Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Growing up in the 50's and 60's with the Mickey Mouse Club and Disney, I was never a great fan of Annette. I thought she was too popular, too stuck up, a snob and a tease.
The fact that Annette was Italian-American made her more familiar to me - perhaps because I grew up with a slew of female cousins and Annette could have been one of them - and made her more of an icon, a caricature of Italian-American adolescence.
I couldn't articulate it then, but I think Annette represented the entire heterosexual world of teens and preteens - a world I could not relate to in the least - but a world that I envied at some level - not because I wanted to be like them (the straight kids), but because their budding sexuality was being celebrated in movies and music everywhere you looked. Their "normality" was held up as an ideal, as proof of their inherent potential to fulfill their parents' and society's dreams and visions.
Watching movies and TV, I remained an outsider, looking in at the "normal" world, a world where the likes of Annette made boys weak in the knees and caused them to act like idiots. That was disturbing.
Annette was sexy in a modest way but wore her virginity belt with a security lock that could stave off even the sexiest and most persistent boys on the beach. I was not attracted to Annette, but I was attracted to some of the boys she put off.
To be fair, I must admit that over the years I have come to admire and respect the woman that Annette Funicello became. She was a decent and courageous woman. I don't know what she thought of the LGBT community and perhaps I don't care. I do know that in more recent interviews, since she came out with her MS, she has demonstrated that courage and dignity and poise that I admire in strong women - in men as well, but in women especially.
I think Annette should be made an honorary Diva, if she is not one already. Good-bye Annette and thank you.