Just when you think nothing could be better than life’s four fingers inside you—here comes the thumb. Pop sensation Christina Aguilera plays a country girl who comes to Los Angeles to find love and sing and dance at a burlesque-themed burlesque club, which maybe is the sort of place where people in L.A. still like to go? Do they still do the swing-dancing thing in San Francisco, I wonder, with the Betty Page hairdos and the, um, Betty Page tattoos? I was in the Castro when Ray of Light dropped, but imagine when “Song for the Lonely” blew up. Bill sweetly refuses to believe Cher’s had any work done (and later refers to a famous L.A. street as “Sunset Avenue”), but Mad and I don’t push it, I look across at her after the Alice in Wonderland reference, and also when Xtina scores the Louboutins, just like Kristen Bell wore in When in Rome, and here’s Bell herself dressed up like Cotillard in Nine, and looking unexpectedly fulsome and depraved. What’s the cruel existential joke of the movies? You’re in the dark, no one sees your hands shake, you can let your idiot jaw go slack, you’re finally permitted to stare and stare at the thing and then… cut! Cut, cut, cut!
My sole interest in fame would be in having everyone know the gods prefer me. And getting special treatment. Everything one knows of the Law says that the wealth and power to pile pleasure on top of pleasure could add nothing to one’s humanity—but hey, rules are made to be broken. The only problem with stardom: you’ve got to want it so bad. Got to break out of the all-reality-dance-program-veteran kickline, save the old diva’s club, land the cute bartender—as in Singin’ in the Rain, the weight of salvation all falls to the ugly (no, but interestingly bow-legged) duckling because the rest are too-complacently lip-synching away. Presence takes a round from pastiche, pure voice=air rights, a column to outer space, a direct line to the music of the spheres. And the melisma rumbling up from that small but mighty diaphragm quivers the cosmos, and makes the very heavens cream.