Special, special, what do you get?

4 08 2013

Pressed on the topic of Hitler, Borges said that “of course I hate and loathe him. His anti-Semitism was very foolish.” This is hard to read because, although we should know better, it’s difficult to stop ourselves expecting wisdom from a person who happens to be a genius.

—Mark O’Connell

I used to believe that talented people were better people.

I wouldn’t have put it that way, back then, don’t know that I even knew I believed this, but I almost certainly did. If you were talented you were special, and if you were special, you were special all the way through.

I think this bias cuts through our celebrity culture, such that fame itself is a signifier of specialness. We want to meet, become friends with these celebrities, hoping that by virtue of being picked by someone special, we’ll become special ourselves.

I don’t want to push that too hard, not least because there’s also a knowingness about this desire, and jokes about “My boyfriend George Clooney” poke holes in the whole cloth of celebrity-dom. Still, why else would any of us who are not-famous and not-friends of the famous care enough about them to make them famous unless we though there was something more to them than [what led them to] the fame itself?

Anyway, it was well into adulthood before I even became aware of this equation, and while I’ve pretty much disabuse myself of the notion, those times that I have met famous folk (mostly actors, mostly while working at Big & National Bookstore), I’ve had to remind myself that they are just folks.

Yes, just-folks with name recognition, just-folks with talent, but when not on stage or in front of a camera, just folks, full stop.

Still, it must be said: I don’t tell my friends when I meet non-famous just-folks.





And you give him these keys, I don’t need them no more

18 03 2013

Michelle Shocked has lost it.

I saw her at the Guthrie, back in the day, a solo performance supporting Short, Sharp, Shocked. My memory of her is hazy, but she sounded good. She always had that strong, pure voice.

Well, at a show in San Francisco this past Sunday, she decided to substitute a politico-religious rant for a second set. Given Shocked’s lefty following, this wouldn’t have led to any reaction stronger than rolled eyes had she not said that same-sex marriage is a sign of the End Times and she worried that ministers would be forced at gunpoint to marry queer folk.

Then she told the audience to tweet that she said “God hates faggots.” At which point the audience began to leave.

A Seattle venue has canceled an upcoming gig, and, according to a commenter at The Stranger‘s coverage of the story, other clubs are shutting her out.

I don’t know what to think of this. I do remember reading an interview with her a loooong time ago (my first year of grad school), in which she talked about sabotaging her own studio session if she thought her record company were taking advantage of her, and of her triumph in taking less money from the company than they offered. Which I thought was odd.

(Maybe I misread her words, maybe I’m misremembering them, but while I liked her music her intensity made me wary. In any case, she seemed distressed at the prospect of fame.)

Anyway, a number of commenters at both the Yahoo and The Stranger stories seem more saddened by what they speculate is a mental breakdown than pissed off. I guess that could be seen as a compassionate response, but I’m not entirely comfortable attributing religious fervor or a political conversion to mental illness: it is possible to change one’s mind without losing it.

Still, whatever the cause of her change, I feel badly for her. I don’t know if she sabotaged herself on purpose, as a way to escape being “Michelle Shocked”, or if she didn’t know what she was doing, or if she sincerely thought a concert was the best place for a sermon, but the damage is  done.

~~~

h/t Kelly O, Line Out





Lou Grant on Hulu!

2 09 2009

Okay, so it’s probably not new, but hey, it’s new to (inattentive) me.

Lou Grant: Oh, the wonders of late-Seventies t.v. See Lou come to terms with female reporters! Watch as the difficulties of Vietnam veterans are confronted! Racism! Censorship! DES! Nuclear bombs in L.A. (from a Croatian independence group, no less)!

Can I tell you I loved it? That I watched the terrorist-nuke episode the other night?

If only Fame were on Hulu. . . but it is coming out on DVD. Might have to get Netflix, just for that fine Eighties fare.

Upshot? If you didn’t already know, as a kid I was a) a news-loving liberal geek; and b) a wanna-be writer/actress/singer who wanted more than anything to attend the High School of Performing Arts in Newwwww York City (that A Chorus Line song be damned!).

And today? Oh, just. . . just. . . shut up.