18 June 2013

Dream of a Perfect Life

Lot of excitement leading up to the broadcast of Jian Ghomeshi's interview with Joni Mitchell. He talked to her recently  in her home, at her invitation. It's a big beautiful feather in Jian's professional cap. Good for him. 

And so what? That was my feeling after watching two or three video clips of other reporters interviewing Jian about his interview of Joni. Some people can talk about what they do in an interesting way -- other people can't. I'd love to hear a description of how one prepares to interview a living musical legend. I wonder what one does with the weight of public expectation -- knowing that millions of people are waiting to hear (and critique) the finished product. I wonder how you avoid contaminating the work with your own vanity  as one of a handful of people ever allowed access to one of the most important artists of the 20th century. 

Jian isn't as young as he looks but perhaps lacked the personal maturity to offer anything more than the usual commercial-media style teasers for the upcoming broadcast. Or perhaps it was just another example of striving for the greatest mass appeal, the "lowest common denominator" approach. Or maybe he'll do a more reflective, interesting interview about the experience sometime in the future.

I'm in the process of listening to the interview in its entirety and will blog about it soon. For now, I'll begin a discussion of what I see as a widespread subconscious belief that a "perfect life" is possible. It shows itself in a lot of different ways. For example:

With the recent heightened public exposure, Joni has come under attack for her continued indulgence in cigarette smoking. What is that about? Seriously. I'd love to hear someone talk about what gets triggered in them when they see a celebrity smoking or Joni Mitchell in particular smoking. I asked someone about it and they responded "Barack Obama, Joni Mitchell...People like that are role models. They have a responsibility to set a good example." This was the response I expected but it didn't answer my question. I want to know the cause and effect of being outraged about the behavior or lifestyle of someone you don't know. 

Joni has been "sick as a dog" (her words) in the past few years. A comment on a website stated plainly: "I have no sympathy for her as long as she keeps smoking." Really? This person's reaction to Joni Mitchell's smoking habit is sufficiently intense to disable capacity for compassionate response. What is going on there? It goes beyond mere spite since it is unlikely Joni will ever see the comment.

Another comment on Facebook reads "Joni? Still Smoking? Really....?" as though everybody knows the One Thing there is to know about smoking. As though you either get it that smoking is horrible and immediately stop doing it or you're not very smart. As though if you smoke you forfeit all entitlement or possibility having A Good Life.

In reality, of course, there's more than one thing to know about smoking cigarettes. And  moments of ineffable joy, fulfillment and beauty occur even in the lives of people who smoke cigarettes. To this last idea, a comment at one of several sites promoting the Ghomeshi interview responded "She would have even more happiness and success if she quit smoking."  The writer cannot sincerely believe she has the power to make this prediction? And what does that statement even mean --  how do you measure the happiness and success of someone you've never met? What would more happiness and success look like for someone like Joni Mitchell's?

Note:  It's over a week since I started this post. I'm not smoking and temps have been over 90.... I'm disoriented and disinterested and unable to go any further with this.