Rummaging through some old mix CDs last night unexpectedly heard, for the first time in years, Milla Jovovich’s improbably excellent 1994 single “The Gentleman Who Fell.” I say improbably because we don’t expect our celebrities to be, nor do we as a rule reward them for being, good at more than one thing. When you first heard that Viggo Mortensen gives readings of his poetry, admit it—you rolled your eyes. And the mere mention of the band Dogstar will still elicit involuntary snickers from rock fans of a certain age.
And God forfend you should be a hyphenated talent if you are a beautiful woman. Milla is and was a supermodel. The cognoscenti looked askance when she made the jump to acting. But to be a singer-songwriter as well—that was beyond the pale. And when Scarlett Johansson put out that album where she sang those Tom Waits songs, and when Zooey Deschanel sang with She & Him, the rock press lined up to proclaim their hate in often ugly and personal terms.
I was thinking about all this, I was remembering a picture. Shortly before I suspended How Bad Can It Be?, I was toying with the idea of writing a column about this stuff, using Minnie Driver’s album Everything I’ve Got In My Pocket as a springboard. But it never got further than a few miscellaneous notes, and an image knocked together in Photoshop. I’m never going to write that column now, but I still think the picture is funny:
If How Bad had a dirty secret, it is precisely this: that on occasion (as in this case) the jokes came first, and from there I worked backwards towards my thesis.