Hello there and welcome to another week of RetroPop! For those not yet hip to RP's ways, I invite you to enjoy and comment on this guest blog in which I rock a little compare/contrast action between today's female-performed pop music and the works of great women writers of the past for fun, whimsy, and perhaps some thoughtful discussion about enduring themes of the female canon. Sometimes I just jam pieces together in a little then and now kind of situation... and other times I springboard from something in the news.
Today, I couldn't help but be inspired by a story I read about an alleged exploit of one of the most notorious pop icons of our era. And can you believe we've been talking for weeks now on RetroPop about amazing artistic divas and have not yet touched on Mariah? She is one of the biggest-selling artists of all time and has the most number one debuts in Billboard Hot 100 history. Come on, Me. It's about time!
Unfortunately, the reason for talking about Carey today is not so much in regards to her musical awesomeness but moreso her temper. The little gossip birds are a-tweeting about some alleged feud between Mariah and Nicki Minaj, both new judges on American Idol. Now, I don't know what's true or not true, or who's wrong or who's right, but what I do know is that if anyone could hold their own in a showdown with Mariah Carey, it's probably Nicki Minaj. I don't want to spend much time talking about Nicki, as I've already posted about her twice (here and here). But this event did get me thinking about the concept of a pop diva cage match, especially in light of the confrontational nature of Carey's latest single (below)... and I couldn't help but extend that into the realm of RetroPop.
"What are some historic female artist feuds?" I wondered, considering that the archives of Perez Hilton only go back so far. I realized that the lack of historical gossip blogs meant I'd have to use my imagination instead. And the first contenders that came to mind were The Brontës. I mean, amongst whom bubbles more jealousy than sisters? Add to that their geographical isolation, their direct competition with one another, and the added pressure aroused by their inability to publish under their own names at first, and I think I know of one family home where a few passive aggressive Post-it notes may have been left on the fridge.
This Super Xtreme Mega History Heroes video gives you an idea of the kind of power the Brontës were working with.
But who would come out the victor? In one corner we have Charlotte (she wrote Jane Eyre), who appears to have been the most celebrated of the three, having been taken on tour to hob-nob with other literary types in London, even having a biography written on her by Elizabeth Gaskell, thus suggesting that she would enjoy the most public affection and be able to draw from diverse life experiences. Anne (who wrote Agnes Grey) was by all accounts the underdog, enjoying little fame, constantly being overshadowed by her sisters... and dying quite early. And Emily (Wuthering Heights) apparently had very little interest in becoming famous, writing instead for the pure love of writing. To me, that is a recipe for a scrappy fighter. But would she have the confidence to go all the way?
In addition to these personality factors, let us consider for a moment the types of minds behind the likes of Heathcliff, the madwoman in the attic and, I guess, Agnes Grey. *Full disclosure: I haven't read Agnes Grey.* So despite my love of cheering for the underdog, I think I'd have to guess that poor Anne would get picked off pretty early in the cage match, seeing as she didn't create anything close to the enduring images of terror that Emily and Charlotte did with their famous "villains." And, in the end, I actually believe that Charlotte would be the last one standing. I just feel like the woman who brought us Jane Eyre could be counted on to be a real fighter. And so, very well, it's agreed that we could put something like 2:1 odds on Charlotte, 30:1 odds on Anne and 10:1 odds on Emily. *Full disclosure again: I am not a math person.*
But what if we plopped Mariah Carey into the ring/octagon/whatever cage-type thing you're imagining?
Those Brontë girls may have overcome their share of gender stereotypes and difficulties of being women writers in a restrictive time, and, sure, they may have filled my nightmares with images of monstrous villains and spooky hillsides, but they also kept falling tragically ill with consumption and the like. Mariah, meanwhile, has been mothering twins, rocking a high-profile marriage, maintaining her reputation as a lady you don't mess with on the music charts or in real life, and facing down Nicki Minaj. That is one hearty contender. I think I know where I'd be putting my money.
Agree? Disagree? Any other literary diva cage matches that you'd like to see play out?