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Today Is A Good Day To Celebrate Yoko Ono

And wailing is cool, actually, you guys are just tragically basic.

One of the most famous pictures of Yoko, taken in 1969.

I saw that John Lennon was trending today, which makes sense considering December 8th is the day he tragically passed. A day like this, unfortunately, invites only the most polarizing opinions: the ones who decry him as an artist and a human being for his abusive history, the ones who refuse to acknowledge such transgressions due to their love for his music, and the people my age who are just sick of the Beatles worship in general.

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Yet the one unifying factor in so many of these “hot takes” is the dehumanization of Yoko Ono. Some see her only as a victim of John’s behavior, while others still carry the torch that she “broke up the Beatles.” And then there are the dipshit piss-ants who hear her “wailing” and can only point and laugh at it.

Postscript: if you’re here from our socials, I wish I could give definitive sources about whether it’s “whaling” or “wailing,” but aside from this Tweet and an old NYT crossword puzzle, it’s murky. Obviously, nobody here is talking about actual whaling.

Well, look, I have my own opinions about John, but I think today is as good a day as any to climb atop the rooftops of the internet and make one thing very clear: Yoko Ono deserves way more than your pity, your useless and outdated takes, and your childish denigrations. She is, and has always been, a powerful artist in her own right, and while you don’t have to like her art, everyone really ought to grow up and start treating her as a noteworthy individual separate from her late husband.

Yoko grew up between Japan and America, at a time when it wasn’t especially safe for a Japanese woman to be so public about who she was. Yet Yoko was always a risk-taker and an artist, exploring poetry and Dadaism even when it alienated her from her family. For Yoko, art was always something to be explored and pushed, which—speaking as the daughter of an Asian immigrant—is a powerful way for immigrant women to establish their own sense of power and identity in a new place that appears formless to them.

She endured much strife in her early career, including losing custody of her own daughter, yet she never lost sight of her vision as an artist and a human being. And while yes, of course there were things about her that are unsavory in the eyes of history, ultimately I can’t help but love her all the same for surviving and finding a way to thrive as an Asian immigrant, without having to sacrifice who she was.

And many other Asian women feel the same. You only have to listen to this year’s tribute album, “Ocean Child: Songs of Yoko Ono,” to see that. The album features the likes of Thao Nguyen, Japanese Breakfast, and Deerhoof—all powerful Asian American artists who’ve helped make the modern music industry more accessible to people like us. Imagine how much harder it’d be if Yoko hadn’t been there already, standing tall and proud in the face of all the shit that was thrown at her.

Feel however you feel about her, but don’t you dare pretend that she lacked a rare sort of power to become who she was. Today, we celebrate you as you mourn, Yoko. Thank you for being.

(Featured Image: Iain Macmillan)

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Madeline Carpou
Madeline (she/her) is a staff writer with a focus on AANHPI and mixed-race representation. She enjoys covering a wide variety of topics, but her primary beats are music and gaming. Her journey into digital media began in college, primarily regarding audio: in 2018, she started producing her own music, which helped her secure a radio show and co-produce a local history podcast through 2019 and 2020. After graduating from UC Santa Cruz summa cum laude, her focus shifted to digital writing, where she's happy to say her History degree has certainly come in handy! When she's not working, she enjoys taking long walks, playing the guitar, and writing her own little stories (which may or may not ever see the light of day).

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