Sunday, March 27, 2005

Mimi Agonistes

After the birthdays we celebrated yesterday, this one might seem like a step down, if you're not thinking that "Can't Take That Away (Mariah's Theme)" and A Streetcar Named Desire inhabit the same cultural plane. But Mariah is 35 today, and somebody oughta notice. And listen, I am not going to sit here and lie to you and pretend that I don't know all the words to "Can't Take That Away (Mariah's Theme)," or that I haven't brought that shit home in the shower a time or two. And when I do, I like to think that somewhere, a pauvre, feckless, post-"nervous exhaustion" butterfly is finally getting her wings.

All of which is part of a larger admission, which is that one of my curses on this spinning ball of sand and spit is that I'm a Mariah Carey fan, and I cannot help it. We in Mariah's camp—which is different than Camp Mariah, and if you're a fan, you know what that is—we hang in there for her. If this girl wants to smash dishes and spin out on TRL, I'm still there. Yeah, Glitter was hard, even for us, but Wisegirls worked out just fine, with Mariah channeling Diane Ladd from Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. And if I'm really going to stick my neck out, the Glitter soundtrack needed no excuses. That was a great 80s album that just happened to be born 15 years too late. I will spend my entire life answering the question, "Where were you on Sept 11th?" with the honest answer, "Buying the Glitter soundtrack at Sam Goody, the minute the store opened" and for that alone, Mariah owes me.

So now, to even the stakes a little on that debt, and by way of a birthday present, and in the spirit of my fandom that has not strayed, I do have a couple of suggestions for Mariah that I really think would help her recapture some of that luster she's been missing:

  • Honey, you gotta lay off the airbrush. I won't even say anything about the poses or the outfits of your typical photo spreads, because even they would be permissible if your skin weren't consistently re-pixellated into something quite so Polar Express. The album covers are the worst offenders in this regard, and the new one is like an all-time low. As many songs as you sing about being at peace with yourself, let's allow that message to sink in a little, now that we're 35 years in. Cyborg≠sexy.

  • Honey, I am not gonna call you Mimi. We already had this discussion when you briefly tried to rechristen yourself "Honey B. Fly." Don't gimme that Eternal Sunshine look, you know I remember. And now you're doing it again. Your name is Mariah.

  • OK, the reinvention/emancipation thing. The butterfly motif has gotten a lotta play, but I got it at the time: emerging from that marriage, coming off a big-ass haul of Grammy nominations in '96, you were doin' it for yourself, ringing on your own bell. Then we kind of gilded the lily with the whole rainbow mythology, as in, "Over the----" and "I've finally found the end of my----." And now, The Emancipation of Mimi. Girlfriend has been "liberated" more times than James Brown, Bobby Brown, and "the good people of Afghanistan" all put together. At some point, you gotta bring to the table who you are now, instead of who you're still becoming. (Note that when Madonna is ready for a reinvention, she just does that shit, and we all go along with it.)

  • "Genius of Love" by the Tom Tom Club: it's bedtime. I don't know how you scored two #1 singles by sampling the same hook from the same song, but you got away with murder. No love lost, you know: "Fantasy" and "Heartbreaker" were amazing. But three times is not the charm. Cast wide thy nets.

  • The Mariahisms. These have to be read to be believed, as they are, quite literally, the stupidest things in existence, and when I say that, I am not forgetting either Jessica Simpson or that brand of PB&J that comes all together in the same jar. Mariah, your webmaster oughta know.

  • (I changed my mind about the Mariahisms. I love them. They are too reliably funny in their absolute empty-headedness. The all-star run that stretches from "Complete and Total Joke" through "Dramaticking" is a highlight, as are the moments when she explains what "Okaaaaaay" and "Oh My" mean, and the notion that Mariah Carey invented scare quotes. But really, the best is saved for last: check out the explanation of "You Love Me." You guys, this is a trove.)

Mariah, I gotta go. But I'm glad we had this talk, because I think eventually things will come around for you. Don't you want to have the Cher career, where you drop off the radar for years at a time and then make everyone love you again in one fell swoop? Rinse, repeat? [You love me!] It could happen.


Blogger Dr. S said...

I heart you so much. You love me! This is the funniest thing I've read all day. (Of course, I'm reading Sebald... but even if I were reading Sedaris this would be the funniest thing I'd read all day.)

3:44 PM, March 27, 2005  

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