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People…People who Curse at People…

By Brian | October 13, 2006 | Share on Facebook

Barbra Streisand is on tour again (for what Variety is calling her “return-farewell tour”). The reviews are generally good – lots of Broadway showtunes, heartfelt ballads and classic standards. The only complaint most critics have is, ironically, the political commentary. Streisand has long played upon the common misperception that famous people are automatically well-informed and intelligent people as well. And so, she insists on taking advantage of the microphone, the stage, and the media attention that always surrounds her to enlighten us with her views on politics, morality, and the American way of life. If you don’t believe me, check out her website, which contains several political “Statements” on the homepage, but requires you to click through to find out anything about her music or other entertainment-related ventures.

All of this is well and good for the casual fan, who can buy her albums, listen to her music, watch her movies, etc. and ignore the political commentary if he/she wishes. But put a few thousand of them in Madison Square Garden, charge them anywhere from $150-$750 for the ticket, and watch how quickly the patience level drops when the music is interrupted for a lesson on representative democracy. Things get even worse when the commentary turns into sketch comedy (a la Saturday Night Live), complete with a George W. Bush impersonator. Here’s how E! Online described the scene:

[Babs:]“How would the President erase the national debt?
[Bush:]“Sell Canada; they don’t use half of it.”

[Babs:]How does Bush feel about his low approval ratings?
[Bush:]“If I cared about polls, I would have run for President of Poland.”

Some fans began to tire of the twosome’s routine, with one man going so far as to shout, “What is this, a fundraiser?”

Apparently, Babs can dish it out, but she can’t take it.

“Why don’t you shut the f— up?” she shouted back to the delight of her more sycophantic fans. “If you can’t take a joke, why don’t you leave and get your money back.”

Apparently, the man did just that. He left, and Streisand’s people refunded his money. The Daily Intelligencer spoke with some people about the incident after the show:

Among Streisand’s most natural constituency these things went over only somewhat better. “She’s got balls,” said George Gustafson, 49, of New Haven, after the show. He was there with his partner Gary Gustafson, also 49, but Gary wasn’t as forgiving. “He’s the leader of our country, and I think we should respect him.” Oy. On her way out, a woman behind us muttered, “We’re not paying money to see politics.”

And Variety panned it as well:

The angry audience member was a disgruntled Republican, responding to some ill-considered shtick involving George W. Bush impersonator Steve Bridges. No matter what side of the political fence you’re on, the material was lame. . . . The belabored spoken interludes don’t dampen the spell of Streisand’s singing, but they feel pat and counterfeit next to the real, expressive personality in her vocals. That’s why the lapse in self-control and the unleashed expletive were almost welcome.

The irony here is palpable. Streisand is in her hometown, New York City, where her popularity is arguably at its highest, and where the political climate is generally welcoming to anti-Bush or anti-Republican material. Nonetheless, people who are willing to shell out $750 to hear her sing are telling her loud and clear: We don’t care what you think of the President, the war, or the country. Shut up and sing another song.

Maybe this farewell tour should be the real deal, huh?

(SIDE NOTE: Blogger’s spell checker doesn’t recognize “Streisand.” It’s suggestion? “Stressing.” Hah!)

UPDATE: Audience members and other fans have begun writing to newspapers & websites with basically the same message: Shut up and sing!

Topics: Political Rantings, Words about Music | No Comments »

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