I Know You?
read, with dismay, John Rodat’s review of The U.S vs. John
Lennon [Cinema, Oct. 19]. It was titled “Who Put All That
Shit in Your Head?” Considering the intellectual dishonesty
of the review, the same question must be asked of Rodat. His
choice of adjectives (“slick,” “nifty”) belie his prejudice.
In his sight, this film never had a chance as a work of art.
It is a well made and excellent documentary that clearly presents
the truth, including the fact that Lennon’s innocence was
taken advantage of by political opportunists like Jerry Rubin.
Those of us who lived through this time all too easily forget
that we did. More disturbing is Rodat’s need to analyze the
filmmakers’ motives. Is that how he reviews all films? May
there be only historical documentaries that he considers relevant?
And relevant it is. In silence, we finance an unjust and immoral
war, based on the lies of a delusional, corrupt administration.
We have learned nothing in 35 years. My friends who died for
nothing will be 21 forever, just like those who are dying
for nothing now. And we have killed three quarters of a million
Iraqi citizens. Rodat, like the New York Times reporter
in the film who condescendingly chided Lennon’s idealism,
just doesn’t get it. For every kid who, inspired by Lennon,
refused to go to Vietnam, multiple lives were saved. Not only
his American life, but also those who he would have killed.
That the current administration is (not “may” be) overzealous
and criminal makes Nixon’s thugs pale by comparison. (Try
reading John Dean’s Worse Than Watergate.)
Gore Vidal is but one of the many commentators in the movie,
but Rodat is obviously such an apologist that he is offended
that even one had the gall to speak truth to power. Too bad,
kid. You wanted us to “bring it on”? Well, here it is, punk.
I had nothing to do with when I was born and grew up. What’s
your excuse? I may be a product of the baby boom, but at least
I’ve never been an establishment tool like you. John Lennon
was a working-class kid with a guitar, who became one of the
most important people in the last century. His impact changed
the world. Many of us still care deeply about him and what
he stood for. He still matters. Ignorant twerps like you never
P.S.: Please don’t send Rodat to the Dixie Chicks [documentary].
I don’t care for their music, but they deserve an unbiased
John Rodat replies:
Well, which is it? Was John Lennon an innocent dupe of political
opportunists or a visionary leader of the peace movement who
personally saved multiple lives? If the filmmakers had sought
to honestly explore this question—rather than fawning over
a fabled pop icon—The U.S. vs. John Lennon might have
been a provocative and useful movie. But they didn’t, so it
wasn’t. If you had been willing to respond to criticism of
a movie that failed to deal substantially with that question,
or any other—rather than engaging in a defensive and factually
inaccurate ad hominem attack—your letter, too, might have
had some use. But you weren’t, so it doesn’t.
photo for the food column on Oct. 26 (“In Search of Donut
Perfection”) was not credited; it was taken by John Diefenderfer.
We regret the omission.
In the headline for our endorsement (Nov. 2) for New York
State Assembly, District 112, we incorrectly identified the
candidate as Michael Carter. The candidate’s correct name
is David Carter.
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