Wed. December 5
My Guilty Pleasure: Barbra Streisand
God help me. I love Barbra Streisand.
And when I say love, I mean love. I love the way she sings. I love her intelligence. As I filmmaker myself, I love her talent. I love her nose.
As a conservative, saying you love Barbra is like announcing you want taxes to double–or kissing Barney Frank on the mouth. It’s more than just a guilty pleasure. It’s a brave form of iconoclasm.
I blame a lot of my Barbraphilia to my mother (and no, I’m not gay). My mom loves Barbra, and when I was growing up mom would always call me into the room when Miss Streisand was on TV. Anyone who believes, as most religious conservatives like myself do, that there is such a thing as objective beauty, and that that beauty has it’s source in God, there is simply no denying that Barbra Streisand’s voice is divine. Yes, Babs the political hack is off-putting. And I’ve heard that Director Streisand can be a bit of a control freak on the set. But when my mom would shout, “Barbra’s on TV!” and I would go scampering into the family room, the world stopped.
Of course, it’s easy to mesmerize a young boy with what is virtually an archetype of a strong, gorgeous woman. It’s something else when that crush lasts into adolescence. Yes, I was still hot for Barbra as a teenager in the 1980s. Although I had seen The Way We Were with my mom when it came out in the early 1970s, upon seeing it again in high school in the 1980s I had a different reaction. A more, er, libidinous reaction. Barbara was (is) hot! I used to actually get angry at Robert Redford’s character, the clueless doofus Hubbell, when he didn’t see the funny, sensual delightfulness of Katie, Barbra’s character. She was funny, smart, had a great figure and wanted to cook for this guy then make love to him. What was his problem? Of course, Katie, like Barbra, turned into a hectoring ideologue. But I told myself that if I was Redford, I could put up with her dumb Stalinist posturing. I still can, if you’re reading this Babs.
I actually think there may be some kind of weird kismet with me and Babs. True story: several years ago I went to see a remake of Planet of the Apes–the 2001 version with Mark Wahlberg. When I got to the theater, The Uptown in Washington, D.C., it turned out that I had the wrong day. What was playing? A re-screening of Funny Girl. I furtively checked left and right to make sure none of my conservative buds where on the sidewalk, then got my ticket. I hadn’t seen that many gay people in an audience since the Village People.
I’m a right-winger who loves Barbra Streisand. Consider this my coming out.