Brianna Jentz
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"I'm 24601" Blog 4

October 3, 2010 @ 7:31 PM | Permalink


“The Nick Jonas Effect”


Well, I found a way to get me to drink beer. Cast Nick Jonas as Marius in “Les Miserables.” I never thought it would happen. There I was watching the “25th Anniversary Concert of 'Les Miserables'” at the Omni Center in Edinburgh, enjoying the melodious sounds of the majorly English cast, and almost swooning when Jean Valjean asked the question “Who Am I?” when who should appear but nasally sounding Nick Jonas. Seriously, I would have never thought he would be in this “serious” of a role. I thought Disney owned his soul.... After a quick recovery I realized that Disney must have sold it to the devil who was now torturing all Broadway lovers. Well for my reading audience to understand my what-would-appear-to-be my over-exaggerated dislike for the “Jonas factor,” I need to talk about identity.

In “Les Miserables,” Jean Valjean wrestles with his identity between convict, dedicated mayor, loving father, fugitive, and so many more that after listening to his heart wrenching tale for probably the 1,307th time I have barely begun to dissect his identity. But this time when I watched “Les Miserables,” I took a step back from my analysis of fictitious characters to think about how we form identities. As the book stated, identity is always changing and has so many characteristics that define and individual. The identity I reveal to my friend’s landlord, Marylou, may be entirely different that the identity I reveal to my brother, Leigh. Shrek was right: Identity Has Layers!. Still I prefer to think of these as layers of a parfait, not an onion. (Apparently when I was a young child, I ate onions raw, but now I'm not that big of a fan.)

When we are born, we do not have a known identity. People ascribe identities to us. In a parfait, the fruit is my favorite part. This is the part of identity that adds flavor to our lives. I think of this part as our hopes, dreams, personal stories, co-cultures that deviate from the norm, and so much more. For me, my parfait has a lot more fruit and less yogurt than the one's you find at McDonald's.

The crunchy part of the parfait are the “teaching” parts of our identity. No one would have an identity unless someone taught him/her. I remember hearing about a girl who was so isolated from the world that she never learned how to speak and therefore had no sense of self. She was no more a “humane” than a mute parrot. Our humanity comes from being taught. Families and schools are a main part about learning about identity. When we eat the granola of a parfait, it makes a crunch. Therefore I equate it with our roots because of its solid nature.

With a parfait, there is the main portion which is the yogurt. Here yogurt could represent the main part of our identities or the part that most people see: our race, gender, nationality, possibly religion, etc. For me, the yogurt would represent that I am a white American female who was raised Catholic. This is how many people view me, but it is not necessarily the first thing I think about myself when asking myself, “who am I?”

Now that I have explained this, I can now explain my dislike for the “Jonas factor.” The yogurt part of me is “American.” At the intermission of the musical, I heard some Scots behind me mention how Nick sounded “so American.” This automatically made me question why Nick Jonas was the only noticeable non-Brittish part of the musical. Is it because they wanted more preteen girls to tune-in? Was it because Americans can waltz in and do whatever they want? Was it because Justin Bieber had a tour and Nick was the only one they could find to sing high enough? I apologize for all the snarky comments, but I have determined that my issue with the “Jonas factor” is that I dislike my outward identity being defined by overpaid pop sensations. This is not the view of being “American” that I embrace.

Still with this conclusion, I thought about what had happened before the start of the musical. Before the actual performance began, there was a tribute video about the twenty-five year run of “Les Mis” and clips from previous shows were shown. At the end, there was a clip of Susan Boyle (who I am a major fan of) singing “I Dreamed A Dream.” While I sat quietly taking in her voice, the locals started laughing. I do not know if this is correct (and I do intend to ask some people about this), but I wonder if the Scots are irritated by a sort of “Jonas Factor,” but this time is it a “Boyle Epidemic.” I am curious if they also find that the excessive attention given to one celebrity is crushing their identities.


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