Your Feminism is Squishing my Feminism

While I’ll save the intellectual, well-thought out important debate to my older sister, I still have a slight complaint with the world I live in and their political correctness.

I’m not going to debate, I don’t want to discuss politics. I’m the one that turns and runs with my fingers in my ears when someone wants to discuss who should be in charge of what, and why this law is bad, etc. etc. I prefer my world in which I act according to my conscience and walk with God in every day situations.

But…

Take me, the cross between high-school and college student right now. First off, I do want to add a disclaimer on my upcoming complaints and say that, yes, I’m actually highly enjoying Art Appreciation. In general, I love my no-nonsense teacher, and she likes how engaged I am in the class. We get along capitally.

So, we begin to study women in art. And then we sidetrack and study some women and their rights, Victorian all the way to present. Still somewhat relevant – no one is complaining.

My first problem:download.jpeg

In general, the expected consensus is that we are all supposed to agree that women were terribly abused in their rights, (Need to emphasize the upper-class, here. Not necessarily talking about the working-class women) practically forced to wear corsets, stay in the home, forced to have children (le gasp!), forced to be religious and pure (double le gasp!!), and forced to obey their husbands (triple le gasp! Pardon me if I faint dead away).

In further discussion, the textbook and my instructor would have us believe that while the women were forced to stay home while society thought it was totally okay if men went away into the houses of prostitutes all the time. “Nobody cared what [the husbands] did” (- actaul quote from my teacher). But oh no, those poor women… they had to stay home and couldn’t go the prostitute’s…wait, what are we even talking about again?

I’m kind of confused at this point. My art-turned -history teacher now is wanting me to first accept that all married upper-class men force their wives to stay at home with the kids while they go gallivanting off to clubs and prostitute’s homes all the time. And yet she also wants me to shake my fist and say it’s not fair that the women can’t go… too…?

Like I mentioned before, I do get that it’s a little stupid that women couldn’t go out (couldn’t, aka, where looked down on if they did) to cafe’s, public places, etc. But please. Are we really taking it to how it’s not fair that the wife and husband can’t go cheat on each other equally? Why are we making a point about how couples should be sexually independent of each other instead of say… why maybe prostitution is a bad thing…?

These poor male fellows in this class are twiddling their thumbs, biting their lips, and staring at their desks while us girls are supposed to rally and pump our firsts in the air about the injustice of it all.

 

My Second Problem:

Besides the expected “tisk tisk” from me about how it’s not fair that women couldn’t act foolishly like “all” men did (really. you’re going to say that all of the husbands did this? Not one of them didn’t visit prostitutes and stayed loyal?) I’m also supposed to sigh in sadness at the art of the women in the homes with kids.

I mean… isn’t this the most tragic thing you’ve ever seen?

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Let me tell you a side-story, which is the first thing I thought off when shown a picture (similar the the above) and told to sigh in sadness about it.

I was visiting a school, talking to an AP US History class teacher, trying to decide if I should take the class there. I asked what we studied. He pointed happily at his textbook: “Only this! That’s it, and you get the score!”

Okay, I guess he wasn’t understanding me. I inquired further,

“Like, what historical documents and stuff to you study? Or American Literature and such?”

“Pffft! We don’t do that! I want you do have a life!”

Ouch. Apparently, don’t have a life. He completely misunderstood what my questions even meant. Apparently this gal doesn’t have a life if I want to read…like…actual history documents and such?

This was the same sort of effect that this Art Appreciation class has had on me.

“See these women?”

“Yes…”

“They have to obey their husbands. ”

“So?”

“They stay at home.”

“And?”

“They raise their kids!!! “

“…”

“Isn’t that just awful?? They aren’t allowed to have a life!”

“Well. I guess I don’t want a life. I’ll be seeing you. I’ll just convert to an abused woman and stay crumbled in agony in the house married to a dishonest husband who leaves every night and surrounded by wailing children I must teach to read and play the piano. Because that’s not a real life. By doing all those abused women-y things, I’m no feminist.”

There were problems. I’d like to vote. I’d also like to not where a corset. I’d like the freedom to go swing dancing, walk downtown with friends, etc. I have those freedoms now. And I do want women who want careers to be able to go get them. My sister (I swear) is going to be the most awesome and obnoxious first-lady someday or something.

I’m not informed enough to know if there are still problems in the light that there were a hundred and ten years ago. I’d argue that the inequality of today comes from the general acceptance of pornography, gentleman’s clubs (I hate driving through West Virginia and Missouri and a local street in my home-town), and the stripped down celebrities like Lady Gaga who seem to abuse my privacy and do more damage to women identity then all those  men who apparently underpay us.

But that is a discussion I’m not really qualified to argue about.

For now, excuse me while I crawl into my anti-feminist role of getting married and raising kids at home.

By the way Art class, your feminism is sticking out its tongue a little rudely at my feminism and calling it the problem. I’m not sure that’s really fair.

-CJ Jean

 

 

 

Childhood Reflections-Letting go and Thankfulness

I’ve fulfilled a childhood dream this year. 

I went to Salzburg, Austria and did the Sound of Music Tour. I ran along the little roads Julie Andrews did, ran across the Do-Re-Mi bridge, ran up the steps pointing upward, and felt completely and utterly like a child again. When I tried to explain it to me, the closest I could get was saying, “It was like a city where I just walked through my childhood again.”
My mom put on the soundtrack in the car unannounced once and I broke down sobbing. I’ve watched the movie again recently and cried sporadically nearly the whole time. I had done it. I had never thought I would and yet it had happened. I had touched my childhood again and it was forever stamped on my heart.

I’ve noticed an seemingly odd theme that has constantly been reoccurring this year for me. It’s been just the past month where I’ve realized this isn’t just a coincidence, and as my life is unexpectedly taking turns I wasn’t looking for, God has been bringing up my lovely childhood and reminding me of what in my past and lead me to be who I am today.
I’ve recently been so focused on the future and only the immediate past. As a high school student frantically finishing up my last year, working part-time, and figuring out my plans for college, I’m guessing this is actually a pretty common thing. The ‘future’ is all that is discussed, all that people want to know about, and that deep dark hole that I, alongside with other young adults, are peering down into with wide-eyes.

 

Earlier today, our house glowing with our old Christmas decorations, my family watched some home videos. They were from a Christmas twelve years ago, half a dozen kids all under the age 13 were running around, gasping at decorations, opening presents, running back and forth between a newly opened gift and hugging my parents saying ‘thank you’ (we never really did the Santa Clause thing).

In our home videos, there’s a random clip around the Christmas season of my parents filming six-year-old me, asleep and curled up on the couch next to the sparkling Christmas tree. For some reason, it was a punch to the gut and I felt six years old again. I did that for so many years. I’d sleep next to the tree, and I remember one magical night where I went to sleep underneath it, hearing some electric spinning ornaments, and seeing the lights dancing between the (plastic) needles. I wanted to do that again, I wanted to play those imaginary long-running games/stories where I’d be a princess and I sneak around the house and play-act it and hoped nobody would see. I used to crawl into closets and close my eyes, praying and asking God if I could go to Narnia. I used to climb up trees as the sun was setting and sing (thinking no one could hear me) songs from Annie. I’d trot around the basement with my siblings and play ‘town’ (named Musicville). We’d organize and play week-long games with our stuffed animals to the music of Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, and Vivaldi. Runaway Castle was a pre-planned game with the same character out on our playset, tents out of sheets and fighting our evil royal relatives who would try to poison us. We had swords and fought our couch, pretending it was a monster. The trampoline was once Rivendell and the playset transformed into Helms Deep-tomato cages became orcs.
Even with the constant messy tangled hair, a million little siblings, difficult financial times,  and a couple years where I would cry multiple times a day,  I had my absurd romantic mind (…maybe I still do), optimism, slight bossiness, and a extremely affectionate nature (I couldn’t stand it when people were upset), all of which, to some extent, carried onto who I am today.

 

This Christmas season has only just begun, and has been painful. It hasn’t just been realizing I’ll be leaving for college or a job (or both) very soon. My life is taking a dramatic turn I hadn’t foreseen, circumstances I can’t really go into on this blog. But it’s hit me this year, that this isn’t going to last. True, childhood had already pretty much ended for me. But my siblings and I have still managed to all sleep together on Christmas eve, and go down the stairs to find our tree. We decorate cookies, play silly games, eat cereal,  and forget that half of us are now at least teenagers (or twenty-somethings). This could be the last year this happens like this.
I don’t know what is going to happen or when, but I’ve been reminded of how precious my life has been thus far, how wonderful my parents, and loyal my siblings, how beautiful the weird traditions that have been invented, and the million inside jokes. I’m going to have to leave this home at some point, and seek out another. My parents have spent over twenty years of their lives building a home, with beautiful relationships, safety, memories, and a devoted loyalty. Somehow, I have to figure out how to build something similar. It was so easy to take the safe world my parents built around me for granted. Somehow, I’ll have to build another one for myself and others. I don’t know how they’ve done it. I didn’t realize how short a time I’ve been able to rest within it.

When I was little, Mom would put up a star on the wall if I managed not to cry all day long. I would sit with my ear pressed against the speakers when music was playing. In violin group recitals, I got bored with some songs and played the advanced part to things even though I wasn’t supposed to and had never officially been taught it.
Narnia, Ralf Moody, the Lord of the Rings. Classical Music, Disney, Bambi, Annie, Beauty and the Beast, Veggie Tales, Liberty’s Kids, Clifford. Walks to the park, adventures in the yard, learning to swim, throwing rocks at my best friend’s brothers from their treehouse, playing overly dramatic and romantic games, fictional crush on Prince Caspian, my dog dying, my family moving, my first real understanding of Jesus and understanding what it meant to follow Him. K-Love and Christian music. Developing love of music. My first *actual* crush. Writing my first novel, learning the cello, having more friends. Moving across the nation. God teaching me hard lessons and pushing me to make painful decisions against the crowd. Doctor Who. Giving up my crush…because I was only 14 and I was being ridiculous.
and somehow, whether with High School, or my first job, or hard things my family went through, (or all of the above) I stumbled out into being an adult.

This Thanksgiving and Christmas season, I’m overflowing with gratitude for my parents and family, now that I’m gradually drifting away and will have to eventually step permanently out of the front door. It’s something I can’t express. I’m basking this year in memories and the feelings of childhood. The home videos help. Having been in Salzburg fulfilled a part of my longing I didn’t know really existed or could be fulfilled. Maybe I learned I can still be a child when I’m away from home…maybe I’ve learned these memories can come with me when I move out and begin building my own home. Maybe I learned about the priceless preciousness of it all.

Somehow, in weirdly happy and nostalgic tears, I’m learning how to both let go, and treasure an indescribable beauty of my childhood.

Further up, and further in,

_CJ Jean

The 1940’s Fashion Experiment

Allow for a blog post on a random experiment.

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I like the 1940’s, okay? The music, the poofy skirts, the eyeliner, the bright red lipstick, the high heels (I can’t wear for the life of me), and of course the hair…

Like any gal, I don’t mind spending some time looking nice. But I don’t like applying makeup every day, blow drying my hair and curling if I can help it. If I’m not going anywhere, I won’t dress like it. And when I am, I do the minimal amount of work to look presentable, because I’m lazy like that. Besides. I tend to look decent in a tight pony-tail, so why bother doing anything else?

But what if I could get away with a style that’s not really around anymore…yet…I love it?

That’s right.

Enter 1940’s hair experiment.

Curled with fingers and pinned tightly while wet. Wrapped in bandana and slept overnight (slightly uncomfortably, but I was struck with a sudden determination and I fell through with it)

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Next morning:

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Letting it down

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As you can tell from my slightly discomforted face in the above, it wasn’t turning out quite like I had wanted it to. I had curled it probably too hastily the night before, and it was more ‘crinkled’ than ‘curly’. As I let down each little bunch of hair, I was needing to re-curl it with a curling iron, which I was not happy about. Because I’m an impatient person, and standing with a hot stick next to your head while you stare at your reflection and breathe is just awkward, okay?  Even when you are alone in the bathroom.

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And I’m just about done. Much re-curling, lots of hairspray, and combing out gunk I had applied the night before that turned out useless. Oh well.

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A few awkward shots, because I hate taking selfies. I just do. I whined the whole time, my brother could tell you.

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By the end of the day, without much care throughout, it still looked decent

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But this is the coolest part to me:

I went out like this, got bewildered looks from my coworkers and managers. What I didn’t get was teasing (even in a friendly way) about how I looked like I was from the 40’s. Instead I got compliments. The style and fashion is likely familiar, and yet, not seen in a light that makes it weird to wear in today’s world.

This is so great to me, because personally, I dislike the modern fashion(s) and I love that I live in a country in which I can do things like this.

I love mid 1900’s American History, especially the music and style. And for some reason, it fits me perfectly. Yesterday taught me to be a bit more confident, and that there’s nothing wrong when you enter the world with your own personal style… even if I maybe stole it from Peggy Carter and Vera Lynn. I don’t think anyone caught on…

-CJ Jean

 

Whitney Houston

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What I’m not going to do, is talk extensively about Whitney Houston’s tragic death and the decline in her vocal talent due to drug abuse. I remember hearing about her on the news at my grandparents house from several years back when I had no notion of who she even was.

It was when my appreciation and interest in music began developing when I first suddenly fell in love with a song Whitney Houston did when Mariah Carey from The Prince of Egypt soundtrack I listened to when I was little, When You BelieveIronically, I always skipped the track when I was very young, and used to make fun of the style with my siblings, naively unaware of the extreme talent behind it. It was only about three years ago I was suddenly struck with the vibrant color of Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey’s voices and the control they possessed over every single note.

Until a couple months ago, I had only continued to listen to When You Believe  in passing, without too much exploration behind the vocalists. Recently I stumbled upon Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You and was completely blown away. I’ll only be echoing articles and news reports written in that time if I go into how incredible it was for her to go into that song with no instrumentation and stay completely in control of her voice. (Granted, she did have perfect pitch. I’m jealous)

In a way that I find so incredibly annoying, I keep coming across musicians, genres, and vocalists that are extremely well known to my parents and others with ten or twenty more years in their life that I have. This may be another rant for another time, but I hate how quickly my generation has been to cast off any musician more than ten years old and move on to whatever is new every year or two. The past six months, my heart and soul has felt almost entirely submerged in sound of music ranging from the 1940’s to the 80’s and 90’s, and I wish that these musical styles and artists had more grip on my generation than they do, when their talent is so often greatly beyond any sounds of Taylor Swift or Bruno Mars.

Whitney grew up in a heavily gospel church, and sang with her mother in the church, and began performing alongside her in her early teen years. She worked as a model and was one of the first African-Americans to appear on the cover of Seventeen and also worked as backup vocalist for Chaka Khan and Lou Rawls at the age of fifteen.

Perhaps it’s partly from my never-ending fascination with the Civil Rights Movement in the mid to late twentieth century, but part of my interest in Whitney Houston’s life is the fact that she is the child of the movement. Racial tensions were far from over, but she was one of the first widely accepted African-American singers. In many ways, she was the generation that her parents had been fighting for. She maintained her fame and acceptance in society from the early 80’s all the way to her shocking death in 2012.

Her voice and talent was often called the voice (no, not the television program) and she was widely praised for using her voice like a cherished instrument. Perfect pitch and ranging five octaves, Whitney Houston maintained complete control every every pitch and syllable she sang.

Josh Groban maybe has met his match in my little world of vocalists and musicians. He too, is incredible, and one of my greatest imaginings is what it would be like if he and Whitney Houston had had the chance to sing a duet together.

It’s actually quite a sad blow for me to only discover this amazing woman and her talent after she passed. I’m nearly positive I was born at least twenty years too late.

-CJ Jean

The Phantom of the Opera

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“The Phantom of the Opera is knows as the most successful piece of entertainment of all time. 130 million people have seen it.” –CBS News

About this time last year, I discovered the captivating beauty of soundtrack of The Phantom of the Opera. While many are critical of the movie released in 2004, for someone who hasn’t had the advantage of seeing it on Broadway, I highly enjoyed the film and the music. Of course, Broadway’s singers are far more advanced than the casting of those in films, and I do hope to someday see it.

Funny how such a dark story (though, for someone who enjoys analyzing stories and characters, it’s extremely deep) can carry such beauty in it’s music as it works to represent the characters and their development.  In an interview with CBS on the 25th Anniversary of Phantom of the Opera Andrew Llyod Webber talks about his motivation and way he composes. As he tries to convey his source of inspiration, he tells CBS, “I find it very difficult to write about a character I don’t care about.”.

I simply enjoyed the sound and feeling from soundtrack, recognizing the uniqueness in style, mixing electronic aspects with an ominous organ, and backed by a more classically bent orchestra. I hadn’t ever heard anything like this, and once I took it to my piano, playing some of it by ear, some with the guidance of chord charts and sheet music, I fell in love with the brilliance of the minor tone, diminished 7ths (always a fan), and how skillfully Andrew Lloyd Webber bounced back and forth between major and minor keys to fit with the mood of the situation and characters.wishing-you-were-somehow-here-again

A great example of the brilliance in use of both major and minor keys, is in Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again. (Perhaps it’s bias with the nostalgia I gained from the movie (my first experience with the story) but I do prefer the cleaner and younger sound of the of the 2004 film with Emmy Rossum as Christine.)

I realize that in most filmscores (or any song for that matter) usually uses major and minor keys to reflect the mood of the characters, but The Phantom of the Opera seems to use the two as a clashing of two realities in Christine’s mind, as she tries to distinguish between what is true and what isn’t. In Wandering Child it begins in a beautiful major key, the melody soaring as Christine believe’s she’s discovered truth. Once she’s convinced and captured back into the Phantom’s reality, the mood drops like a rock back into darkness and she’s again under the control of the phantom. Similarly, (only reversed) in All I Ask of You the song begins in a minor key, and is straining as Raoul pulls Christine away from the darkness and fear (induced by the Phantom) and the melody falls back into a major (and much happier) key and she’s again redirected toward beauty and light. (Yay Raoul!)

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An interested reoccurrence in the music tendencies I find, is how the Phantom himself uses a brighter, more beautiful style of music when he’s working to capture Christine; so much so, I would probably go so far as to claim that the Phantom himself is inspired by Christine’s purity to the point where his music is a reflection of what he sees in Christine. The contrast to this, would be how once he’s successful in getting her at least partially on his side, the music turns dark; a sort of parallel on how you can’t rely on the purity of others to sanctify yourself. You may feel better about yourself when you’re around someone who is pure, but you aren’t automatically changed by them.

The Phantom of the Opera has always taken me on heart-soaring journeys and shuddering moments of how well darkness and villainy can be captured in music. The story concepts themselves could take up many blog posts (one for each character, no doubt!) but the musical concept I appreciate most about this composition is how well conflict is captured in characters, situations, and the different themes throughout. Raoul constantly tries to coax light out of Christine and turn away the darkness, Christine is struggling in the tangled mess of the Phantom’s beautiful and dangerous music, and the Phantom is wrestling in his own darkness, partially conflicted by the light he sees in Christine, and wrongly tries to make her convert ‘to the dark side’ (pardon the Star Wars reference) in an attempt to redeem himself.

When I step away from everything I could go into, I realize part of the reason I just love this musical in it’s rawest forms. It’s a musical, with amazing music, about music. The story itself is honestly aware of beauty and danger involved in music. How could it get better than that?

-CJ Jean

 

PS. Also, let’s just appreciate Josh Groban for a moment, k?

 

A Worthy Investment

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Five countries, eight cities (with a few smaller towns scattered in between), countless train rides and stations, in just over 30 days. I hardly feel like counting this past week, since much of what’s happened is the halfhearted conversations between me and my sister about how we don’t *really* feel like doing anything. We started in Paris, this is where it ends, and I feel both like I’ve seen it all, and seen nothing.

Had I been told a year ago I would have traveled Europe for all of August, I’m not positive I really would have believed it. In between a summer and fall study program my sister is doing in France, we had August open up as a blank book we could scratch in adventures. I can’t write all that happened up in one blog post, so it’ll will simply bend and sway to my will. A post per city. Per country. Per event. That night we were stuck in a McDonald’s in Berlin. That time I was half-blind and had to be led by my determined older sister across Florence.

I feel my stomach clench at the memories of some of the most stressful moments. My heart feels bright and full when I remember walking down a shady path in Salzburg, Austria looking off across the mountains. I walked through childhood dreams and discovered how big and small the world actually is.

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The Czech Republic is a jewel I didn’t know existed. Vienna is a city whose existence seems to be a representation of everything I love most. If I could, I’d retire to live in Salzburg. Rome is completely packed with history I can’t even begin to explore. Berlin was called the Controversial City by our tour guide, and everything there supported the claim. The Eiffel tower became a friendly sight through the train window. Halfway through the trip I wondered what I was going to do with myself after going home. What more could I even want to see? Now, at the end, my flight out tomorrow, I realize how I’ve only scratched the surface.

There is the more practical side, of course. My sister and I went by the cheapest route possible while still staying safe. I’ve been working hard to save money for this sort of thing, and yet I’m still cringing, afraid of looking at my bank account when I get back. But I have only to look at the pictures, watch a few videos of those precious sights, and hilarious moments with my sister and friends that we met up with in the middle, and realize this has quite possibly been one of the most worthwhile investments of my life.

What a rocky introduction. Or conclusion. More stories are to come, and will probably be all written within the next few days at the hands of a girl who is avoiding the beginning of a final year in high school, and suffering from traveling hangover.

I have my last day in Paris to enjoy. One final trip to see the Eiffel tower lit up in the evening. Perhaps a third croissant to find and eat today as well…

-CJ Jean

 

 

Wicked

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I tried for several subtitles for my take of Broadway’s Wicked, but I kept coming up with several different angles from which I could approach messages hidden within this fascinating story.

Once called ‘fan-fiction’ by a siblings to which I was describing what Wicked was, this story is basically the Wizard of Oz from a different perspective. While by definition, it *is* fan-fiction, it’s not that crazed teenage written story about Loki (Thor), or Edward (Twilight) , or what else the amazing ‘wanna be’  young author (in a stage at which the recent fandom has consumed every fiber of their being) tries to write.

Written originally by Gregory Maguire in 1995, it was discovered by composer Stephen Schwartz and after a few obstacles, found its way on stage, and eventually Broadway.

Listening to the music won’t give you the entire story, and I ultimately turned to Wikipedia for a story outline to fully understand what all happens-so I’d recommend either starting with that, or at least eventually turning to it.

But to veer away from the particulars of Wicked‘s invention and rise onto Broadway, the story in itself is full of many different themes intertwined and set to music that is both captivating and sometimes oddly uplifting. The style wasn’t what I was expecting to enjoy, but it didn’t take long to win me over (especially with those beautiful fully-diminished 7th chords in “As Long As You’re Mine”).

 

Best Friends Forever

The ultimate theme that is noticeable by every listener who is paying the slightest bit attention is that of friendship. Of course we see Glinda and Elphaba begin their acquaintance with hating…or rather…an ‘unadulterated loathing’ of one another. Polar opposites, they both have similar shortcomings that they gradually overcome.

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Rejected by society, Elphaba turns to pride and puts herself above everyone else and shuts out anyone who may try to reach out, and most definitely refusing to reach out to an
yone else.

Glinda, who is more than accepted by society, turns to possibly some pride as well, but the main trait we see is vanity. More concerned about what others thing, rather than her opinion of herself, the flaunts on the crowds perfectly content with a simple, nearly purposeless life.

Glinda, possibly moved by both compassion and vanity in her girly way, offers to help Elphaba in the only way she knows how-by trying to make her ‘Popular’. In return, Elphaba hesitantly allows this girl into her life. A friendship blooms, though awkward at the beginning, and with conflicts along the way involving opposing ideas and of course, the same love interest-which always makes life complicated in these stories.

 

(At this point, I’ve realized that the recommend blog post length-500 words-is just going to be ignored today.)

Society and Politics 

I could easily divide these two up and go into more detail, but for the most part, they do go hand-in-hand. By how those in political power (society quickly following suit)  label Elphaba as “wicked”, and Glinda as “good”, the story itself unfolds as a result of their 88e87ed80506f13e7e218bb83d0e57ddgiven titles-whether based on real moral grounds or not. Elphaba is herded into a direction that at one point, makes her accept that she really is wicked, (“No Good Deed”). Glinda is fed with the false idea that she’s perfect, which makes life taste bitter when she discoveres gradually that this isn’t true. Possibly the best part of the play is watching these two girls deal with opposite problems, and work to discover the truth of their situation. Elphie isn’t wicked, and Glinda is not perfect.

(Please permit a slight rabbit trail: over and over again, after reading C.S. Lewis’s “Till We Have Faces” I see how stories are so often a reflection of how each of us is struggling to see our own face, who we truly are. A beautiful mess-though unconditionally loved by God. Wicked is yet another example of characters struggling to understand what it means to be who they are)

While this is almost  grotesquely simplified, especially since I’ve cut discussing so many other characters, I feel like even the little I’ve said reflects on history, and even our world today. Those in charge have an influences over what get’s passed down as truths or lies as history. (Can’t help thinking of “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story” from Hamilton) I remember studying how some ancient civilizations would overrun other kingdoms, regions, whatnot, and try to eliminate the conquered people’s culture, ideas, beliefs, etc. How in our news today, events and are so easily masked or shaped into something else.  We are so easily bent in a direction when we’re told what to believe, what to think, who to stand for or against. Wicked perhaps captures a truth we don’t like facing. Not everyone’s story gets told.

 

The Cost of Being Good

You’re not always called a hero…even when the story is over. Elphaba certainly almost never was, but by those who maybe knew the whole story and knew *her*.

Tour022202Perhaps one of the most relatable characters I’ve known,  Elphaba flies back and forth between embracing to be what society labels her as, and flying against it and struggling to do the right thing.  That said, Elphaba isn’t what I’d call my role mode…and yet her story is also inspiring.

Her life one long string of bad luck, and yet, with everything she faces, so does stumble forward and tries to do the right thing over and over again-fighting the rest of the world, along with struggling with conflicts with the relationship with her only two friends, and her family’s betrayal.

Being in a Christian Homeschool community all my life, it’s more that likely that Wicked has been avoided because of the obvious title and… well… yeah, debatable use of magic and witches aren’t exactly my cup of tea either. (The magic I could defend as okay, because in many ways, it is shows as a bad thing. Elphaba keeps trying to use it, and it bites her back. It could be compared to Lucy’s attempt at using magic in “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” and it ultimately hurting her…though Wicked would be catered toward more mature audiences than is Narnia. Yeah kids, don’t play around with magic. It’s a bad idea.)

 

 

These three great story elements (not even touching on half of them), and yet the music. Oh, the music.

Defying Gravity has you sailing through the sky, What Is This Feeling? is the song I sing back and forth with my little sister while we cook dinner, As Long As You’re Mine  is perhaps debatable in suggested content , but in musical brilliance, it’s irresistible to pound out those genius chords on the piano.

For Good is *the* song though, if I had to choose. It is, after all, the only one out of all of these that made, and makes me cry. The real beauty of the story is wrapped up in that gorgeous duet, when those two hurting and struggling girls finally see their faces.

 

What an emotional roller-coaster. Ideas about true identity as a person, life, friendship, love, and society are presented in the swirl of struggles, characters, the story, and the music.  Maybe witches aren’t your thing either…or maybe you hated The Wizard of Oz. Wicked is worth a shot though, and you’ve no idea how I bitterly regret not spending that hundred bucks to see it when it was nearby on tour. If it ever comes to town again, there’s not even a question on whether I’m going.  I’d be packing up for one short day in that emerald theater. 😉

 

~CJ Jean