Mister D: I thought this was a cute little article, so I’m passing it along. She makes a good point about Dolly and Bette…at least I agree.
Singer Bette Midler rehearses for “Bette Midler Opening” on January 12, 1978 at the Copa in New York City, New York. Photo: Ron Galella
In the tabloid blogosphere it would seem as if controversy equals fame. I don’t think this is a new concept. It’s that whole “no such thing as bad press” deal. There are many famous folks who’ve rendered themselves universal punchlines.
Fewer and farther between, however, are those that are universally adored.
Take Dolly Parton, for example. No one hates Dolly. The woman has had more nips and tucks than two seasons of the similarly named TV drama and it has earned her name a synonymous reference to plastic surgery. Her breasts are probably a flotation device that could rival any plane seat cushion I’ve ever returned to the upright position. Still … no one can hate Dolly Parton. She’s just so friendly and perky. She’s the sort of woman you really believe is nice in person.
For Dog’s sake, I hate country music but I love me some Dolly Parton. Don’t think that I won’t watch “9 to 5″ every time it’s on or try to hit the high notes in “Jolene.” I’m not above it.
Bette Midler is another woman on a pop-culture pedestal. She’s not nearly as smiley as Ms. Parton. But Bette is lovable in her own brassy way. I’ve always thought that she would make a great aunt. The kind that would get you all hoped up on sugar, buy you a puppy and let your mom deal with the fallout. Granted, “Wind Beneath My Wings” is tops on a playlist of elevator music’s greatest hits, second only to “From a Distance.” But you can’t hate the Divine Ms. M. At best, you can be neutral.
Maybe the secret to earning tabloid Teflon is to have starred in an 80’s tearjerker like “Steel Magnolia’s” or “Beaches.” What if middle-aged women secretly dictate who’s hot and who isn’t? Could there be a Skull and Bones society of the fragile where emotions have some sort of pull with the Screen Actors Guild?
I’ve heard weirder conspiracy theories.
Of course neither of these women have ever cancelled tour dates due to drunkenness. Nor have they beaten their ex-husband’s car with an umbrella or forgotten to wear panties with a mini-skirt. I’ve never read about Dolly’s public feud with Oprah or her open adoption of the youth population of Mali. I have yet to get an email update about Bette’s latest DWI, custody battle or rehab stint.
So maybe, just maybe, the key to being universally adored is to have a little class. Either that or opening a super cool theme park based on your own image — Hello Dollywood!
CE Skidmore is an urban transplant who found her niche in the North Country. You can read her columns Saturday in the Post-Star and online at www.poststar.com.