Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday Dance Party: Pink Stinks

This week's Dance Party is inspired, in part, by an interesting article from today's Washington Post. 

In the wake of the Komen public relations debacle, the writer examines the development of what might be called the "Pink Movement."  She wonders, with some justification, what benefit the fight against breast cancer gets from its adoption of the pleasantly soothing color pink.  Its non-threatening hue, which has become somewhat synonymous with breast cancer, may have done the fight a disservice. 

The color is demur, understated, and often sexy, and may have contributed to the disease becoming an accepted part of the modern landscape, rather than illustrating the harsh reality of the disease.

Having lost my mother to breast cancer many years ago, I'm not sure how I feel about this writer's comments, but I applaud the dialogue.  I do not, however, applaud the color itself.  I hate pink, always have.

But the color led me to the discovery of this week's clip.

Today's star is not well-known these days, and her appearances on screen were not very numerous.  But Kay Thompson was an influential presence behind the scenes during the heyday of the musical film. 

She was an expert musical arranger and vocal coach, and she became an important cog in the Arthur Freed Movie Making Machine, which churned out many of the classic MGM musicals;  most of the stars of the day benefited from Kay's guidance. 
Judy Garland in particular became a close friend, a relationship which extended to Liza as well.  In fact, it was Minnelli's concert devoted to her godmother Kay Thompson which brought her to my attention several years ago.

Kay is probably best remembered by the general public as the creator of the Eloise at the Plaza series of children's books. 
Thompson lived at the Plaza for a number of years, and it's suggested that her pint-sized heroine was partially inspired by Liza Minnelli's childhood antics. 

But not to worry, this week's Dance Party does not come from one of those stories.  Instead, it comes from the film musical Funny Face (that flick, BTW, furnished another clip a few months ago, and it's worth watching again, just to see Audrey Hepburn move in a manner I've never seen from that graceful star).  Thompson was making one of her occasional appearances in front of the camera, playing a fashion designer.  This song, all about my least favorite color, illustrates that pink has long been associated with the female of the species, meant to suggest a fashionable cheerfulness and acceptance;  it seems at odds with the movement which has adopted it as their defining motif.