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By Alan L. Chrisman
A letter from British director, Peter Watkins, first known for his controversial
anti-nuclear war 1965 docudrama, War Games, was the catalyst for John Lennon
and Yoko Ono to start their Bed Peace and War is Over (If you want it)campaigns
in 1969. John said a letter from the films director had first challenged them. The
letter said: People in your position have a responsibility to use the media for
world peace. And we sat on the letter for about three weeks thinking, Well,
were doing our best, all you need is love, man. That letter just sort of sparked it
all off. It was like getting your induction papers for peace.

John and Yoko staged their Bed-ins for peace, originally in Amsterdam, and
famously later in Montreal, Canada, for a week in May.69 and on June 1st
recorded in their hotel room with several attendees, their peace anthem, Give
Peace a Chance.
On Dec. 1, 1971 they released their single, Happy Xmas (War is Over) ,and
posted billboards in major cities of around the world. The song has now become a
timeless holiday favorite. Yoko has announced that she has re-launched the
War is Over Campaign and poster and is asking fans to re-send the poster as
holiday cards. Also shed like people to join together in singing , Imagine, for
this coming New Years.
But it was that letter by Watkins and his film, War Games, which had been
banned by the BBC for its realistic depictions of nuclear war, during the Vietnam
War, which had been the impetus for John and Yoko to come up with their
concepts to draw the worlds attentions about war and violence.
Watkins also made another thought proving film, PRIVILEGE in 1967. Its the
story of a rock star who becomes so popular that he becomes controlled by the
government and the Church to do their bidding. It stars a real pop star of the
time, Paul Jones of British band, Manfred Mann, as the main character, Steven
Shorter. The female lead was played by, Face of the 60s, supermodel, Jean
Shrimpton. The film raises some very intriguing questions about pop music and
culture and mass medias effect on society. It was very prophetic in its
awareness. At that time, mass pop music was in its beginnings and didnt have
the power that we have now come to take for granted, but the film foretold what
was about to happen in 60s and which continues to this day. As I said, the
powers that be, in the film, soon see the commercial (and political) potential and
how they can manipulate the population and situation. Its a satire and cautionary
statement at the same time, a mixture of Orwells 1984, and documentary of pop
cultures and medias growing domination. Its actually, partly influenced by a
documentary on 50s pop idol and his screaming fans, Canadian-born, Paul Anka

(Diana, Puppy Love and who wrote My Way for Frank Sinatra), Lonely Boy.

Its also interesting because, while touring America in 1965, John Lennon himself,
had stirred up controversy, when he was quoted as saying, Were more popular
than Jesus Christ. DJs and some fans, mainly in the conservative U.S. South, had
reacted by condemning him and holding Burn Beatles records rallies. Lennon,
under pressure, had to somewhat apologize for his remarks, even though he was
just expressing his own experience as part of a massively popular cultural
phenomenon. Of course, what he said was a very perceptive comment on his
own experience and observation. Theres a scene in the film, Privilege, where, the
singer, Steve Shorter, has to perform in stadiums and almost like a fundamentalist
faith-healer touch and cure audience members with disabilities and afflictions.
Lennon said, at Beatles concerts, they would place the disabled in wheelchairs at
the front and sometimes, on stage in those big stadiums, most all the Beatles
themselves could see from the stage, were these unfortunate people and after

the concert, they would be brought backstage to meet the band. On those
gruelling tours, they were the few fans they often got to see up close. Theres a
scene in Privilege, where Paul Jones as rock star, sings the song, SET ME FREE,
from behind jail bars erected on stage, as the audience screams hysterically. Patti
Smith would later record the song for her album, Easter, in 1978, and that scene
from the movie, Privilege, still says a lot about the way we, perhaps, today with
our pervasive mass media, even more, worship pop celebrity. Privilege, the 1967
film, was ahead of its time, long before current films like the Hunger Games and
covered of these same themes, and its recommended you check it out.
Lennon became quite aware of the strange circumstances pop idols often found
themselves in, with all the adoration and mass hysteria. As he sang later Christ,
the way things are going theyre going to crucify me. And sadly, ironically, as
we all know, he was killed by a deranged fan on Dec. 8, 1980. George Harrison
had also been stabbed over 40 times by an intruder in his home just a couple
years, before, which didnt help his health certainly, and he would pass away of
cancer on Nov. 29, 2001. Some of the issues raised in Watkins films, Privilege,
and War Games, were to have influence on future events and John and Yokos
efforts for peace, which Yoko is still asking us to carry on, in Johns name and
ideals. Privilege, the 1967 film, was ahead of its time, long before current films
like The Hunger Games covered some of these same themes, and its
recommended you check it out.
See below trailer for 1967 film, Privilege:
See below John Lennon talking common sense about peace and violence:

Link to YOKO ONOS WEBSITE, where you can download and send updated


Dear Friends
Go to
Download, print & display these multilingual 'WAR IS OVER!' posters in your window, school, workplace,
car and elsewhere.
Post them on your Social Media feeds and use the hashtag #WARISOVER.
Send them as postcards to your friends.
We say it in so many ways, but we are one.
I love you! YOKO.