Privacy Versus the Public Persona
(see film clip) (hear Janis Joplin audio clip)
 The major issue that is presented in the film The Rose is the career demands of a world famous singer. The office scene (6:00) serves to represent the conflict that existed between a super star’s private needs and the drive to satisfy the mass media. In the first half of the scene Rose and her manager, Rudge Campbell, argue over Rose’s need to take a year off from touring. Rudge wins the argument on the basis that the pair is involved in a $3 million dollar a year business. In the second half of the scene reporters from newspapers and television stations interview the Rose on her plans for future touring. This is the time Rose preaches the philosophy of “having a good time, getting laid, and staying stoned.” An ideal which was popular in the time, but even she is unable to live up to that potential because of her career demands. This scene also suggests some resemblance to Janis Joplin’s interview in front of her high school reunion. In Rose’s interview she is asked some of the types of questions as Joplin is in her interview. This particular scene addresses how public demands are placed in front of personal needs.
 Rose has certain needs that she feels need to be satisfied for her to be an effective performer. Rose is an individual who puts her heart and soul into every performance. Her fans have an expectation for her to put her heart into every performance, which was the same standard that Joplin was expected to apply in her music. Rose is tired and needs a chance to regain the energy that she once had. She says that she can’t do things “half-assed anymore.” The public knows that she is tired. The scene is set up in an office building overlooking the city, showing off the wealth that their business has provided them. If the pair was unsuccessful, they would not have a nice office with reporters outside fighting to get in. The director sets this scene for the audience to visualize what is at stake if Rose and Rudge do not continue to foster their business: a tremendous financial loss. The fans wanted a source of inspiration, and this was a time when musicians were honest and inspiring the population with the ideals of the time.
 In the second half of the scene Rose plays on her charms and feeds the crowd with personality. They discuss her plans for the future. The business aspect of the entertainment industry again pushes its way to the foreground of the interview. Rose is placed in the center of microphones and cameras but carefully placed to the side of her is Rudge, watching ever so cautiously to ensure that Rose does not step beyond the boundaries of her position. When she does, Rudge quickly gets her back in her place. Rose confesses her intent to take a year off, and Rudge replies that the “Virgin Mary will be filling in for her.” Rose is again silenced by her desire for some personal time. The corporation steps in front of the individual. Rose expresses her thrill at her opportunity to perform in front of her hometown audience. They are her people with which she shares a common background. In contrast to this scene is an actual interview between Janis Joplin and several reporters.
 This particular scene allows director Mark Rydell to portray Rose as subject to her career as well as a woman who feeds off the attention that she receives from the world around her. In the private sphere Rose has to struggle for her liberation from a controlling manager, but in the eyes of the public, she has the power. She wins the popularity of the reporters by giving them exactly what they want. She gives them all of her and not just a piece. Her interview with reporters shows that Rose gives the public what they want and expect of her, much like Janis Joplin did during her career.
 Joplin and Rose share a fascination with their hometowns; both women want to return home a big star. Rose expresses a bond with her hometown, whereas Joplin expresses her separation from the people. Saying that they cast her aside. The bond that Rose discusses with her hometown people for the most part is because she really wants to stick her fame right back in their faces, which is the same reason why Joplin returns the her 10-year high school reunion. In the footage of Joplin before her high school reunion, she does express how her town has managed to get “looser, ” and she applies the same ideals that Rose expresses of “sex, drugs, and rock and roll.” Joplin feels it is something that the whole world has come to participate in and that her town is finally catching up. This scene allows director Rydell the opportunity to show the similarities among the two women as well as the difference. It also allow for Rose to become more symbolic of rock icons of the time, as well as solely limiting to the persona of Janis Joplin.
Alk, Howard, dir. and prod. Janis. Crawley Films, 1974
Rydell, Mark, dir. The Rose. Twentieth Century Fox, 1979
Copyright (c) 2001 by Jessica Roche, Graduate Student at Lehigh University.
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