LIZ BRAUN PLAYS THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE IN THIS `FEEL-GOOD' TALE
Oh, gosh - it's spring, and among the huggy, feely, smiley-face stories this week is the
joyous reunion of Joni Mitchell and her daughter. In case you were off the planet last
weekend, Canada's fey little songbird has discovered the daughter she gave up some 30 years
Wow. Shake your bangs and light up.
Actually, the daughter - Kilauren Gibb - found Mitchell, but never mind. In the midst of
the media feeding frenzy surrounding this fairy tale ending, some of the more cynical among
us can't help feeling that there is something really, really wrong with this story. Maybe
it's just us, but Mitchell's rags-to-riches story and her heartbreaking need to give up her
child for adoption (about 20 minutes before she became famous) is a tale with holes in it
big enough to drive an 18 wheeler right on through.
We'd ask how old that baby was when Mitchell gave her up, but it's not our place to
speculate on someone else's motives. Someone else's narcissism or ambition we would happily
speculate on, but never mind. According to British writer Brian Hinton, Mitchell tells a
touching tale about this period in her life and depicts herself as a sexual innocent lost
in a harsh and judgmental society.
MITCHELL HAD MANY FAMOUS LOVERS
We'd be much happier with this poor-and-pregnant story of heart-wrenching loss were this
not the same Joni Mitchell who so made up for lost time that Rolling Stone magazine once
published a handy map to the many famous men she'd had her way with.
But never mind again. This mother and child reunion story is really bothersome for other
reasons. For starters, it offers a good programming reason to play even more Cancon-fulfilling,
twee, affected, irritating music. Next on the bothersome front is the celebrity angle.
Joni Mitchell is a big star; someone else put in 32 years of loving and child-rearing and
doing all the hard work and it all ends up being a story about ...
Excuse me? If I were the couple who raised Kilauren Gibb, I'd be really pissed
right now. Also feeling cheesed off, one would speculate, are all the mothers who calmly
turned to theft or prostitution or whatever it took, rather than give up a child.
MANY FAMILY REUNIONS NOT SO HAPPY
And then there are those mothers (and children) whose reunions have been fraught with
harsh reality. Or whose reunions have never happened. Or whose reunions didn't involve
statements to the press or having a concept album written about anybody.
For Kilauren Gibb, who spent five years looking for her mother and then had to fax
in her adoption papers and wait to get the nod from Mitchell's people, how can this be
anything but a lose/lose situation? The worst-case scenario is that it won't work out.
The best-case scenario is that everything will work out fine, which leaves Gibb and her
three-year-old son free to do nothing but avoid star-seekers and advantage-takers for
the rest of their lives.
Joni Mitchell, coy and mysterious song references aside, managed to keep this love
child out of the news for many, many years. Why, having found her daughter, didn't she
keep it just as quiet for the sake of all involved?
Just wondering, of course.