Sorting out the real `divas'
Growing Up to Be a Kid
I watch a lot of VH1. In fact, if the cable company that Saint Mary's College uses carried VH1, I would absolutely positively never leave my room. I'm sorry Miss Jackson, but I would nevuh-evuh turn that station off. I am for real on that.
What can I say? I'm addicted to "Behind the Music" and "Pop-Up Video."
Where else can you get such quality bits like the fact that Debbie Harry, lead singer of the group Blondie, with the indecipherable yet treasured song, "Heart of Glass," bleached her hair so many times during Blondie's heyday that it later fell out completely?
But I digress.
I've noticed one thing, though, predominantly through VH1, but emphasized, seemingly, by the rest of the music industry. Frankly, this "thing" is beginning to scare me. It is everywhere, in everything. It is the flippant and flagrant use of the term "diva."
"Diva," defined by my good friend Oxford, means, "an operatic prima donna," and was originally linked with those voluptuous opera singers sporting Viking horns and long twisted braids from the days of yore. These days, however, "diva" is easily thrown unconcernedly upon any female singer who has been able to sustain a career of at least two years, sell a ridiculous amount of albums (regardless of good or bad quality) and have at least five outrageous demands for when they tour and perform. In essence, diva these days is anyone who can sell and be a bitch.
Well. I guess I've found my calling.
Though I adore VH1, I have serious issues with the women they proclaim as "divas." For example, Mariah Carey. I understand that she has a strong voice, demands a lot and an octave range that only dogs can hear, and I respect that. But those elements, combined with approximately four square inches of clothing and huge poofy hair does not entitle her to an elevated diva status. I had a vision ... and it was not of love for Mariah as a diva.
They also claim Celine Dion as a diva. All I have to say is this: My heart does not go on with VH1 to this notion. In fact, my heart stays docked at yes, she's talented, but for God's sake ... she's Canadian.
I could go on for the rest of this column about all the other undeserving diva-hoods VH1 and others have bestowed, as well as other women in the entertainment industry who are self-proclaimed "divas" (Star Jones from the "View" ... I won't even go there), but I won't. I will, however, concede with pleasure to the idea held by VH1, and most of the English speaking world, that the top diva of today's day and age reigns steadily with Aretha Franklin. She is amazing, and that is all there is to it. All you young women out there, yearning to be the next Britney or Christina, take note. Put down the eyeliner and sequined bra tops and learn what it truly is to be "respect"-ed worldwide.
And please do not even start with those so-called "divas-in-training." You either are a diva, or you are not. You either deserve "respect" or you do not. It is not something you train for. This is not the Olympics for cripe's sake.
For every misclaimed diva out there, there is yet another woman out there who would never dream of taking on or giving herself such a highfalutin' title. So think about that. Think about the women who are divas in every which way but down. How about Marie Curie? She discovered radium and polonium. I don't really know what those two elements do, but I passed Chemistry 101 and enough chemistry to say that that was a huge discovery and those are two giant elements on the periodic table. I think, then, that it's safe to say Marie Curie is a diva, and rightfully so. Yeah, Madam Curie was working it in the labs.
And let us not forget the original diva of the acting world, a one Miss Bette Davis. Besides claiming and owning her ah, assertiveness, shall we call it, to its full extent. I think all that needs be said is that the song "Bette Davis Eyes" did not get pulled out of thin air. Getting your way all day everyday combined with a relentless passion, equals good things out of life, let me tell you. Think about that.
Think about the fact that SMC's own Sister Madeleva as well as the rest of the Sisters of the Holy Cross are divas themselves. I might be pushing the sacrilegious envelope here, but I am serious. Those women brought to life what is now the number one, premier liberal arts college in the Midwest. I would like to see anyone even try to tell me that by doing that, they did not unite themselves in divahood, exerting the power of being strong women to get what they wanted. Although the being a bitch part ... I have a feeling that particular element was not so much used. Come on, people, they are nuns ... they have vows that outlaw that kind of stuff.
Think carefully next time you or anyone you know carelessly bandies about the term "diva." Take into account all aspects of the nominated woman. Is she a strong character? Does she get her way? Do your own personal divas' accomplishments span a broad array of categories? Here's the deciding factor: If she has big hair or says "aboot" instead of "about" on a regular basis … she's out.
Molly Strzelecki is a senior writing major at Saint Mary's College. She can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column appears every other Tuesday.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.
All Viewpoint Stories for Tuesday, February 6, 2001