Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Rags to Riches

So we all know that every American loves a rags to riches story. The American dream etc... where if you work hard enough you can get 2.5 kids, a good looking spouse, and two cars in the garage of your brand new house on the cul-de-sac.

Celine is certainly one of the most successful rags to riches story of our generation, so why is it that she is so hated almost as if she is a spoiled socialite (The White House State Dinner crashers anyone?) Is it because, as Wilson suggests in chapter 6, she appears so narcissistic and does not "hold back" or is it a different reason? Is it because her singing is so generic and lifeless? Why is Celine Dion a pariah and not a success story?


  1. I'm not sure that can be answered without personal opinions because in my opinion, I think she's great! Although, I do agree that she is seen in a different light from those other celebrities who came from nothing. I would agree as Carl Wilson states in chapter six, there's no personality to her music. How was she singled out as really unique? It's puzzling to me, and probably other people. What makes Celine Dion special in her music that makes you want to just surround yourself with her voice?? Is there really anything?

  2. I think that most people are taught to hate Celine. I would argue that Celine's voice is almost flawless, which scares most people. In turn, they hate. Not to mention, Celine is usually categorized in a category appealing strongly to gay men and sappy women, making it almost taboo for masculine men, alternative junkies, and feminists to support Celine Dion as an artist. It's more of an image thing to me then anything else. Although I may not like all types of music, I wouldn't call it "trash." It's just interesting to me, in general, to look at those who are able to appreciate the beauty of a voice and those who look past that, directly to the image of the person i.e. "Celine Dion."

    Then I wonder what's the difference between someone like Oprah and Celine Dion? They are both entertainers, extremely charitable, have strong images, and influenced by their managers and PR staff in general...
    So why do we criticize Celine so harshly but not Oprah?

  3. While we undoubtably love a good underdog story and Dion has lived the American Dream (despite her humble Quebec background), we do not immediately associate her with being "rags to riches" success. When I think of Celine Dion I don't actually think of her as a person, rather I think about her in turns of what she produces and represents. Its truly bizarre. All the complaints/criticisms against Dion are not directly against her, but rather her music....or that is how it seems to me at least. ( Its like how that Elliot guy couldn't hate her.... I feel like its the same with society). We don't actually think of Celine as a person, rather she is an embodiment of horrible music taste ( however right or wrong that might be!?!).

    I feel like its different with other people like Oprah, who cannot be as easily separated from what they produce/their personality (maybe because they actually have one!). So in answer to the question above, I feel like we are able to more harshly criticize Celine because its more a criticism of a the mass consumption of music, the globalization of music industry/artist, and... god forbid.... the type of music (aka over feminized sappy music!). Also, I feel like Celine Dion is such an "easy target" largely because she is a truly global commodity. Society and people have no problem belittling her because she (and "team celine") are incredibly successful in their jobs. "Celine Dion" is incredibly powerful product. It makes sense that people overreacted when Celine Dion had her freak out because it was a time when Celine Dion was seen as separate from her music/image. (at least that is how i feel about it all!)

  4. Come on, people! Why havent't you jumped on the fact that Celine is not American?!?!?!? What does in mean for us to think about her in terms of the American dream? Sheesh! Eyeballing these clumsy narrative constructions/appropriations/representations should be second nature by now. I fear that I have failed you :-(

  5. I just commented on Professor Fisher's other posting, and I feel that Celine's background as a French native really does make her stand out from everyone else. It's one thing for an American to be emotionally attached to the people of New Orleans, but another when the background and culture of a certain people is entrenched in your own being - it serves as a strong bond between her and the people of New Orleans.
    I never thought of Celine Dion as having achieved the American dream, however. When I think of Celine Dion I think of outstanding vocals and a powerful, rich, cultured woman capable of effecting millions of people through her voice. I know she is French, and don't categorize her as an America. She might appear narcissistic to some, but let's be serious - with her voice, it's almost as if she has a right to be. Not only is this intimidating, but the fact that she's not American is another unique trait about her. Most success stories we hear in terms of this American Dream are of people born and brought up in the United States. When you start looking at the immigrants and people who have made a name for themselves without that foundation of America land to start from, it's not only far more impressive, but more rare to find. Celine Dion is such a case, and I feel her success puts a lot of Americans in an uncomfortable position. Almost as if "How can she come from another country and become so successful here when I've lived here my entire life and haven't gained such acclaim?"

  6. First of all, does any one else find it disturbing that Nick described the American Dream as including "2.5" kids? Just saying...

    Anyway, one of the most interesting parts of Wilson's text, I thought, was his description on how Celine became an icon in America, and how it temporarily alienated her Quebec roots. When I think of Celine Dion, I never think about how she's Canadian. Coming from a French background with some family in Quebec, it's not like everyone in my family listens to Celine either--when I was reading the book over Thanksgiving I received several horrified looks from my family. After finishing the text, it seems the majority of Celine fans who were interviewed cited her rags to riches fortune as a source of their praise for the singer, which makes me think that people who dislike her music are focused more on the actual quality of her work,so much so that they can't sympathize with whatever struggles she may had faced in the past.

  7. Thanks Marielle, I was referring to the average children per household not something terrible!

    Responding to the question of the "American Dream", I think that many would agree that the chief export of the United States is the American Dream. We as Americans love to see foreigners move to our country and be successful because it validates our already glowing opinion about what it means to be American.

    Even though Celine is not American, we are more than happy to adopt her and take credit for her success. Another famous person who is definitely not a native American but if you ask anyone they will tell you he definitely is: Albert Einstein

  8. It's very true, Professor, that the fact that she is not American adds another complicating element to her relationship with her audience. Perhaps part of our hate for her is the fact that she's not American, yet has achieved our "Dream", and...(to sarcastically sound like conservative pundits) has hijacked it from good, hard-working, God-fearing Americans...(back to my logical self) Other international celebrities that have become ingrained in American pop culture and greatly loved, Arnold Scharzenegger for example (though perhaps a bad one for the amount of comic abuse directed towards him) challenge this view, however. These attitudes towards international celebrities, in my view, fit into a lot of our discussion and texts on "the other" - they defy an accepted binary of ours; they're not of their own nation, having succeeded in ours, yet not wholly of ours either without having been born and raised here.