The New York Times posted an article yesterday about Yoko Ono as her old albums are being reissued next month. Years ago, when the albums were initially released, her music was considered super weird – and still is, by some, now. Those sounds, however, have inspired many other artists and the NYT piece ends with an observation, jumping off of Yoko’s declaring “I was too early”, that she was/is “ahead of her time”. It reminded me of an essay written by Lindsay Zoladz for Vulture last year, Yoko Ono and the Myth That Deserves to Die. Lindsay argues that the mythology around Yoko’s motivations, specifically related to her relationship with John Lennon, was born of sexism and mythology, and she too concludes her piece by asserting that Yoko imagined a world that we are only just now beginning to see.
Earlier this week it was reported that both Jennifer Lawrence and Scarlett Johansson are each developing biopics about Zelda Fitzgerald. Like Yoko, Zelda was blamed (by many, including Ernest Hemingway) for muting F Scott Fitzgerald’s creative output. Like Yoko, Zelda was an artist in her own right whose talent was undermined in the shadow of her husband’s fame, and certainly at a time when women weren’t credited for their creative contributions. He borrowed from her repeatedly and when she was writing her own book, based on their life together, he reportedly insisted that she leave out certain parts, certain experiences so that he could write about them. Telling Zelda’s story now to a new audience will likely explore that inequality, focusing on Zelda – her attitude, her sensibilities – as a woman also “ahead of her time”. Zelda may have had serious mental health issues but her declining mental health was no doubt exacerbated by the fact that she sought creative independence well before women were “allowed” to be creatively independent and, some argue, was stifled creatively, itself a form of abuse, by her own spouse. Even Georgia O’Keeffe’s work was largely attributed to the man who “discovered” her, husband Alfred Stieglitz, and he was the one who actually assigned the infamous eroticism to it – thereby defining its reputation – that she would later insist, adamantly, was never her vision.
Back to Yoko – even though many have revised their opinions of her, opinions based primarily on the accounts and biases of men, she remains a provocative and controversial pop culture icon. Her history and present are fascinating. Her future, evidently, is still intriguing. She lived through war, she moved to New York and was part of the artistic community well before she met John, her exhibits have inspired and have been imitated by countless artists after her, her romances are spectacularly dramatic, her second husband took away their daughter and they went decades without seeing each other, AND on top of all that, The Beatles. So…
Why isn’t there a Yoko Ono biopic?!? Maybe she hasn’t authorised a biopic. But if ever there was a woman whose life invited one, it’s Yoko Ono.
Have a great weekend!
Yours in gossip,