Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Masked Singer


(FOX) When Roctober published our History of Masked Rocked’n’Roll issue last Century it was a decent effort for the pre-internet research age and a fun read, and mildly influential, as several (very good) masked acts sprung up, directly citing the zine’s enlightening nature. However, we cannot take any credit for the most popular show in the world. While a show about celebrities singing in elaborate costumes while lesser celebrities guess their identities is seemingly unrelated to the manifesto we set forth about why an artist might choose to performed masked, the underlying elements are not really that different. The liberating nature of performing without the constraints of your everyday identity holding you back is actually more pertinent when the performers actually are recognizable and get to alter audience and self perceptions by having anonymity. The mask as a primordial vessel of transformation and spirit channeling has to have even more power when the costumes are elaborate works of design genius. And the value of a good gimmick --- the show is #1, baby! What I like best about the show is that it is fucking terrible and is still great! The hosts are charmless; the scripted ad libs are comedy graveyards; the audience reactions and shots are coached and edited to be so over the top and idiotic that the most important part of a filmed performance (the TV audience mirroring our spectatorship and infusing the show with a kind of authenticity associated with live performance) is meaningless. Yet watching the actually famous people (the only skateboarder you can name; the most famous white non-QB in the NFL; Chong) wearing the most innovative, beautiful costumes ever (this season there is one that requires puppeteering and one with two singers in a pod), and singing decently (or brilliantly; unless it had had turned out to be the best Patti LaBelle impersonator ever, it was really dumb when they had the greatest living vocalist, Patti LaBelle on singing like Patti LaBelle while the panel pretended to be befuddled) is awesome! Also, in COVID I am so distracted and unfocussed that I can never guess who they are, so the reveal is fun. There have been some mistakes (assigning a hideous blowjob face angel costume to someone who was going to win and be on every week; acting like Sarah Palin is redeemable), but this is generally a fun show, and in the Big Picture it is a testament to the power of masked performances. I predict that as soon as face tattoo acts fade out a new wave of toilet paper mummies, Kabuki makeup gals and guys, and rubber Trump masked troubadours will take over the underground and the pop charts.

No comments:

Post a Comment