Wednesday, 15 August 2012

John Lennon/Stephen King Did Not Say This

John Lennon Happiness Stephen King Twilight Potter Quote

Misattributed quotes are nothing new. Misattributed quotes on the Internet are in some ways more common than the genuine ones. And why not? If I could think of an inspirational phrase likely to fit a famous candidate and then spread it like some meme STD, I would go for it. It's an artform in itself. However, in the last year or so, two specific examples of this behaviour cropped up onto my feeds, and it completely destroyed my faith in the Smart Use of the Share Button Theory. I simply felt I had to make a stand against it just this one time, and so please try not to see this as a personal attack, but rather as an education, you fucking idiots.

"Harry Potter is about confronting fears, finding inner strength and doing what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend." - Stephen King

Look, I get the appeal of this one. We all loooove to hate Twilight even if we haven't read it yet. So first I'd like to explain that Stephen King himself actually would back this quote up (which is probably why the image was so believable). He has said many nasty things just like this statement before, so here is one REAL excerpt I found on

"The real difference is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephenie Meyer can't write worth a darn," King told USA Weekend magazine, comparing "Harry Potter" writer J.K. Rowling and the "Twilight" mastermind.

So don't panic! He likes Potter! He hates Twilight! It's all good!

But the thing is, I am a huge fan of Stephen King, especially in my youth. To date I have read 17 of his books, which let's face it, is probably more than you. So when I came across the above quote, I was suspicious on a fan level, and did what all fans should have done: GOOGLED IT! And guess what - I was right all along (obviously). This statement was made by a girl on Tumblr named Robin Browne and then stolen and misquoted by trolls just for the hits. Shameful! So shameful, in fact, that one guy has taken it upon himself to scour Tumblr, correcting everyone who posts said image.

Glad that's over. Here's the next one:

"When I was 5 years old, my mom always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down “happy.” They told me I didn’t understand the assignment and I told them they didn’t understand life." - John Lennon

As the reincarnation of John Lennon this one bothered me the most, because I never said that. In fact, no one even knows who said that. I remember this quote floating around for years and years until some smart-ass decided it sounded Lennon-y enough, and faked it as above.

Except it doesn't really, if you know anything about Lennon. And I know everything about Lennon. The very moment I heard that quote I knew he didn't say it, because the whole phrase just didn't have that same cynic John ring to it, like everything else he has said before. It was far too "awww" and "inspirational cloud on a summers day" for the guy. But what proof do I have to back myself up with? Well, for starters, John Lennon didn't even live with his mother at age 5, he lived with his Aunt Mimi. Secondly, Lennon came from Liverpool, where the word "assignment" (as an American term) isn't common place, rather "homework" would be used. You look those up if you like, I don't need to.

But still, I recognise it would be much easier for me to back-up my statements if anyone actually knew who the original author was. But as someone who has read countless John Lennon books, and have come across millions of his quotes before (almost every John Lennon/Beatles saying has been written down to death, trust me, it's The Beatles) it really bothered me that a Brand New Lennon Quote would suddenly manifest to light, especially when the earliest date we can find it posted to the Internet was this site in 2001, according to the discussion here.

Hell, people give Wikiquote shit, but the point is that you are required to reference your shit there. And yet on a page this size, why is there no sign of that text? Surely a saying so potent would be there if anyone could actually find a good source? Exactly.

If you don't think this is enough proof, then prove he did say it. Surely that should be fairly easy to do if it truly was him, right? I can find quite a few examples where it blatantly states it's unsourced.

I have since found multiple sources (here and here and here and here and here and here) that claim this quote was from a German Tumblr user named Hazel Weatherfield, the original text written in her own language, like so:

"Als ich fünf Jahre alt war, sagte mir meine Mama immer, dass das Glück der Schlüssel zum Leben sei. Als ich in die Schule kam fragten sie mich, was ich werden möchte, wenn ich erwachsen bin. Ich schrieb “glücklich”. Sie sagten mir, dass ich die Aufgabe nicht verstünde und ich sagte ihnen, dass sie das Leben nicht verstünden."

If true, this is extra sad for two reasons: (1) Hazel Weatherfield may have no idea that her translation is currently being so abused, due to the language difference; and (2) This means that both of these quotes were ripped from an everyday Tumblr user, possibly their only chance at 15 minutes completely torn from their future.

You guys, the point is this: I see some really smart people posting this shit all the time. It's like they go onto autopilot the moment they hit Facebook. But as far as all of this goes, if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. So PLEASE for the love of PRESERVING HISTORY and HONOURING OUR HEROES, trust NOTHING, Google EVERYTHING FFS.

If I catch you now, I will slaughter you. This has been a fair warning.
Thank you.


  1. Replies
    1. These are good ones, but I am still skeptical about quotes with lack of sources. Thanks for the post tho :)

  2. Jared, Your argument (especially the update part) is out of whack. There is no "her" called "Hazel Weatherfield" on Tumblr. It's a young Indonesian musician named Dissa Kamaya. The Tumblr pseudonym is actually a misspelling of a reference in J.D. Salinger's "Catcher in the Rye" to a kid's unfinished stories about a fictitious detective called "Hazle" Weathefield: "He notes Phoebe’s humor and cleverness, and mentions that she writes never-ending fictional stories that feature a character named “Hazle” Weatherfield. According to Holden, Phoebe’s one flaw is that she is perhaps too emotional."

    There's also a rock band by that name.

    Before the update, you state that the supposed earliest Web reference is dated 2001. Then. your update seems to buy claims that it first appeared on the Net as a quote attributable to (a non-existent German female) called "Hazel Weatherfield" (hardly a German name) and "first" appeared on Tumblr. Curious. Tumblr only went live in January 2007.

    As you say: "Google everything/"

    1. I notice Hazel Weatherfield's Tumblr no longer exists, but it did when I wrote the article. I am aware of the Catcher in the Rye reference (I am a big fan of the book), but it was a user name obviously based on Phoebe’s character.

      But you have a point about the 2001/2007 thing, so I thank you for pointing it out and will make another update as soon as I have time. Respect.

  3. Ooops! Mistyped name: Dissa Kamajaya

  4. Your points may be correct re autor but John visited his mum regularly and spent time with her up to the point she died. Also later interviews show him using lots of Americanisms in his language.

    1. People have said this to me, but I think the point still stands. It's about mounting the evidence, and explaining why it didn't sit right with me in the first place.

  5. I think this one is BS in terms of it being a Lennon quote, but it's a meme now," Being honest may not get you a lot of friends but it'll always get you the right ones." People don't care about the truth, they just like a good story. Downfall of humanity.

    1. Interestingly enough, after a bit of research it would appear Lennon did say that! Good quote. Who really knows though? It's true what you say anyway, "People don't care about the truth, they just like a good story".