated: Jul 12
Discussing Harry and Meghan (I know, lockdown causes much indefensible chatter:), a dear friend likened their relationship to that of another extremely controversial coupling of bygone years. Yoko Ono and John Lennon.
I have to admit I was taken aback. I actually feel quite differently about both relationships, though I have no business what so ever to have an opinion on either! On consideration, however, elements of their couplings and the disapproval they have provoked do have much in common: mixed race relationships, demonization of the female partner, concern for the male counterpart being torn from his ‘family’ ... to name just a few.
As I began to jot down the reasons I have always found the Lennon and Ono relationship interesting, I became aware that among my observations, some were interchangeable with the romance of Meghan and Harry.
Both John and Yoko were extremely creative and adventurous. They were both wishing to change the world positively. They found themselves at a point in history where exploration was a norm for their generation – the now cliched activities of (taking) drugs, (having) sex and (playing) rock and roll was their adventure playground. They were exotics and they were outsiders. Thus far, so not Harry and Meghan ... except for wanting to change the world.
So why did Ono and Lennon’s relationship cause so much controversy? I guess in 1966 mixed race relationships were still not quite accepted by the mainstream. Yoko was Japanese and England had been at war with Japan. Yoko was ambitious and popstars girlfriends were meant to be appendages. Yoko shook up the male bond of The Beatles and girlfriends were meant to fit in with what the boys were doing and not obstruct. Parallels between the famous relationships do become apparent now.
Sadly, I was born a bit to late to understand the impact and controversy that surrounded John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s relationship, first hand. My knowledge is from journals, magazines, books and conversations.
I saw Yoko Ono’s ‘War is Over if you Want’ in Sydney’s MCA, 2003 and loved it. I still have my tiny piece of jigsaw from her expansive blue sky as a memento.
Harry and Meghan? The world is not so innocent now as it was in the sixties and while we have seen many celebrities use their sway to further social issues, we are also aware that some have disingenuously used a façade of social concern to further their own careers. Social media and celebrity interviews also don’t have the raw (believable?) quality of over five decades ago, tinged now to a somewhat cynical modern audience by questions about the sincerity of those in the camera’s eye. As audience, we are more cynical of both the media and the celebrity and strong opinions fly openly and in a flash on social media, building a momentum hitherto unexperienced.
Decades separate when Harry met Meghan and when John met Yoko yet there are so many parallels, not the least that these famous couplings have captured and provoked the world’s attention.