Out Here On Our Own
After the death of Irene Cara, I did some digging. What I found both enraged me and pushed me to keep going, never mind the endless headwinds of aging womanhood.
Like many Gen-X women weaned on Fame and Flashdance, I was saddened by the recent death1 of our collective idol, Irene Cara. I was also suddenly baffled as to why we hadn’t heard from her in years, as well as ashamed at having done no digging, until the news of her death, to find out why. It felt like another Melissa Bank moment all over again, and only months after that author’s untimely death. Two of our brilliant, outspoken, and talented goddesses, both gone too soon. Both already erased from public consciousness years before their final breaths.
Then there was the Sinéad O’Connor documentary, Nothing Compares, which I caught two weeks ago. I was horrified by the way O’Connor was vilified in the press, mocked by Madonna, and turned into a one-note joke when all she wanted was to use her mellifluous, multi-note voice and substantial platform to inform the world that the Catholic church was abusing children.
Why? Why does this vilification of insanely talented women artists, followed by their erasure in middle age—along with the dire financial consequences thereof—keep happening to our cohort, but especially to those who are strong and intelligent and dare to speak out against corruption and the status quo (the entire point of good art, really), while their aging male counterparts (think Mick Jagger, the late Philip Roth, Robert Redford, etc.) are still revered in the press and get to keep on working and earning excellent livings until their dying days?
In my sadness, confusion, and desire to get to the bottom of Cara’s plight, I did what I always do: I dug beyond the headlines and incomplete, snarky obituaries reported by the male-owned, male-controlled media and searched for primary source accounts and information.
What I found shocked me, both for its contents and for the ease with which I found it. Why hadn’t her obituary writers done the same instead of relying on several sloppily reported hit pieces in People? Why did they have to kick her when she was already dead?
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