Minggu, 15 Mei 2011
Todd Haynes - Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (1987)
Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story does as much and more, and it’s a shame that it can only be seen through bootleg video, blocked from distribution by Karen Carpenter’s family. One can understand why, because the film is a distressing examination of public versus private personas. For the most part, the film is shot with Barbie dolls playing the roles of the ill-fated ‘70s singer and her family. This is a perfect choice, because the mass influence of Barbie dolls in a young person’s life cannot be denied. They stress an ideal of beauty that, in most subtle ways, engrains itself in a young person’s mind. Haynes is not criticizing the dolls themselves so much as presenting the ideal beauty that they support and showing how naïve adherence to such a mindset can drive certain among us on a hellish downward slope. Using a popular entertainer as the central character further imbues the story with tragedy, for it plays on the false innocence that the media builds up around its celebrities and exposes the humanity beneath. Using the cheeriness of the Carpenters’ songs as juxtaposition, Haynes also relates the confusion of an era – video images of Nixon in office and the Vietnam conflict add political resonance, while reflective tracking shots of a suburban neighborhood remind us that there are stories behind each and every door. Karen’s is merely one in several billion.
Of all of the films currently in the Bootleg Files, this is the least likely to emerge any time in the near future. At least not until Richard Carpenter and the Mattel Corp. either obtain unusually generous senses of humor or expire from the face of the Earth. Until such time, the bootleg orbit is the only place where poor little Barbie-Karen can starve herself into pop star Heaven while warbling "I'm on the top of the world, looking down at the creation..."