Sunday, June 28, 2009
so there's an epidemic of famous people keeling over dead. and whenever that happens people fall all over themselves to be the first to say something nice about the deceased. it seems to be a ritual that people need to do, maybe by way of making sure that people don't trash-talk you at your own funeral, on that fateful day? I don't know. insofar as I totally don't expect anyone to even notice I'm dead, I don't feel obliged to eulogize, so much.
but it's way cool to talk about Dead Farrah, and I'm nothing if not cool, um, right?
Heart says this:
Your domestic violence work was just the beginning of all you gave and accomplished in your life. You were a voice for the voiceless, an inspiration to suffering women everywhere, in their homes, struggling in the criminal justice system or in prison. Thank you for the stand you took on behalf of battered, raped women. Thank you for believing us. Thank you for your amazing performance in which you shed your glamorous image in favor of identifying with those of us who have been beaten, battered, and raped by men who said they loved us. Thank you for all you have given to and for women.
which is all very nice. and apparently Dead Farrah did lots of charity work for domestic violence survivors, was on the Board of Directors for a big old non-profit helpful helping agency, and that's great. And The Burning Bed was indeed a compelling piece of TV melodrama, no question. I mean, holy cow, who didn't get all emotional and worked-up by the end, right? There's no better example of the genre, and it was way ahead of its time.
oh, and it was the very first television program to have that helpful "if you have a problem with blah blah meow, call one-eight-hundred-meow-meow-blah, and get help" thing. so also great.
but as I'm always wont to do, because I am the most hypersensitive self-centered narcissist EVER, I'm moved to wonder - hey Dead Farrah, what have you done for me lately?
Heart lists everything Dead Farrah gave to women - you know what you gave me, Dead Farrah?
you gave me a complex, lady. that's what you gave me!
so she hit it big in, like, 1976. I was about eight.
I knew that Farrah Fawcett was important, and it seemed to have something to do with boobies and hair and smiling and boys liking you. it made me uneasy.
that poster? with the red bathing suit? it was everywhere that year. I took one look at it, in all its glossy perfection, and knew I would never ever be that, get there, attain that. I was short, frizzy and speckled, she was tall, blonde and perfect. it was my first experience with unrealistic beauty standards, and I remember being really angry about it. I and my little friends mocked her viciously:
"hi! (fake smile) I'm Drippy Faucet-Minors! (fake smile, exaggerated hand gesture to imitate hair flip) Boys like me! (head tilt, fake smile, giggle)"
get it? "drippy faucet" 'cuz, Fawcett? Majors-minors? hardeharhar. yeah, we were the height of sophisticated witty mature comedy stylings. because we were eight.
but consider the whole poster thing: here is a picture of a woman advertising her sexual appeal, bent and folded and twisted into a strange contortion of availability - her legs say no no no, but her eyes say yes yes yes! she's the very definition of "sex symbol" - a woman who profited handsomely by showing off her body for the approval of patriarchy, yeah?
and she's Feminist Farrah Warrior Princess, now. 'cuz Burning Bed.
but I'm just thinking on this - is it still okay, now that we've named this new saint of feminism, to critique the high-heel-wearer, the hair-do-er, the lipstick-user, the man-pleaser-in-any-dimension, on the assumption that their behavior is not sufficiently feminist and encouraging of misogyny?
I mean, can you GET any more, er, "sparklepony" than Farrah Freaking Fawcett?
and yet somehow she managed to rise above her blatant toadying to The Man to become America's Next Top Feminist, Posthumous.
(good thing I'm not expecting anyone to say anything nice about me once I'm dead!)
Nice lady, did a lot for charity, and died what had to be a horrible painful death. Seemed like a good person, I don't ever recall her being arrested for being coked up and hugging a garbage can at 4am anytime or anything. And she had to be a good person to deal with that boor that is Ryan O'Neal.
Still. It's like the media makes these celebrities up. Unsure when that started. It was like, once the Beatles broke up, we needed to invent someone to be a celebrity. Farrah. Milli Vanilli. Whitney Houston (great pipes, but you see how THAT one has worked out). Oprah. David Letterman. MC Hammer. The guy that used to do adds for Infiniti. Cathy Ireland (well, no, she was cute, so strike that). Christie Brinkley. Paris Hilton.
Al Roker. Keith Olbermann.
It also galls me that many of these celebrities who - given them credit - donate time and money to very worthy causes, can say, outta here, and go back to their villa or their island and be waited on hand and foot, and avoid anything unpleasant. Whereas if we were over there volunteering, um, guess we don't have the helicopter and armed guards and a wine bar with caviar waiting for us in the copter.
Celebrity is fleeting? (I think someone said that once, sounds familiar). No, I think it's invented.
Hey just my $0.20.
Sure, we're hearing lots of good things about Farrah right now because you just don't speak ill of the dead, and you write eulogies in a certain, not-so-realistic way, mostly to sooth the grief of the survivors (not to speak truth to the dead). But, maybe, Farrah also served as some kind of feminist icon, at least to some segment of the population. Just because you or I are not in that segment doesn't mean that we should denigrate or deny them.
The seventies were a strange time, the pinnacle of second wave feminism and the dawning of a new sexist age, at one and the same time. That someone, young and in possession of significant physical beauty, might use that beauty to advance her entertainment career is perfectly understandable (if not laudable). That she might, only a few years later, in the midst of a conservative social backlash, become a champion for some aspects of women's rights is also understandable. I think we might just be able to forgive her for not repudiating her own beginnings.
And, just so you know, I won't bother to say anything nice about you after you're dead; what would be the point? you won't be there to appreciate it. I'd rather flatter you while you're here; while I might benefit from the effort.
Remember, funerals and all the ceremony that surrounds them don't have anything to do with the dead person: it's all about making everyone else feel better when they've only got reasons to feel worse.
That's why we praise the dead, and why we damn them: some people grieve for the deceased, and need the comfort of kind words; other's grieved by the actions of the dead in life, and their grief might be assuaged by a recounting of those sins. Only extraordinarily wicked people deserve to be damned in death: I'm not certain Farrah Fawcett was so wicked a person as that, whatever beauty myths she bought into or helped promote.
aw, bless yer heart. I sometimes forget that new people sometimes like to read here, and haven't been all involved with the whole internet feminist blogwar thing.
forgive me if I have not supplied the necessary context.
that is entirely the issue.how much self-definition is allowed?
Hey! Not my fault! I would've come to that dance, if I'd gotten the invite. I know I've got my spiked leather jacket and engineer's boots around here somewhere...
forgive me if I have not supplied the necessary context: that is entirely the issue; how much self-definition is allowed?
Hrm, maybe I'm just an old fogey, but the whole self-definition thing seems like a binary property to me; all or nothing; either I get to define myself as a polydactyl potted petunia, or somebody is oppressing me!
(Ok, I am an old fogey. GET OFF MY LAWN you damn gender-role constructing kids!)
Err, um, yes?
Doesn't Farrah and her posthumous elevation to feminist icon kinda' make the point that you don't have to look a certain way to be a feminist?
No, professor, I wasn't sleeping; I just blink exceptionally slowly. What was the question again?
if you've nothing better to do, look up the term "sparklepony" for further context. if you simply must. or "fun feminist."
the phrase "fun feminist" is even worse.
it's hard to sum up the whole years-long thing in just a comment or two.
I'll try to sort it out for you. gimme a while.
"I'm so pretty, and please like me, a love me, because I sparkle, and I'm just a little pony that sparkles.".
Actually kinda looks like Farrah, albeit the skin is redder.