Friday, January 26, 2007

Yo Wuz Pumpin'?


This was the salutation on an e-mail I recently received from Extravaganza. Needless to say, given certain age-related disorders, I had to sound it out phonetically, and then repeat it a couple times fast, to figure out what it meant.

I think the proper response is, "Awrite, wuz pumpin wid u?" But I feared that this would be perceived as either racist (by an unintended reader of the email) or silly (by the intended reader). It's like trying to do that five-part black power handshake, but you find yourself waving your hand in the air after he first two parts, not making contact with anything and realizing that you are just as white as everyone always says you are. So I responded with an invitation to lunch at a pricey restaurant instead, which is really more in my, shall we say, realm of expertise.

In other news, I have met the first class of both of my courses, and can report that I do remember how to teach after all. My course in women's history has, at last count, four men in it -- one of whom is actually a women's studies major, something I have not seen in a good long time. So let's have a special shout out this week for students who will still sign up for a course that has "feminist" in the description.

And isn't it strange that, when you are not looking for a new job anymore (which I am not, and promised myself I would not for the next two years - or until my next book comes out, or which ever happens first) the right job makes itself apparent? The job is this: Beyonce Knowles needs a new agent.

This is why.

Because a good agent NEVER would have allowed Beyonce to be in a movie, "Dreamgirls," where she would be so immediately and completely upstaged by a novice actress of whom most of us (or those who do not watch American Idol religiously) have never heard, Jennifer Hudson. Granted, Beyonce undoubtedly needed a start that was reasonably prestigious and not too challenging. I don't think she has ever acted before, and co-starring as a Diana Ross clone probably seemed like a good idea at the time, particularly since Diana Ross became a superstar, and Beyonce would like to be a superstar. But -- and here is where I would not have blown it as Beyonce's agent -- the Effie (Mary Wilson) role is far more complex and interesting, and Hudson grabs it by the throat in the first number and never lets it go. And then "Living Without You" -- which is the song from hell, because you either nail it and blow everyone's socks off, or you wither out there on the stage trying, is the biggest movie musical triumph since "Over the Rainbow." Or maybe "Tonight," which as I understand it, Natalie Wood was not allowed to sing. The effect is to make Beyonce's voice look less versatile and, well, thin.

Beyonce, darling, your agent should have known that. I would have, just from watching "Entourage" obsessively for the nearly two years of my leave. Furthermore, anyone who has seen "All About Eve" would have known that an actress who agreed (god bless her!) to gain twenty pounds for the role was ready to put it all out on the line. That was a sign, baby, and no one was minding the store for you.

That can be corrected. Let me tell you, just between girlfriends, I know something about your pain right now. And I am here to tell you that it is *possible* to pick up the pieces and go on after such a stunning setback. I've done it. So for you -- and only for you -- will I consider leaving my job at Zenith University at this point in my career. Call anytime, baby. I'm home.


Unknown said...

No, don't leave us! ... Or at least bring us back pictures from the inside of the limo!

.... do the rock-star academics and theorists get agents? Hmm. Now I'm off to ponder what would be the equivalent of academic bling...

Dr. Virago said...

You crack me up, TR!

But you know, I think Beyonce had the harder role and she did one of those "so-good-they're-easy-to-overlook" performances with it. Jennifer Hudson definitely had the better voice, but playing a diva is a little easier since scenery-chewing is part of the character, not the performance. And besides, you have to give Beyonce some credit for taking a role in which she is told point-blank that her voice has less character and quality than Effie's.

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