In Joan Rivers new documentary, despite the over-arching theme of her heroic battle to maintain eroding celebrity, she talks a lot about being chosen. Yes, this works in contrast with the theme, because although as audience members we are asked to feel sorry for her because she is aging, and has been somewhat cast aside, the images that we are shown are of her affluence, her heightened privilege. She especially kills her bid for sympathy when she on several occasions, publicly declares that she is “so chosen.” I think this is a reference to the Jewish concept of being the chosen ones, a concept that does not evade supremacist ideology and one of which, I am not a fan.
I had trouble with this sentiment and i did not feel sorry for Joan, still I found her to be funny in an off way and I enjoyed the film. It was one of the few that I caught this year at the Provincetown International Film Festival. Kevin Smith was being honored as Director on the edge, so he was in attendance along with Tilda Swinton and the directing team behind the Celluloid Closet and several other queer history greats including Word is Out.
It was fun hearing Smith talk as I have long been a fan of his New Jersey cult classics. He produced a film, that also screened at the festival called Bear Nation. A film about the bear community among Gay men. A great topic, but the film, however, was not a cinematic masterpiece.
Anyway, the thing which brought me to remember Joan Rivers comments on being chosen, were my thoughts at the beginning of this post and at the end of these two weeks about being blessed. Blesssed I’m afraid is as problematic a word as chosen in this context. I feel lucky at this moment, I’d say I feel blessed but that takes on a very similar religious tone to chosen and I’d rather leave all of that out of this.
What I mean to say is, I feel honored to have sat crouched down on the floor in the penthouse balcony of a very tall hotel next to Lou Reed and AM Holmes, Anthony (from he and the Johnsons) and the esteemed photographer who took the below picture, at the foot of Laurie Anderson while she played us a song off her new album Homeland. Using her voice disguiser, she performed in the character of her drag alter ego. The whole scene was brilliant and I just sat there, in awed silence, not quite sure if i belonged. Belong or not, I was invited in.
Rather than walking out feeling chosen or blessed, I felt grateful and went home to Brooklyn.