On her 82nd birthday, visionary artist and activist Yoko Ono released a music video called “Bad Dancer,” named after the first single on her latest Band album. Critics didn’t mind the dancing—they were warned, after all—but made plenty of disparaging comments about her singing and her costume. Ono struck back with an open letter about ageism in the music industry.
Having created her own musical niche from the get-go, Ono pointed out that critics find no fault with Iggy Pop for doing the same. “[He is a grand rocker, who is creating his own brand of Rock, just as I am. Let me be free. Let me be me! Don’t make me old, with your thinking and words about how I should be.” As for the fashion police, “Another criticism: That my short pants in my video BAD DANCER was very short. Was that bad? You are not criticizing other dancers whose pants are worn short. Do you have a separate standard for a person of my age even in the way our outfits are cut?” I’d say so.
Ono ends the letter by declaring herself to be afraid of just one thing: “That those ageism criticism will finally influence me, I would succumb to it and get old. So I am covering my ears not to listen to you guys! Because dancing in the middle of an ageism society is a lonely trip. Don’t stone me! Let me be! Love me plenty for what I am!” Indeed. Here’s the complete letter.