KILLINGS, daily columns and blog —

2014 columns, Pop Culture

Is she Mariah, the ‘elusive’ chanteuse?

by Julia Tulloh , June 13, 20141 Comment

Mariah Carey

Two weeks ago, Mariah Carey launched her fourteenth studio album, Me. I am Mariah…The Elusive Chanteuse. Yes, that’s the real name, and it’s hilarious not only because the title is so long and happily shameless (it exceeds even the audacity of previous albums The Emancipation of Mimi and Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel) but because Mariah has long styled herself as one of the least elusive pop stars in the pop music galaxy.

It’s important that I say she has styled herself, as in curated, cultivated, constructed. Mariah’s celebrity has always been a very public type of fame. She gives plenty of interviews, regularly interacts with her fans via Twitter and Instagram, frequently posts pictures of herself in the studio, in her apartment, in the jacuzzi, in bed with her family and often performs ‘home concerts’. It’s easy to assume, therefore, that fans know the ‘real’ Mariah in a way that they don’t know, say, an artist such as Beyoncé. Bey, as Anne Helen Peterson has observed, is the master of image control and presents a polished and highly cultivated version of herself to the world: when something goes wrong, like an altercation between her sister and her husband, Beyoncé has a killer PR team ready to distance her from the mess with an onslaught of happy family snaps and politely worded press statements. Mariah, on the other hand, is not ashamed to let the messiness in her life show. When she and Nicki Minaj were co-judges on American Idol, their ongoing bickering unleashed a media storm that Mariah was happy to talk about.

Of course, Mariah’s ‘open’ and ‘honest’ account of herself is still a type of curation – but it’s one that assumes people are actually interested in the minutiae of her life, one that assumes the whole point of being a celebrity is to be curated. The way she walks, the way she flips her hair; it’s self-conscious, always posed. But the resulting effect is not a sense of performed authenticity, where style is used to produce a certain sense of substance; rather, I get the feeling the over-the-top, almost-ironic-but-always-in-earnest performance is an end in itself for Mariah. She’s a diva, and she loves it.

This is what makes the title of her new album so great. In a promo video she released shortly before the record came out, Mariah describes how she came up with the name. The first part of the title, ‘Me. I am Mariah’, is the way she named a self-portrait she drew at the age of three. Her discussion of the latter half of the title is far more outrageous: ‘Along the way there’ve been a couple of nicknames and I have inadvertently embodied many personas. Lately, they’ve been calling me “the elusive chanteuse”’. Um, what? What ‘they’ invented this name? I have been a fan of Mariah for over twenty years and no one that I know of has ever referred to her as the elusive chanteuse, except Mariah herself when she announced the name of the record. I love how blatantly she just incorporates her own fantasies about herself into the myth that is MC2.

The album itself is what I expected: catchy, exceptionally well produced, but not hugely different from her previous works. A good mix of ballads, hip hop, RnB, and a hint of gospel. Stand-out tracks include swing-pop delight ‘Make it Look Good’ and rap song ‘Money ($*/…)’, but my favourite is the good old-fashioned hip hop number ‘Dedicated’, which samples a lyric from the Wu-Tang Clan’s ‘Da Mystery of Chessboxin’ which, of course, refers to herself: ‘rap…carry like Mariah.’ But since her voice still carries, twenty years after Wu Tang penned the line, I think she can sample whomever she wants.

Julia Tulloh is a writer in Melbourne and is working on a PhD about Cormac McCarthy’s fiction. She tweets at @jtul and blogs at juliatulloh.com.

ACO logo




9781926428239

Abigail Ulman

Cold Feet and Hot Little Hands: Abigail Ulman on writing – and not writing – her first book

Post-book deal, every time I sat down to try to write something, I felt paralysed by some kind of literary stage fright. I had shown my work to other people before – for writing workshops, and submissions to literary journals and competitions – but I had never before written a story while thinking This story is going to be published in a book. Or, more accurately, This story idea is nowhere near good enough to be published in a book. Read more »

9781926428239

Sian Campbell

Girlhood and The Woman-Child in Abigail Ulman’s Hot Little Hands

Each of the stories in Hot Little Hands navigates girlhood in some way, from the lives of high school-age teenagers to those of young twentysomething women. ‘Girl things’ such as horse camp, gymnastics, feminised bodies, clothing, periods, crushes, yoga and gossip weave through the fabric of the text. Though the subject matter is often adult – the girls of Hot Little Hands navigate abortion, sex trafficking, young motherhood, drugs, and deportation – the girls themselves are not… even when they technically are. Read more »

Dont-Try-This-at-Home-_-cover_-FINAL1-300x460

James Tierney

Subscriber Stories: Angela Readman’s Don’t Try This At Home

As a subscriber to publisher And Other Stories’ distribution model, I am in the unusual position of reviewing a book – Angela Readman’s short story collection Don’t Try This At Home – that thanks me by name for making its existence possible. Read more »

amy-schumer

Rebecca Shaw

Amy Schumer and the equal right to be funny

I don’t think men should be banned from making jokes about contentious subjects. I am of the belief that anything can and should be laughed about, and if done right, it can be beneficial. But more often, women are doing it right, and women are doing it better. Read more »

womens-home-companion

Kate Iselin

Trivial Pursuits: The media and ‘women’s interests’

Women, especially in public life, exist as a part of men’s worlds – a big part, sure – but still a part. Even as women become more vocal in demanding accurate and respectful representation, we are kept at arms length by a mainstream media which struggles to catch up. Read more »

SGbTsPQ

Rebecca Shaw

Command and Control: Trophy daughters and overprotective dads

There is no doubt that an overprotective parent is better than a parent who couldn’t care less what their child gets up to. And there is no doubt that most overprotective mums and dads are well-meaning. But paternal ‘protectiveness’ shticks often boil down to fathers not wanting their daughters to have sex, and by extension, get pregnant. Read more »

kstew

Joanna di Mattia

Kristen Stewart Through the Looking-Glass

Kristen Stewart is an actress who has been criticised, maligned even, for an acting style that transmits from set to screen as sullen, adolescent, wooden, blank, fidgety and inelegant. But perhaps she’s an actress concerned with authenticity, and the defining feature of her style is to show us herself by appearing like she’s not acting at all. Read more »

it-follows-4

Anwen Crawford

Behind You: The subtler horror of It Follows

I don’t watch many horror films. Lifelong victim of an overactive and slightly morbid imagination, I regularly envisage disasters, natural or otherwise, that might befall me, without requiring the added stimulus of cinema. Read more »

anne-dorval-and-antoine-olivier-pilon-in-xavier-dolans-mommy

Joanna Di Mattia

All About His Mother: Xavier Dolan’s fierce women

Xavier Dolan has created an exuberant body of cinema that privileges women (and others on the margins) as complex, chaotic beings. Dolan’s fierce mothers are cleaved from the pedestal that so much of cinema places them on, so that they may dig around in the dirt that is life. Read more »

Struggle+Street+KEY+IMAGE

Anwen Crawford

Shame and Stigma on Struggle Street

Struggle Street framed poverty as a combination of genetic inheritance and natural disaster – a barrier to be overcome only through ceaseless positive effort. Those who sabotage themselves through bad choices are therefore fair targets for our scorn, while those who gain employment or remain sober deserve praise for overcoming the odds. The deserving and undeserving poor, in other words. What an old story. Read more »

TheSlap_Show

Genevieve Wood

The Slap: What’s lost when a cricket bat becomes a baseball bat?

‘A cricket bat wouldn’t make sense in an American context’, says Tony Ayres, executive producer of the US adaptation of Christos Tsiolkas’ The Slap. He’s right, of course – it wouldn’t. But when, in US playwright Jon Robin Baitz’s version, the eponymous slap occurs as the result of a swinging baseball bat, something’s not quite right. Read more »

empire-tv-review-fox

Anwen Crawford

Rise of an Empire

Watching Empire, I wondered why there haven’t been more television shows about record labels, the music industry being the cesspit of venality that it is. Forget TV dramas about police departments and hospital wards – a show about a record label comes with all that conflict, plus outfits, plus songs. Read more »

svfw crop

Katie Williams

Silicon Valley Fashion Week?: Fashion, technology, and wearability

Last week saw the inaugural Silicon Valley Fashion Week? (yes, with a question mark) unfold in San Francisco. The show promised ‘drones, robots, and mad inventions’, and tickets sold out swiftly; attendees were clearly eager to see more inventive clothing in this heartland of nerds. Read more »

AnimalCrossing copy

Katie Williams

Digging For Meaning in Utopia: Storytelling in Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing is a series of games in which – as my partner once remarked incredulously – ‘nothing ever happens.’ In its latest incarnation, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, you become the unwitting mayor of a town populated by anthropomorphic, bipedal animals. Read more »

DUKMRUTRHLU31425064919799

Katie Williams

The Currency of Games: The real world cost of in-game purchases

A new item introduced in World of Warcraft lets players purchase a month of playing time for the real-life price of $20, which they can then sell to other players in-game in exchange for virtual currency. It’s an exchange of real money for a virtual currency that has in-game value but none in the physical, ‘real’ world – and it makes me incredibly uneasy. Read more »

Arts House_Image_10c_Oedipus Schmoedipus (post)_Credit – Ellis Parrinder copy

Jane Howard

A Case for Diversity in Theatre

Attracting different audiences to the theatre is about many things. It’s about accessibility for people without high disposable incomes, but it’s also about marketing and publicity; about creating venues which are physically accessible for people with disabilities; and about ensuring the performers on stage are as diverse as we want their audiences to be. Read more »

2909252617_1f456d0c81_b

Jane Howard

A Working-Class Mythology: Ironing boards at the theatre

In theatre, there is perhaps no prop piece more mythologised than the ironing board, which came to signify the birth of contemporary British theatre. Read more »

ForceM6609

Jane Howard

Witness and Connection at Melbourne’s Dance Massive

In a city where it feels not a day goes by without an arts festival, or three, happening, Melbourne’s Dance Massive is resolutely unique. Australia’s largest dance festival is by necessity heavily reliant on Melbourne-based companies and shows that will go on to tour independently of the festival. The festival is undeniably of, and for, the dance sector in Melbourne. Read more »