Bagism: Wikis


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Bagism is a term which was created by John Lennon and Yoko Ono as part of their extensive peace campaign in the late 1960s. The intent of bagism was to satirize prejudice and stereotyping. Bagism involved literally wearing a bag over one's entire body. According to John and Yoko, by living in a bag, a person could not be judged by others on the basis of skin color, gender, hair length, attire, age, or any other such attributes. It was presented as a form of total communication. Instead of focusing on outward appearance, the listener would hear only the bagist's message.


Purpose and origins

John and Yoko introduced the idea during a well-received press conference in Vienna on March 31, 1969, and explained it more thoroughly in a June 14, 1969 interview with David Frost.[1] Bagism reflected the whimsical, carefree, and often comedic mood of John and Yoko's other peace efforts, such as their Bed-Ins. By catching the attention of the masses with its outlandish premise, bagism presented a powerful social and political message to the world. As Lennon stated, "Yoko and I are quite willing to be the world's clowns, if by doing it we do some good."

The couple had earlier appeared in a bag, at The Alchemical Wedding, an underground artists' gathering, at London's Royal Albert Hall in late 1968. The event was put on by the Arts Lab and BIT, which sought to challenge audiences to be participants rather than passive consumers. John and Yoko climbed into a large, black velvet bag on stage, sat cross-legged, knee-to-knee, hunkered down and closed the bag. They moved only twice in 45 minutes, hunkering further down. This was a strong challenge to the audience. The mystified media falsely reported that John and Yoko had made love in the bag.

Yoko said that bagism was inspired by the theme of Antoine de Saint-Exupérys The Little Prince, which was "One sees rightly only with the heart, the essential is invisible to the eyes." She hoped that the bag, by hiding her and John's physical appearance, would make their essence or the essence of their message visible.

Bagism in the songs of The Beatles

Bagism is mentioned twice in Beatles songs. The first time is in "The Ballad of John and Yoko" where John refers to "eating chocolate cake in a bag", which was at the Vienna press conference, and the second is in the song "Come Together" where he sings "He bag production". This is referring to Bag Productions Ltd, Lennon's public relations company, which derived its name from Bagism. Bagism is also alluded to in John's own composition, "Give Peace a Chance", with the line, "Everybody's talkin' about Bagism, Shagism, dragism, Madism, Ragism, Tagism, This-ism, That-ism, ism, ism, ism."

Internet following

A website called Bagism was created circa 1994 by Sam Choukri, providing John Lennon and Beatles links, photographs, rare sound recording snippets and video. At one point, circa 1996, the precursor to, a website focused on John Lennon, was sent a cease and desist request from the representatives of John Lennon's estate over copyrighted John Lennon content. After an unsuccessful appeal to Ono and the John Lennon Estate and the Dear Yoko petition campaign, Choukri decided to focus his efforts on less legally-volatile content and the website has since been a hub for discussion, detailed discographies, letters, articles, fan artwork and poetry and many other types of content.

Public sightings

John Lennon Airport, September 2006

In 2006, Liverpool John Lennon Airport had the words "Bagism, Shagism, Dragism, Madism, Ragism, Tagism" stickered along the front windows of the airport. This was done along with the branding of various John Lennon lyrics around the inside of the airport.

Bold St, Liverpool - On 18 August 2007 a Bagism 'intervention' occurred in the centre of Liverpool, by two local artists who improvised for several hours, playing noisy electric guitar and performing poetry. This preceded a full Bagism event at View Two Gallery on Mathew Street, on 22 August 2007, as an underground 'fringe' event during Beatles week.

See also


External links

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