John Lennon was a celebrity that a premature death turned into an immortal myth; one that still receives from his admirers the homage of a seemingly religious cult. In contrast with this, "Nowhere Boy" (2009), the biopic directed by Sam Taylor-Wood, rather than dwelling on the mythical, idolatrized figure of the musician, is an affecting film about the sorrows of the young Lennon, divided between the love of two women, his rigid aunt and his extravagant but talented mother, whom he lost at the age of seventeen. Actually, the film is a rather conventional musical biopic, but its strongly evocative narration, its emotional texture, and its anti-'celebrification' focus on the ordinary aspects of the young man's life are remarkable. In a way its familial, more personal perspective reflects the 'demotic turn' Graeme Turner (2004) identifies in the proliferation of the construction of the ordinary in contemporary media. But this ordinariness also more conventionally responds to the search for an 'irreducible core', that is the 'true' identity of the star as a person, that nearly obsesses celebrity consumers (Dyer 1986). This desire for the authentic, to reach the core of the personality, informs a great deal of biographies, and the biography which this biopic is the adaptation of makes no exception. Written by John Lennon's half-sister Julia Baird, "Imagine This" is the result of a firm intention: discerning the truths from the myths cultivated by over-zealous experts and over-creative fans who have appropriated – Henry Jenkins would say 'poached' (1992) – the icon and created their own proliferating versions of it. So, the story tries to 'readjust the picture', working from testimonies, memories, and emotion, as Baird declares at its inception. But the biography's real merit lays in its depiction of Lennon's family as ordinary people doing ordinary things, and in its strongly emotional flavour, which Taylor-Wood's biopic has successfully transposed, also thanks to the exploitation of the 'pathogenic' quality of music (Middleton 1990) – which gives the listeners a Barthesian jouissance – and the 'emotional realism' of pop songs (Hall and Whannel 1964) – which provides them with the plaisir of recognition and meaning.

“Nowhere Boy". A Portrait of John Lennon as a Young Man

ESPOSITO, Lucia
2014

Abstract

John Lennon was a celebrity that a premature death turned into an immortal myth; one that still receives from his admirers the homage of a seemingly religious cult. In contrast with this, "Nowhere Boy" (2009), the biopic directed by Sam Taylor-Wood, rather than dwelling on the mythical, idolatrized figure of the musician, is an affecting film about the sorrows of the young Lennon, divided between the love of two women, his rigid aunt and his extravagant but talented mother, whom he lost at the age of seventeen. Actually, the film is a rather conventional musical biopic, but its strongly evocative narration, its emotional texture, and its anti-'celebrification' focus on the ordinary aspects of the young man's life are remarkable. In a way its familial, more personal perspective reflects the 'demotic turn' Graeme Turner (2004) identifies in the proliferation of the construction of the ordinary in contemporary media. But this ordinariness also more conventionally responds to the search for an 'irreducible core', that is the 'true' identity of the star as a person, that nearly obsesses celebrity consumers (Dyer 1986). This desire for the authentic, to reach the core of the personality, informs a great deal of biographies, and the biography which this biopic is the adaptation of makes no exception. Written by John Lennon's half-sister Julia Baird, "Imagine This" is the result of a firm intention: discerning the truths from the myths cultivated by over-zealous experts and over-creative fans who have appropriated – Henry Jenkins would say 'poached' (1992) – the icon and created their own proliferating versions of it. So, the story tries to 'readjust the picture', working from testimonies, memories, and emotion, as Baird declares at its inception. But the biography's real merit lays in its depiction of Lennon's family as ordinary people doing ordinary things, and in its strongly emotional flavour, which Taylor-Wood's biopic has successfully transposed, also thanks to the exploitation of the 'pathogenic' quality of music (Middleton 1990) – which gives the listeners a Barthesian jouissance – and the 'emotional realism' of pop songs (Hall and Whannel 1964) – which provides them with the plaisir of recognition and meaning.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11575/9560
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