Mariah seems to be one of those celebs that folks love to hate.
I don’t doubt that at least a twinge of it is straight up jealous-hate: she’s got what others want.
Some is genre-related: she’s stuck to the pop charts since day one, and some folks are stubbornly against anything that the “mainstream” likes.
Some folks hate on the drama: we all remember the “meltdown”/exhaustion fiasco.
I can’t properly explain how devoted her fans are, but if you are one – you know. I’m a fan, albeit one that can see her flaws, and I still take it personally when people talk out of their necks about her. My sister is much closer to superfan status (though she too still has her feet on the ground and is not rallying for MC sainthood).
There are a lot of misconceptions about Mariah, and then there’s diva stuff that she’s actually done, and I think some folks get it twisted. One thing folks love to lay at her door is the claim that she’s been ambiguous about her racial background, or that she’s sometimey when claiming black heritage.
I remember when ‘Vision of Love‘ came out. It was my favorite song, and I knew I loved whoever sang it. I remember the first time I saw her on tv and I thought – she’s white??? And I remember reading an article not too long after that where she described her background: a white (Irish) mother and a black (Afro-Venezuelan) father.
‘Just like me’, I thought. Only, my dad’s African-American, my parents were together at the time, and she could totally pass and I never could. But I sing. She sings. It was official. She was my role-model.
Then she had that fairy-tale wedding…to an old dude. I wasn’t into that, but her music was still awesome, and so I rolled with it.
With Butterfly (still my fave album), she made her break with Mottola. Hip-hop wangled its way further into her music, and I could see what was happening.
That’s when the great chasm started. (Here’s where I go into full conspiracy-theory mode. Half tongue-in-cheek, half things-that-make-you-go-hmm. Take it or leave it, I just blog.)
Casual listeners weren’t really aware of Carey’s background. We all know she is light-skinned(ed). [you know you know somebody who says that] But some folks just thought she was white. They heard her ballads, and her fun songs and loved her. And then some guy named ODB was featured on MC’s hit – ‘Fantasy‘.
Me ‘n’ Mariah – go back like babies n pacifiers – old dirt dog no liar – keep your fantasy hot like fire…
Who was that black man? None other than a founding member of the Wu Tang Clan. A rapper? Oh NO! White people were very uncomfortable with this. This was during a time when rap was ONLY played on black radio stations. In my town, TLC was played on the top40 station, when ‘Waterfalls’ (1994) became a hit. But Left-Eye’s rap was edited out. In fact, it wasn’t until somewhere around 2000 that they would play the complete song. 6 years later. So you know they weren’t gonna play a rap by a man called “Ol’ Dirty Bastard” in 1995.
That was just one song, tho. Until Butterfly. The questions flew. Just what was ‘Honey’ a euphemism for? Why two remixes with all those rappers? Why was she leaving that old white dude?
By Rainbow, she was wearing a lot less clothing and hanging out with a lot more rappers. Her adult-contemporary/easy-listening/hip-hop-averse fans were severing ties. And still she gained popularity, and fans.
Fans knew who she was and where she was coming from, from day one. Those who got on board a little later figured out what she was talking about in songs like ‘Outside’ and ‘Looking In’. Not to mention, folks continually acting like they don’t know, so she keeps on telling them.
Sandra Bernhard decided to call out MC for only being black when it was ‘convenient’. (Perhaps I should try polling some folks to find out just when being black is convenient.) But it turned out she was one of those people who didn’t have their facts straight. Oh. And she was racist. (scroll down to comment #9 to see what she actually said)
Theories abound about how TM was tailoring Mariah’s look and sound to make her the great white hope of the music industry. Even album covers minimized the slight brown-ness she can get with a tan. (Exceptions: Mariah Carey and MTV Unplugged). And none of us can deny that the initial mass-market appeal helped push her success to the heights that she’s achieved. (That and the songs ‘Hero’ and ‘One Sweet Day’ – which I no longer listen to.)
So. I know I’m not changing anybody’s mind about MC. And I know she’s divalicious when it comes to her ‘good side’, and her humidifier. I know she does weird stuff like calling fans ‘lambs’ and making a ‘Hello Kitty’ room.
But I don’t know if she’s really married to Nick Cannon. I hope not. I don’t want her to be (no hate for NC, just not into the decision). But it seems that she’s canceled her appearance on The View next week, so I’m not sure.
What I know is that I’ve got E=MC(squared) and I am all ready for ‘Migrate‘ to drop.