Thursday, August 18, 2011

"Doris Day"

The phrase “Doris Day” today evokes not so much individuated person as type, or more specifically, phenotype. It is difficult to imagine any discussion of “Doris Day” proceeding without there occurring some reference to “blonde” and “blue-eyed.” Together with that blondeness and blue-eyed-ness comes a certain actorly character: perky, righteous, virginal. Some know her best from the Rock Hudson comedies of the late 1965s and early 1960s, others know her better from her television show that ran from 1968–1973. Those born later, such as myself, know her not at all, except as blonde simulacrum. Those of this later generation became familiar with the Doris Day parody first, the actual image later. I saw the 2003 film Down with Love, heard the Sly and the Family Stone version of “Que Sera, Sera,” and even, if memory serves, witnessed a drag queen portrayal of Doris—they are regrettably rare, but they do occur—all before I had seen a single Doris Day film. And yet I knew enough of the Doris Day type to recognize these performances as the parodies they were.