Would Janis Joplin have become a defining icon and martyr of the Sixties if her mother had loved her? This intriguing profile of the raspy voiced wild woman of rock raises interesting psychological questions without going too deep.
Janis came from conservative roots in the oil country of Texas, and though her mother had been a "high school singing star," she seemed never to have praised or encouraged her daughter's musical talents, perhaps because for Janis, music went hand-in-hand with drug experimentation and later abuse.
We learn that Janis's mother told her she wished Janis had never been born after the singer brought her flamboyant act to Arthur, TX, for her 10th high school reunion. This show implies Janis sought escape and comfort in alcohol and heroin after conflicts with her family and a longstanding pattern of rejection by men, including an early fiancé and Country Joe of the "Fish" fame. She felt unattractive -- when in reality she was a "breakthrough woman who pushes the culture -- 'making it possible for girls who don't look conventionally pretty to still be sexy,'" in the words of a commentator.
Janis is appreciated here as a "cultural provocateur" who hoped to inspire young people to follow their own wishes instead of society's dictates.
The woman who lamented she made love to millions in her concerts but went home alone was a tragic figure in many ways. Does anyone still listen to her raucous sound? This show doesn't say.
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