December 14, 2008

The Tragic Irony Variety Hour

A few days ago I posted the Carpenters' Space Encounters TV special to MetaFilter after having been given a glimpse of it at a Sci Fi Screening Room event. However, there's one little part of it that I can't seem to stop watching -- it's got me horribly mesmerized. It's a duet in which Karen Carpenter and Suzanne Somers warble "Man Smart, Woman Smarter" wearing matching pastel jumpsuits and granny shawls. First of all, this is a song that you probably shouldn't mess with unless you're Harry Belafonte or Ricky Ricardo (this means you, Grateful Dead and Robert Palmer). Something about affecting Carribean speech patterns for the sheer fun of it raises the hackles of anyone in earshot.

All that aside, one can't watch this without getting hung up on the fact that, of the two women prancing about and extolling the superiority of the female brain, one of them is visibly dying of what we now know as anorexia nervosa, and the other is... well, Suzanne Somers. Did irony ever shake so cruel and tragic a tailfeather? I can't look away...

(For the sake of sharing, while poking around in YouTube looking for these clips, I found this. Apparently someone thought it extremely important to use the Carpenters version of this song as the backdrop for an action sequence from the movie Aeon Flux. Thankfully Charlize Theron and Sophie Okonedo left their shawls at home.)

1 comment:

Kevin Maher said...

Wow - I hadn't seen that part of the show. I agree it's really hard to watch Karen Carpenter, the same way I find it impossible to see old film footage of John F. Kennedy. thanks for sharing this.