Wednesday, November 14, 1990
'The Michigan Daily
by Kim Yaged
- 'M elissa Etheridge, with a voice
--so sexy she incites crescendos of
?" desire from her audiences, sings
about pain with an anger that rede-
fines bluesiness. After two albums
and extensive international touring,
she still refuses to sell out. This re-
fusal is manifest in the intensity and
fervor Etheridge continually invests
in her live show. Speaking with her
"n the phone transformed me into
one of those rapturous spectators on
whom she works her wiles.
K.Y.: I feel like I know you from
listening to your songs, would you
say that your songs are you?
M.E.: Yes, they're very autobio-
graphical, very much so, I find that
9when I write more from my personal
point of view, the more people actu-
ally can relate to it.
K.Y.: Do you see yourself as a
feminist writer or musician?
M.E.: What are feminists today, you
know, what is it? I am a woman
with a very strong feminine point of
view. I'm just a very strong woman
and I want the things for myself that
anyone can want and strive for. I
think being very powerful and strong
in oneself is very important and if
those are feminist views then, well,
I guess I am.
K.Y.: Would you say that your
views as a musician or writer are dif-
ferent from your views as a person?
M.E.: Well, I keep a lot of my
views that I have personally out of
the music. I have not done that.
There's a lot that I haven't incorpo-
rated in, sometimes. I've been trying
to lately, get in a little bit at a time,
but there's enough of a difference,
K.Y.: Do you find yourself having
to be a role model for women, or
M.E.: Not having to be, no. I find
myself in that position often,which
is a strange position, but if I handle
what I do with responsibility then
I'm sure it'll be fine.
K.Y.: How has it been getting
easier, and how has it been getting
M.E.: It's easier, certainly the
quality of life is easier nowadays.
Success has been good to me,
enough. I now have more time; I can
now concentrate one hundred percent
on what I love to do. And it's harder
'because the work is harder. It's on
such a grand scale now that it's in-
tense. It's traveling, for two and a
half years I've been travelling, it's
K.Y.: I've read some articles in
which you implied that you don't
think that you've had real success.
M.E.: I do believe I have a long way
to go. I have more people I want to
reach, I have more things I want to
do, more music I want to make. I
just have a long way to go.
K.Y.: How are you defining success?
M.E.: Success comes in steps. You
gotta take it in steps and do it that
way or else you'll never get it.
Success to me is to be able to stand
on the step and look around and say,
'Hey,you know, I'm here, but look
dir. Barbet Schroeder
by Mike Wilson
S ometimes real life is more in-
teresting than fiction. The case of
Claus von Bulow is a prominent ex-
ample of this. Eight years ago the
Danish-born aristocrat was convicted
of attempting to murder his wife,
Sunny, by insulin injection. This
intriguing event was documented in
the book Reversal of Fortune by
von Bulow's lawyer Alan Der-
showitz. The film version tells the
story of von Bulow's attempt to re-
verse the decision and examines the
question of von Bulow's guilt and
the legal attempt to exonerate him.
Like a good lawyer before a jury,
the film immediately eliminates pre-
conceptions about the case that were
perpetuated in the media. The ac-
cepted version of the well-publicized
story is presented in the first five
minutes of the film. At this point,
sympathies do not lie with this cold,
rich aristocrat who appears to have
killed his wife for more money.
Impassioned Harvard Law
Professor Alan Dershowitz (Ron
Silver) then convinces himself, his
student assistants and the audience
that von Bulow's appeal is worth
pursuing. In a key early scene
Dershowitz forcefully tells a
doubting student, "I think it's a little
more complicated than your moral
superiority." From this point on, the
film features an unusually effective
combination of mystery, comedy and
Reversal of Fortune successfully
balances entertaining suspense with
deeper underlying themes. On one
level it focuses on the excitement of
trying to win a legal case. Der-
showitz's frantic investigations are
constantly portrayed as a game. Like
any sport, pursuing the case is
inherently challenging. comnetitive
Contributing to the amusing
atmosphere is the performance of
Jeremy Irons. As Claus von Bulow,
he is complex yet surprisingly hilar-
ious. Known for his serious film
roles in Dead Ringers and The Mis-
sion, the 42-year-old British actor is
virtually unrecognizable as the much
older aristocrat with a deeply digni-
fied voice. His playful irony is si-
multaneously funny and mystifying.
"What do you give a wife who has
everything? Insulin," he cracks, re-
lating the jokes commonly told
These jokes keep the audience at
a comic distance from the enigma of
von Bulow. Though Dershowitz's
case is convincing, von Bulow's
cold disposition and weird sense of
humor instill an element of doubt.
The film effectively manipulates
sympathies; by the end it is impos-
sible to determine what actually
happened or who is telling the truth.
See REVERSAL, page 8
Incorporating her small town background and her personal point of view,
Melissa Etheridge musically expresses her depth in a bluesy-type of style.
at all those steps, okay here I go.'
And just keep climbing.
K.Y.: If you were to release an
album tomorrow and everyone loved
it and you were selling out shows
everywhere, would that be success?
M.E.: That's one step, that's a level,
that's something. I'd be lying to you
if I said that that's not a dream that I
have, certainly it is - to go as far
as one could go in the performing
and entertaining. I don't know how
far that will go because I plan, and I
will, stay true to myself and what I
do. And how commercially viable
that is is to be seen.
K.Y.: You have a regional tone to
your music. How does that relate to
you, and how would that be different
if you were from somewhere else?
M.E.: I think not just where but
with whom I grew up. My family
was lower middle-class, plain folk
from Kansas. The town I grew up in
was a small town. It one, enabled
my dreams to be huge because, you
know, where're you gonna go from
there? Everything you can dream of
is gonna be huge. But it also gave
me a very solid foundation, actually,
to take off of. I enjoy things so
much because I didn't have them, so
when you do have them now I like
to feel them all the way. And there's
a lot of things that my mother and
my father both instilled in me about
just quality of life that influences me
as much as where I grew up.
K.Y.: Is there a progression that you
have been following?
M.E.: My one path that I like to say
that I'm on is just that I want to get
better. I don't want to ever stay in
the same place. I do want to move
and challenge myself. I don't think I
want to take great departures from
what I'm doing but find out what's
good and best about what I've done
and retain that and go on.
K.Y.: What do you see as having
been the changes between your two
M.E.: Confidence, a lot of confi-
dence. More interaction with the
band - me evolving from a solo
artist on the first album to a band on
the second album.
K.Y.: Where are you going from
M.E.: I'm gonna try to pay more
attention to me as a studio artist. I
know I'm a live artist. I know I can
do that. I've done it, got it down,
here I go. But, a studio artist, I'd
like to see what I could do if I sit
down and really put my mind to it,
not just my body and heart but my
K.Y.: "Me and Bobby McGee"
sounds like it could be your song.
M: That is so funny, I just sang it
last night. I was at The Central, this
little dive bar here, and some friends
of mine were playing, and I got up
on the stage, and I did "Me and
Bobby McGee." I love that song!
K.Y.: Are you a Janis Joplin fan?
M.E.: Yes, I came onto her when I
was about 21 and really found a lot
of strength in what she did in that
she could get out there and just rip it
wide open. And if she could do that
then I could do that in more of a
healthy fashion. She'll do that, she
gives me a lot of inspiration for
K.Y.: What do you want people to
M.E.: That it's real, real music.
See ETHERIDGE, Page 8
uaus von Bsulow (Jeremy irons) conters with with his lawyer Alan Uershowitz (Ron Silver) in Reversal of
Fortune, a movie that lies somewhere between Scandal and that TV movie about the space shuttle Challenger
on the list of all-time great movies exploiting real-life tragedies.
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