U.S. versus John Lennon film - audience reaction -- by Seán Kinane


Last Friday, the documentary film “U.S. versus John Lennon� opened in Tampa at the Tampa Theatre. It tells the story of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s anti-war activism in the United States in the early 1970s and how that made the Nixon administration feel threatened. WMNFs Seán Kinane reports.

John Lennon was followed by the FBI and eventually threatened with deportation by the INS because the Nixon administration felt that his activism could rally young people to vote and to take a stand against the Vietnam War. WMNF spoke with several audience members after the film. A common theme among them was that they see similarities in the crackdown on political dissent between the Nixon administration and the current Bush administration.

“It made me very, very sad. I think it’s a very import message for right now, but it made me sad because I realize how much of a tight bind we’re in really, and what’s going on is immensely crucial. It sort of indicates that he was killed, who knows exactly what went on, but we all have to watch our backs.
“I think that these are some of the truths that are starting to bubble up to the surface that were sort of taboo and silenced for so long and it’s very important that they’re out now. It also taught me how much of an activist he was, I wasn’t really aware of that, I was just a part of that whole thing, and that was important, too.�

“I’d like to know where the peace movement is today. Why isn’t this very immoral war we’re in today getting this kind of response? Where are the John Lennons today?�

“Basically I just loved it, man. I wasn’t born until 1981. I love Beatles and I love John Lennon. And I just wanted to come to see this movie because I heard a lot of good things about it, but I wanted to relate it to current US policy. We see a lot of parallels from the late sixties and early seventies that we see today. I just love stuff like that.�

“It was a lot better than I expected. All the archiving was done really well. It was presented really well, so the whole thing, I was interested the whole time in following it. It was really great. It seems like people were more open to protesting and getting out there. Now it seems that people are fearful. It’s kind of understandable after seeing everything that went down. That’s my take. I thought it was great, go see it�

“I thought it was excellent, I thought it was really good documentary. It was very well put together. There’s like this déjà vu, it’s the same old thing. You hear the same stories: if you don’t support the war, you weren’t patriotic about the Vietnam War, which I was in by the way and you hear the same thing today. If you don’t support the war, you’re not patriotic, and it’s just not true�

“I think it’s very illuminating, given the fact that we don’t really know what happened with Lennon in the sixties. I also think it’s kind of a shame because for some reason I don’t think we can rally people as we could back then. I don’t know why that is. I don’t know if there’s a fear that’s present now that wasn’t present back then. it creates a precedent. It shows you what can happen if you do this or if you do that. With our current government I think it’s very much along the same lines as it was then. I’m really glad I saw it, I think it’s illuminating as I said and I think more people should come see it.�

The film “U.S. versus John Lennon� is playing at Tampa Theatre this Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

For WMNF News, I’m Seán Kinane


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