Don’t Be a Janis


I think I angered someone on Facebook when I did not react as I should to a photo of an obviously stoned Janis Joplin.  The caption on the photo was “In a world of Kardashians, be a Janis.”  The more I think about that photo and caption, the more disgusted I am by it. The person was ticked when I condemned the addict, expressing dismay that I thought her life was worthless because she was self-medicating due to depression.  She also felt that Janis Joplin was an original, fighting against the commonality of others.

Unfortunately, having lived through the era, nothing could be farther from the truth.  Janis Joplin died of a heroin overdose in 1970.  Had she survived her music would be considered mediocre.  Let’s be honest here.  She was a junkie who destroyed herself.  She was also following the crowd.  In her time frame, a Kardashian would be the one who was a unique individual.

In the late 1960s, there was nothing unique about someone being drugged out of their minds, and dying of an over-dose.  It was far more common in the music world than staying clean and sober. In less than a year, Jim Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison all died of drug over-doses.

Having lived through those years, I know people who became entrapped in the drug culture glamorized and popularized by celebs like Janis Joplin. With ONE exception, every single one of them destroyed their lives. The only reason one friend survived was due to the fact that she turned to Christ to fight her addiction.  I saw promising lives totally ruined.  Tens of thousands of people died.  Lives were shattered.

There are some who contribute her death to depression or bi-polar disorder, and suicide or self-medication.  Yes, it happens, but not as frequently as one might think.  Perhaps it would help to be honest.  The woman died from a drug overdose.  She was a raging addict. She was an addict because drug use, in her era and where she lived was a fad. It was part of the culture.  It was part of a culture that created a fad that inspired millions of young fans to copy their life-style.  It was a culture that killed people.

Please, explain to me why that culture is superior to being a Kardashian?  The bitter irony?  There was NOTHING original about Janis Joplin when put into the cultural context of her life.  Everyone was doing drugs.  It was the era of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. People like the Kardashians would be the ones sticking out like the unique sore thumb.

Irony can be bitter.

As a footnote, this opera fan wants to mention during that same time frame, Beverly Sills was becoming an industry.  Sherrill Milnes, Placido Domingo, and Luciano Pavarotti were just starting their careers.  Leontyne Price was a super-star.   Joan Sutherland was an international star.  Maria Callas, whose career was over, was still a diva. Robert Merrill and Richard Tucker ruled the Metropolitan Opera.  The real irony, after all these years, looking back, Janis Joplin is nothing but a blip, a footnote in the history of Rock and Roll.  Yet – these operatic super-stars have a legacy which will only grow brighter.

I guess opera does win.  Fifty years from now, each and every one of these operatic legends will be remembered.  I doubt if anyone but a trivia expert will have even heard of Janis Joplin.  Golly gee, opera does win.