Is That a Singer or a Band?
April 13, 2012
Identity is a wildly elastic thing in the world of pop stardom, and it always has been. As human objects of fantasy, pop stars provide a way for their fans to project their maddest dreams of transformation. Eleanora Fagan escapes a torturous childhood, slips a gardenia in her hair, and becomes Billie Holiday. Robert Zimmerman shakes off his middle-class Jewish background, takes on a rockabilly persona and starts singing under the name of Elston Gunn, only to change his mind and go with a third identity, Bob Dylan. Farrokh Bulsara turns into Freddie Mercury. Onika Maraj becomes Nicki Minaj.
Civil rights movements have often sought out figureheads with unblemished pasts. The Montgomery bus boycott would have started nine months earlier if Claudette Colvin, who refused to yield her seat to a white person, just as Rosa Parks was to do, had not turned out to be pregnant out of wedlock. Forty-two years later, similar sentiments led legal strategists for gay rights to downplay the fact that John Lawrence and Tyron Garner, of the Lawrence v.
I'm Not Here
November 21, 2007
How can you pack a life as multifarious and contradictory as Dylan's into a biopic without blasting the whole glib genre to smithereens?