Cher Streaming Stuff Catchup

DatelineI went to categorize this post as "Television" but I don't even know what the word means anymore. Sigh. 

Anywhere, there's been a ton of Cher content in the last 6 to 9 months. Here's a partial catchup. Last week Cher was on Dateline: White House with Nicolle Wallace. It was a great interview about Celebrity civic action and Cher and Dr. Irwin Redlener's mobile Covid vehicle. 

LonelyCher's documentary Cher and the Loneliest Elephant came out a few months ago on Paramont Streaming/Smithsonian. It's not yet available on other locations but hopefully it will end up on Amazon Prime or DVD eventually.

It was a very moving story, mostly focusing on the trials of Dr. Amir Khalil from the Four Paws animal rescue. Despite the title and trailer, Cher has only a peripheral role in the movie. Which is why it's good to also watch the For your consideration video which is a solid hour of Cher and the film's producer. It's an incredible behind-the-scenes conversation about the many of the challenges both Cher and the filmmakers experienced before cameras started rolling, many challenges not even mentioned in the documentary. You come away thinking it was a miracle the film ever happened at all, let alone the rescue itself. It shows the power of perseverance and Cher's mantra of not taking no for an answer (which is a mantra reiterated in all three video clips here).

Hsn3The lightest appearance was HSN's Beauty Report talking about Cher's 2020-Fifi-award-winning new fragrance. Apparently the Fifis are the Oscars of fragrance. Far from saving the world with COVID vaccines or elephant-rescues, this kitschy girl-fest felt very personal yet still newsworthy. 

In all the clips Cher says she loves the people she works on these projects and she loves making things. They discuss the fragrance's color (Cher doesn't like the whiskey look) and  the notes, the bottle corset with the little baby studs.

The whole thing feels like fun girl-time (no matter your gender preference).  Listening to fragrance nerds talk about smells is funny (and interesting) but funny. They ogle the purse-size's twist-top bottle (so it doesn’t leak in your purse). Then they bring out Theo Spilka from Firmenich Fragrance who says they went through 57 trials and it took 4 years with 2 perfumers working on it. He says Cher knew what she wanted and he Hsn2described her initial conversations about an Istanbul incense she liked and how she "rolled up her sleeves literally." He said Cher is so loved all over world Clement Gavarry (the perfumer) was able to get quality raw ingredients like:

  • Orange flower and jasmine from France
  • Neroli from East Africa
  • Bergamot from Italy
  • Sandalwood from Australia

Spilka says it's hard to verbalize what you want making perfumes, but that this perfume is 150% Cher.

Cher drops hints of some Christmas surprise that doesn't sound like a Christmas album although she admits she would do one. She says her favorite Christmas song is (still?) "O Holy Night." 

Cher says she doesn't plan anything and that she was "talking to Herb Alpert the other night" and they both agreed that luck played a large part in their careers. 

Cher tells a story about how she was told a woman with brown eyes and dark hair would never make the cover of Vogue. As we know, Cher soon afterward was on the cover of many Vogue magazines. She says charity blesses the giver and that she really wants to tour again but she wants people to be safe. She says, "I have as good a time as you do." David, the Cher fan talking to her right then says, "I don’t know about that." They talk about a nail polish bottle Cher helped designed for Deb, her manicurist. They talk about how Cher's mom is still stunning in her 90s.

Cher-stare-kunisCher's biopic was also officially announced recently and people are speculating on who will play Cher. Because Cher is completely inimitable, (as drag queens and impersonators have scientifically proven), this will be a challenge. Talented as she may have been, the Cher cast for the TV movie And the Beat Goes On, (yes, this will be Cher's second biopic), was completely off-the-mark. 

For years I've been thinking Mila Kunis would be a good Cher although I have no idea whether she can sing or move like a groovy coolnick. She's got the comedic sense and she has a similar je-ne-sais-quoi quality, part of which is the deadpan Cher-stare.

 


Cher Is Reunited with Scooby-Doo

Scoob1The last time Cher joined the shenanigans of Scooby-Doo and his friends it was October of 1972 and they were solving "The Secret of Shark Island." 

There were a few notable aspects of this adventure. First, it has Sonny, who is a pretty good comic foil for the other characters (with his big ego and grandiosity). 

Scoob2

In this story, Sonny & Cher meet up with the Scooby-Doo gang while on their second honeymoon. Because Sonny is so cheap, he's booked them into a dilapidated, gothic haunted hotel perched precariously on a cliff.

Shark_Island Shark_Island

 

 

 

 

 

This is interestingly similar to their Cliff House sketches on their current hit TV show of 1972.

There's a ghost smuggler shark scaring everybody who turns out to be....well, I won't spoil it for you. But suffice it to say we all should have known something was up when the shark-guy starting running around the wine cellars on back feet.

Cherhips

The way they drew Cher in 1972 she always appears with her hands on her cocked hips because that's the slightly annoyed, yet terminally hip stance she was known for having at the time.

The episode is also notable because it was as close as any one of us would ever get to seeing what Sonny & Cher looked like before they went to bed. I'm taking this very literally until evidence surfaces to show me otherwise.

Cherscoob2The whole thing is an ironic moment of fantasy anyway because Sonny never let them go on a vacation during this time, so busy were they with tv shows, records and concerts. I wonder if it was aggravating for Cher to pretend Sonny & Cher actually took vacations like this, even to dilapidated gothic hotels perched precariously on cliffs.

There have been about 101 manifestations of the Scooby-Doo franchise. I can think of about 4 incarnations in my childhood alone. Honestly, Scrappy worked my last nerve and I really didn't appreciate the watered-down celebrity appearances on a show what were originally a very scary series. I watched the headless horseman episode with the afghan my grandmother crocheted for me stretched over my head (for protection) and I peaked out of the yarn holes. It was great. 

All the big names of the day appeared on the show. like Don Adams, John Astin, Tim Conway, Sandy Duncan, Don Knotts and even Cass Elliot. As I said, I preferred the closed circle of the original five without the hobnobbing riffraff. I actually had no idea Sonny & Cher made an appearance until I saw a rerun in my teens.

Now the episode is available on DVD and Blu-Ray.

Chersargasso2So flash forward a zillion different Scooby-Doo tv shows and movies later and the latest incarnation is Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? another celebrity filled series. Cher appears in a season 2 episode called "The Sargasso Sea" (which keeps reminding me of the novel Wide Sargasso Sea). For some reason, this episode is not yet available in the U.S. but has been shown in Turkey, Canada and Australia. 

But don't worry because the seasons look like they eventually end up on Amazon Prime and DVD. 

There are copious screenshots already available online and I'd like to review them here.

Chersargaso1 Chersargaso1

 

 

 


First of all, for some reason Cher looks younger in this episode created almost 50 years later. It's a goddamn miracle of science.

Cheryaght Cheryaght

 

 

 

 

Secondly, it appears in this episode Cher apparently owns the yacht depicted above, which feels a bit too much living like the Burtons for someone who helped turned the tide of the new thinner, bohemian woman in the 1960s away from full-figured women like (but especially) Elizabeth Taylor. As a couple, Sonny & Cher were also the anti-Liz & Dick image-wise, their pseudonyms Caesar & Cleo aside (I mean, it wasn't like they were Antony and Cleopatra). 

And you may remember there were scuba-villains in the 1972 episode.

ScubavillainsWell, this episode has both a Scuba-Scooby and a Scuba-Cher!

Scubascoob Scubascoob

 

 

 


This production can't get here fast enough, as far as I'm concerned. 

The celebrities on this series are again a good snapshot of the day, but maybe skewing a bit cooler with stars like Sia, Steve Buscemi, Ricky Gervais, Gigi Hadid and Neil deGrasse Tyson among others.

More information:
https://hanna-barberawiki.com/wiki/Cher,_Scooby,_and_the_Sargasso_Sea!

Watch a clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFIxkTPbwUo

Not only does Cher reunite with the gang but with another Shark-villain (with two feet). Cher even refers to her first appearance, which is a comforting bit of symmetry for Cher scholars out there. 


Cher Copies at the Met Gala 2019, a Cher Meme and Vincent Price

Dresses

Looking at a recap in Cosmopolitan magazine, I noticed two dresses at the 2019 Met Gala that seemed very derivative of past Cher dresses. I don't know why but the Kim Kardashian dress reminded me of Cher's 1998 dress for the Academy Awards. Is it me? 


Kimk Kimk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


And Jennifer Lopez wore Cher's "Take Me Home" dress (live version).

Jlo19met Jlo19met

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cher  Meme (I’m here)

Imhere

Cher set off a meme October 21 when she simply texted "I'm here" after being away from Twitter for awhile. Many people responded to finish the thought.  For example, Alanis Morrissette replied "to remind you." 

My version was "I'm here...I said to the cobwebs forming in the bathroom we use everyday."

Read other responses:
https://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/cher-im-here-meme

https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/pop/9472313/chers-im-here-tweet-alanis-morissette


VpVincent Prince on the Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour

A few months ago I watched the early 1970s Dr. Phibes movies and got really into Vincent Price, "the Gable of Gothic," even buying one of his cookbooks and reading Vincent Price, A Daughter’s Biography by Victoria Price.

I found I have a few things in common with Vincent Price, including St. Louis, Missouri (growing up there I already knew that), Albuquerque, New Mexico, a love of Native American art and a love of the horror genre. So I've been watching a lot of Price movies on streaming.

Plus, one of the long lost episodes of The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour is the Vincent Price episode so I was interested to know if Victoria Price would mention this episode in her book. I actually had trouble finding it at first. Turns out her parents were going through a divorce that year which took up most of the chronological section of the book in 1973. In chapter 29 where she catches up with Vincent Price’s early 1970s TV appearances she covers the show:

“…I did meet a few famous people who really impressed me. During my one allowed hour of television I often watched reruns of I Love Lucy, so when my father guest-starred on The Lucy Show in 1970, my mother took me to watch the taping…A few years later, my father took me with him to tape an episode of The Sonny & Cher Show [really really the Comedy Hour]. I had seen the famous duo on TV, and was causally interested in meeting them. Their daughter Chastity was a baby, and I was introduced to both mother and daughter in what seemed more like an exotic boudoir than a typical studio dressing room. But much more exciting than meeting Cher was meeting their other guest star, George Forman, who had just been crowed heavyweight boxing champion of the world. He seemed so big that when he shook my hand I was afraid he would crush it. But he had the gentlest handshake. I was thrilled to meet him because I was a sports fanatic. Growing up in Hollywood, I never idolized movie stars. I never found them glamourous because it seemed to me that they were simply my father’s colleagues. But sports were another thing. And animals. For my tenth birthday, I was taken to meet my favorite movie star—Lassie.”

Chastity too was duly impressed by Lassie when the dog appeared on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour.

George Foreman actually didn’t end up airing with the Vincent Price episode. This isn’t unusual as guest stars were probably filmed, cut and aired as needed. Vincent Price’s episode aired with The Temptations on December 5, 1973 (Jerry Lewis had the Halloween spot for some unfathomable reason). George Foreman ended up in the #56 and #60 episodes which aired on December 12, 1973, and January 16, 1974 respectively.


Cher at the 'I Will Vote' Fundraiser

JoeI tagged this as "television" but then realized it was really paid-streaming and I had no category for that. Times have changed. 

Just documenting some late news here we already know about but Cher created a new song and performance for a Joe Biden fundraiser right before the election. It streamed on Sunday November 1 and the single was made available the following day on streaming and download locations.

Watch her segment: "Happiness is Thing Called Joe

You can listen to the single on YouTube Music, Spotify or Amazon. Amazon also has a copy for purchase.

The other amazing video from the fundraiser was Will.i.am and Jennifer Hudson redoing "Where is the Love" in a mash-up with a Joe Biden speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jk7LPpY8pXM.

Rolling Stone's coverage and background on this old Broadway song she refurbished: https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/cher-happiness-is-a-thing-called-joe-biden-1081007/

The night of the show, Mr. Cher Scholar also received an email from Cher which read:

John,

I first met Joe Biden in 2006. I saw a speech he’d given, and it was love at first speech. So I went to his office to grill him and I asked him really pointed questions -- and unlike most politicians, Joe actually listened to me and cared about what I had to say.

I know he’s the kind of leader our country desperately needs, and I’m so proud to support his campaign. That’s why I’m so excited to be a part of tonight’s I Will Vote concert, and why I hope you’ll reserve your ticket to the event right now.

I’m asking you personally, John: If I’ve ever made you smile, laugh, cry, dance, or just brightened your day -- will you donate $50 or whatever you can afford to make sure Joe, Kamala, and other Democrats win on November 3rd and get your ticket to tonight’s event?

[Payment options]

The choice couldn’t be more clear, John. I’ve fought for causes I believe in for a long time, and I know that together, we’re strong enough to make change in this country.

So if you’re with me in these final days of this battle for the soul of the nation, I hope you’ll join me tonight at 8 PM EDT for the virtual I Will Vote concert. We’ll hear some great music, talk with hosts George Lopez and Ana Navarro, and hear from Joe Biden, Jill Biden, Kamala Harris, and Doug Emhoff about what this election means for all of us.

John, will I see you there? Chip in $50 or whatever you can afford, and the Biden Victory Fund will send you all the details about how to join us.

Later,

Cher

Later,

Cher Scholar


Sonny's Recipes

Mdcooking1Recently Cher scholar Jay notified me about the October 13, 1969, episode of The Mike Douglas Show where among other things we "learn to cook Italian” with Sonny & Cher. We got to discussing Sonny's cooking and I went on an online scavenger hunt for Sonny's recipes.  I collected all I could find for a dedicated Sonny's cooking page

In this episode Sonny & Cher sing “their theme” "The Beat Goes On" and Cher sings "Just Enough to Keep Me Hanging On."  She's not hanging her hand yet but she occasional snaps her fingers. They also sing "What Now My Love" and Sonny smiles too much for that tragic song.

Cher wears a patterned mini-dress with red hose and has white nails and her bangs have grown past her chin. Her hair is very long! Sonny is in a suit because he says is now rebelling against the “hippie uniform” He says it’s his first suit in 8 years. Cher picked it out, she says. Sonny says he doesn’t like picking out his clothes.

Douglas tells Cher she doesn’t “exude much” and he wonders if she likes the showbiz. She says she enjoys it but “not to the bubbling point.”  They talk about Cher’s bracelet and how Sonny & Cher met. Cher says she set up her girlfriend with Sonny but her girlfriend didn’t like him but Sonny liked her girlfriend. The girlfriend and Cher ended up moving close to Sonny. Sonny says you have to like your mate when you’re together 24-hours a day. How did he propose, Douglas asks. Cher said Sonny asked her “where are you gonna ask me to marry you?” Proposals are more conversational now, she says. On bent knee…”that was a million years ago,” Cher says.

Sonny talks about working as a gopher for Phil Spector (the best producer in the biz, he says) and how hustling records takes political influence and that he was well-liked by LA DJs. Douglas notices Cher’s eyes are never off Sonny when he talks.

Also appearing that day are the Ramsey Lewis Trio and Selma Diamond (remember she was the first Night Court bailiff) . She keeps making remarks about Sonny’s sexuality. She says “he showed up ‘straight’" (she means his gender-bending clothes) and when Cher says she once had a dream she was a fairy,  Diamond turns to Sonny and asks “how ‘bout you?” Not cool. Diamond then tells some unfunny jokes about the British Royal Family. Marty Brill is also on the show. I had to skip over his stand-up act. Then a football player comes on. Sonny likes to talk to each guest about their line of work.

During the cooking segment, Sonny tells Cher to be careful while she chops onions. Douglas acts silly. Do you cook at all Mike? Cher asks. He says no. "Men make the best cooks," Cher says. Sonny says he likes to cook. Douglas says the dish smells Italian and complains about garlic on his fingers. Cher says "Italians just have that natural odor anyway" which gets a huge laugh. Douglas is shocked but he's been making borderline offensive comments himself.

Mdcooking3 Mdcooking3 Mdcooking3

 

 

 

 

 

Cher says she enjoys Sonny's cooking. "It’s really good. It’s really groovy." Two more courses are promised later in the week.  "He always gets to do the artistic stuff," Cher says,
"I always get to do the crummy stuff." 


Cher at Live Aid

On July 13, 1985 I did not, unlike every other kid in my High School, actually watch Live Aid (all day or for any part). My fan favorites weren't appearing. But since all my friends were at home watching Live Aid on July 13, 1985, I remember being very bored that whole long day. As I was trying to watch other TV, I kept running in to Live Aid and feeling very annoyed. Later, I got the Live Aid book and realized Cher was actually there.

Picture from my Live Aid book of Cher lounging backstage.

20200611_074201

Recently, Cher scholar Tyler posted about Phil Collins telling Cher how to crash Live Aid in Philadelphia.

Here is Phil Collins' story starting at minute mark :40: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orkMaiexPCw

Apparently Cher was on the famous flight Phil Collins took from London to Philadelphia (so he could appear at both locations) and she asked him what all the hubbub was about. He was like, if you don't know already...and then she asked if he could get her into the event and he basically told her to show up and she'd be let in. (Cos she's Cher dammit!) Anyway, his story has more detail but the moral of the story is that she got herself into the finale. 

Here are some screenshots of her singing "We Are the World." She comes and goes very fast. Here's video. (Don't miss Patti LaBelle!)

Cherliveaid

Cherliveaid

Cherliveaid


 

 


Look, she's right behind Lionel Richie!

Liveaid4


Decoding the Time Life Sets

Chertime

So the new Cher TimeLife set is out (thank you to Cher scholar Michael for alerting me to this).

To purchase these:

The Best of Sonny & Cher (1): https://timelife.com/products/the-best-of-sonny-cher-carol-burnett
The Best of Cher: https://timelife.com/products/the-best-of-cher-deluxe-collection

These TimeLife sets come in two tiers (cheaper and much less cheap). When I received the first set, I enjoyed the booklet and the extras. I was disappointed that there was only one episode I hadn't seen before and that one was edited. But I was looking at it from an uber-fans POV. Also, I didn't rightly consider the episodes of the solo show that I hadn't yet seen in full, having seen only 1/2 episodes from VH1's most welcome rediscovery of Cher in the mid-1990s. So I finally sat down this week and compared all the sets to each other to see what we have here. If you've bought the original Best of Sonny & Cher series and don't consider the remake version in the Cher bundle, you'll miss out on a few extra episodes of Cher

The Best of Sonny & Cher – version 1 (2019)
You could bundle that with the a Laugh In box set which had only one Cher appearance on it (but that one was very good). It looks like the current bundle is with Carol Burnett Show lost episodes.

20200617_141648The Best of Cher (2020) + The Best of Sonny & Cher Version 2 (2020)
You can bundle the new Cher set that with The Best of Sonny & Cher Version 2. It’s not the same collection as Version 1. The booklets are different and the Cher episodes represented are not the same. The new sets come with shelf boxes. So that's nice. See version 1 and 2 in the picture to the right.

In fact, this discrepancy made me review all the Cher shows with more attention and I have to say, I’m more excited about them than I was at first. I’m not going to list out which DVDs have which episodes because you can see for yourself on the respective links above. I'm just going to survey the bigger picture, which episodes are new, which are mostly full episodes (unless they've cut skits) of shows we’ve seen on VH1 (1990s) but not on Get TV (2010s).

Sonny & Cher – version 1 (2019)
There are 5 Cher show episodes in this set. None are unique to all the sets. All these Cher episodes also exist on The Best of Cher (4) or The Best of Sonny & Cher – Version 2. The booklet in this set has 33 pages. They include pages on the Cher show. This set has the same extras as the The Best of Cher and The Best of S&C V2 combined.

20200617_143121 (1)Cher (2020)
There are 10 Cher episodes included. Of those, 6 episodes are unique to this set and 4 episodes are also on The Best of S&C V1.

The booklet is completely different, about 30 pages with different fonts and layout and many more pictures focused on Bob Mackie drawings and some historical photos of Mackie with Cher. There’s a new “feature” extra called "Cher: Then and Now" and some extras around the Mirage and MGM TV specials. This is first legitimate release of the 1978 and 1979 television specials and that’s a big deal. Someday I wish we also get official releases of the Monte Carlo and Celebration at Caesars concerts as well. There’s also an extra of one of the James Corden appearances, a Believe-era interview, and her Superbowl appearance. The rest looks like recycled shows and interviews from the S&C V1 set.

Sonny & Cher –Version 2 (2020)
There are 5 Cher episodes on this set too. Only 1 is a duplicate (from The Best of S&C V1) and 4 are unique to this set. All the Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour and The Sonny & Cher Show episodes are the same in both S&C V1 and V2.  The bonus features seem all the same as well. The booklet is only 27 pages and excludes the pages about the Cher show.

Taken all together there are 7 full Cher episodes on these sets that have only previously been aired on VH1 in half-hour segments. There are 3 episodes that have never been re-aired since the 1970s.

I'm looking forward to watching all the new Cher episodes when it comes time to explicate them like literary texts on Cher Scholar


Lost TV Land Commercial with Sonny

SonnyfunnyI've watched a lot of bootleg Sonny & Cher shows from TV Land but thankfully the commercials had mostly been removed, which is a shame because I never saw this gem of a TV Land commercial: https://youtu.be/vZINMYfiHGg

Recently a Cher TV scholar sent me an clip of an episode I hadn't seen before and this commercial was stuck in there too.

It made me very happy to think of Sonny enjoying his reruns on TV Land.

In related news, there's a new Cher TV Time Life series to buy. More on that in an upcoming post. 

 


Season 3 is Done

Gotitbad5This week I finished season 3 of documenting the Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour. One more season go for this show.

Cher scholar Jay has helped me figure out some anomalies in the online lists of episode numbers and filling in some missing material. Before heading on to the final season, I'm going to go back and fill in some information gaps.

 There's so much Cher scholarship, there are specialists among us! How cool is that?


Biases of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (and Museum)

Contrast3

As I've been reading academic books on pop culture, I come across some interesting things like this most interesting essay, “The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum: Myth, Memory, and History by Robert Santelli from the book Stars Don't Stand Still, Music and Myth.

Now, I didn't know Santelli when I started reading the essay and I appreciated the first paragraph:

“Depending upon your point of view, the Cleveland-based Rock and roll Hall of Fame and Museum is either the music’s official house of history—the place where one can find proof of its artistic and cultural merit—or as triangular-shaped glass temple that has more to do with myth and mass consumption that the real story of rock ‘n’ roll.”

Santelli acknowledges the “vigorous discourse” about the two points of view. Note here that he calls the institution a Hall of Fame AND museum, and here surmises it might be a "house of history." More on that point later.

He continues,

"The skeptics’ fear that institutionalizing rock ‘n’ roll would kill the music’s present and future and trivialize and compress its past into neat, carefully packaged modules was not to be taken lightly….After all, rock, by its nature, has always been chaotic, incorrigible and anti-institutional.”

So I'm somewhere with these skeptics. A canon of taste-makers creating an in-circle is very antithetical to the idea of rebellion in art, but Santelli has a point that doesn’t stop folk and fine art museums from canonizing rebel painters, sculptors, writers, etc.

But then Santelli dismisses all the skeptics with one sentence: “No one explained, mind you, how rock’s integrity would be violated…No critic came forth with any anarchic alternative worth recalling.”

This dismissal is so vague, essentially saying 'no challenges were worthy' and the use of the phrase “mind you” sent up a warning flag to me that maybe this guy was affiliated in some way with the hall of fame.

Ah yes, we get to page two where he admits he was “a member of the curatorial team.”

He would be biased then. But I still wanted to give him a hearing. He spoke about the museum needing to be “free to make mistakes” and that they wanted to not be that guy who creates “a myth-plated story of the music and its most famous artists that is often shallow, vague, fractured, exclusionary, and nonrevisionist.”

Unfortunately, "exclusionary" and "nonrevisionist" are two words that come to my mind when I consider this museum.

So I wondered what happened? Well, the essay goes on to provide answers.

Early curators worried that

“without any standard historiographical references, there was no way to know for sure if we had gone too far, forging, for example, our own ideas on rock’s role as a countercultural force in the sixties, or assigning values to certain artifacts, or giving one artist too much credit and another too little[me: or none] in shaping the music. Even more importantly, how could we be certain that we separated myth from truth, when so much of what passes as standard pop music history is suspect?”

This is a place to start from, for sure. So what happened?

It turns out maybe the bias was in the homogeneity of the early team. And maybe this is a homogeneity that persists. 

Santelli says, “Jim Henke, the museum’s newly appointed chief curator, assembled a team of music journalists to act as consultants, most of whom he had worked with or who had worked for him when he was music editor at Rolling Stone."

Wow. I was not prepared for that. So it might be fair to call this the Rolling Stone Magazine Hall of Fame. How shocking that one magazine would be so influential in the trajectory of a supposedly unbiased hall of fame institution. I mean, this magazine was never the only point of reference in the industry, right? Anyway, maybe unintentionally, but surely effectively, a Rolling Stone point of view prevailed to set standards and practices for inclusion and exclusion to the lists.

Santelli admits that “each of us owned entirely different interpretations of events, artists, and albums, despite the fact that we were all approximately the same age—late-thirties to early forties—…had been at many of the same major concerts, knew intimately the so-called classic-rock works…”

Ok. That’s not good either.

He goes on to say that “Rock ‘n’ roll, like America itself, is a multicultural, multidimensional maze. The museum, it was agreed, ought to reflect this.”

It’s fascinating to me that this group of people, all from essentially the same social group, is surprised by their own diversity but clueless as to the limits of that diversity. Rock criticism is male-dominated and it's no wonder the roster is as homogeneous as it is.

He takes pride in the non-chronology of the flow of the museum, where an exhibit of The Allman Brothers Band could be situated next to one for Alice Cooper…

“the Allman Brothers Band demonstrated its importance as a musical unit minus theatrical histrionics, like those that made Alice Cooper’s show so exciting in the early seventies; yet an Alice Cooper exhibit, complete with stage props and costumes, was positioned just a few feet away, as if the two were somehow thematically linked. Such a chaotic, “unruly” approach to rock history was spectacularly effective in breaking apart myth and convention and challenged the visitor to rethink his view of rock history—perhaps the museum’s most important accomplishment to this point.”

Contrst2Aside from all the self-congratulations right there, it’s maddening to imagine this, if you will, an exhibit of Gregg Allman (minus those "theatrical histrionics") [oh my blood pressure] situated right next to a CHER exibit (“complete with stage props and costumes”) positioned just mere feet way as if, not somehow but f*#king actually, those two acts were physically linked in some way, like say a concert they did together in 1978 or Allman’s appearance on Cher's TV show in 1975. I’m not talking about a relationship here. I’m talking about products and performances. If Alice Cooper and Gregg Allman were linked romantically, that’s beyond the scope of the Hall of Fame surely. But actual rock shows, record albums and TV segments…

Imagine that!

Oh…my…God. The same reasons they use to glorify Alice Cooper (creative theatrics and costumes) are used against more feminine acts like Cher or Madonna or ad nauseam. I’ve also read quite a lot of rock history in the past 6 months and everybody seems to agree that an Alice Cooper show was mostly image and artifice and show biz. I actually think he would agree with that assessment.

Related: this week I saw a great documentary about the cross-influences of Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and David Bowie called Bowie, Iggy & Lou 1971-1973: The Sacred Triangle. Bowie’s Contrast1Ziggy Stardust creation is described by one commentator as pure image. The commentator said the music could as well have been Elton John songs. [They love to dismiss Elton John too]. The music didn’t matter. The show was about the image-making.

Ignoring the contributions of women artists in image-making is selective history.

First of all, a Hall of Fame is by definition an establishment institution, asserting itself as THE authority figure. When you become the authority you set yourself as an opposing force to rebellion. This is why establishments respond to challenges to its authority. Practitioners of any rebellion will necessarily happen outside of the establishment. Which is an irony of any art canon. It abdicates its identity as rebellious and should be aware of its own new bias.

Of course I’m not the first person to kvetch about these hypocrisies in canon-making and the double standards for men and women inductees. The best example I’ve read to date is “Across the Great Divide: Rock Critics, Rock Women” by Barbara O’Dair (also in Stars Don't Stand Still, Music and Myth), who points out how most rock and blues histories have eliminated the stories of women artists. She also describes the push-back received in attempts to correct this from rock music institutions, like Rolling Stone. A quote from her essay:

“But while male fans and critics may say it’s okay for Mick Jagger to wear eyeliner or Kurt Cobain a dress, identifying with actual female rockers appears to be a much Tourpostergreater leap for most men to take. It’s interesting to note, for instance, that the male fans Joni Mitchell and Madonna boast seem to be disproportionately gay.”

My feeling is it takes balls to buck gender conventions. So those who do it, do it. Those who can’t, don’t.

On the way to my Aunt's funeral last weekend, Mr. Cher Scholar, a student of the NMU museum studies program, was asked by me to explain the differences between a Hall of Fame and a museum and it seems the curatorial aim of each would be entirely different.

A museum tells the history (by both big and small players) and a Hall of Fame simply celebrates the most successful, which is not a history. It would seem an insurmountable challenge to curate for both things at the same time. But I guess that's the least of it.