Monday, August 29, 2005

What's in your closet? (a retro-post)

SO I MANAGED TO CATCH part of MTV's Video Music Awards last night. Chi-towners (or Chi-towners-turned-New Yorkers) were mos def representin', with appearances by Messrs. Kelly, West, Lynn (aka Common), the pop-punk band Fall Out Boy, Jeremy Piven.

Props to Mr. Robert Kelly for his brave attempt at performing two acts of his interminable and tortuous masterwork, "The Closet." The thing is part opera, part soap opera, part suspense thriller, part one-man dramatic interp. Kelly's performance was mostly or entirely lip-synched, and at times it was a head-scratcher to follow the plot twists and the multiple-character dialogue voiced by a single performer (Kelly). But he deserves an "A" for the effort, for thinking outside the box of the normal three-to-four-minute single, and for even attempting to bring such an awkward performance piece to the stage.

Kells ended the saga with a new twist: he gave the last line to Rufus. Remember, Rufus, Cathy's husband, is the pastor who, in an earlier installment, had outed himself and introduced his paramour Chuck. But at the end, here's what Rufus says to his boy toy:

"Chuck I'm sorry, but I'm going back to my wife."

And so things end, happily -- but not gayly -- ever after. Ah, just when you thought Kells was about to get all weird and perverted on us ...

When "The Closet" first came out I'm sure I wasn't the only one who wondered whether it may have been a cryptic way for the brotha to dangle some of his own sexuality issues before the public, in the guise of art. (At least the song does not allude to, erm, watersports with underage girls ... )

And speaking of closets, when VMA host Sean "Puffy" "Puff Daddy" "P. Diddy" "Diddy" Combs wasn't exhuming Biggie Smalls for the millionth time, he was spoofing his own gender identity. First, he told the audience, he was simply Sean Combs. Then, as everyone knows, he became Puffy, then Puff Daddy. But after that he took a little-publicized detour: He got Afrocentric and tried "Kunta Combs"; then he collabo'd with Kanye West, so decided to try out "Seanye West"; then he got political with the "Vote or Die" campaign, so (showing a slide of himself in drag dressed like our secretary of state): "Seandoleezza Diddy Rice." Talk about your camp!

So Diddy or didn't he? In a frickin' American's humble opinion, if Mr. "I'm Coming Out" Diddy isn't giving us a clue about his own proclivities, I don't know what he's doing.