Monday, November 4, 2013

Tell The Truth: "A Woman's World"

It seems that I always turn to Cher when I want to brush on the topics of feminism or humanism. The reason for this is two-fold: for one thing, Cher is one of my favorite women/humans of all time, and secondly, she represents something that is important to me.

Given that she has been mega-famous continuously since 1965, it seems to me there's no denying that Cher is a living legend and a force of nature. What's truly remarkable about this in my eyes is that her chief talent seems to be "being herself".

I don't mean that in a derogatory way. This is what makes her singing and songs resonant -- they seem to be reflective of something true, something she has lived. And if you've seen her acting in Moonstruck (which I hope you have), you'll know that she brings unforgettable transparency to that character. (The incredible writing of John Patrick Shanley is also a factor in what makes that movie SO GREAT, it must be said. "I ain't no monument to justice! I lost my hand! I lost my bride!")

Cher is always willing to be herself, but what's more, she has a sense of humor about that self. For instance, do you know that she once starred in a mini-production of West Side Story. . .playing all the characters? It's completely insane and brilliant. Watch it here.

And I have complete confidence that Cher will be Cher until the day she disappears from this planet in a cloud of purple glitter (I'm pretty sure she won't "die" like the rest of us). A confidence that is reinforced by her most recent single:

The song: Cher, "Woman's World"; 2013

The song may not be your taste, but please give it up for a 67-year-old woman who wears a gigantic headdress made of cut-up newspapers in the video for her ENTIRELY CREDIBLE club song.

The amazing thing about "Woman's World" is that it sounds so like a Cher song, but it also sounds like a 2013 song. This tells me Cher can adapt to the world as it is, which is something that I admire in everybody but particularly in people who are on the older side.

Cher is one of those artists, like Amy Winehouse, Dusty Springfield, and Joni Mitchell, for whom I feel my appreciation is uniquely colored by being female. It is hard to be a woman.

That feels like a controversial statement to make, although I am not quite sure why. Perhaps because it carries a huge weight of implication: that it's hard to be woman because men make it that way, or that it shouldn't be hard to be a woman any more because of the 1960s, or that (the old chestnut) the feelings that give rise to the idea that it's hard to be a woman are because of an individual woman's personal failings instead of something universal or systematic.

I don't know that I'm trying to make a political statement, and I certainly don't want to make a statement of victimhood. I know it is also hard to be a man; I have read novels. My theory is, and it's not exactly groundbreaking but okay, but my theory is that it's just hard to be a person and the way in which it is hard is determined by what kind of person you are.

This is why I respond so much to Cher's music, which contains not only her trademark message of self-actualization but also the exhortation to join together instead of working apart. Speaking personally, that's the only thing I've ever found to make it easier.