’Tis the season for John Lennon. The former Beatle had the misfortune of being murdered on Dec. 8, 1980, mere weeks after his 40th birthday, and so for the past few months we’ve had to endure a wearying deluge of documentaries, reissues, biopics, and exhibitions of the sort that only the twinned, round-number, life-bracketing anniversaries of an assassinated pop legend could possibly occasion. At first, it seemed as if the releases might reveal something new about Lennon’s music. But now that the date of his death is approaching and the tributes haven’t stopped, it’s clear that the most revealing thing about this year’s anniversary extravaganza isn’t some remastered version of “Imagine.” It’s that Lennon’s celebrity—the very thing that killed him—is still large and lucrative enough to inspire such a frenzy of “commemorabilia.”
The hullabaloo is a reminder that Lennon, one of the most innovative musicians of the last century, was also a pioneer of fame—a man who courted, commented on, used, retreated from, and was finally consumed by his own gargantuan renown. In the process, he expanded our notion of what stardom could mean, and of what effect it could have. “Our life is our art,” Lennon and Yoko Ono told Rolling Stone three days before he died—a novel sentiment in the days before reality TV. As the Kardashian industrial complex tightens its grip on our culture, it’s worth reconsidering the lessons of Lennon’s celebrity, both the ones we’ve learned and the ones we’re at risk of forgetting.
Full story: The Legacy of John Lennon’s Death – Newsweek