Mr. Right-Click and I were watching the Inauguration, and naturally they had to roll out Maya Angelou for some choice pieces of wisdom, given that this was an historic moment (when I write about blowhards, I like to adopt their mannerisms, such as saying things like “an historic”), and more to the point, a moment of particular importance to the history of African-Americans. You see, when the topic is contemporary American racial relations, Maya Angelou is the go-to blowhard of choice, narrowly edging out Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Spike Lee for her superior recognizability and credibility, respectively.
I think you’re not supposed to actually call Maya Angelou a blowhard. I think she’s kind of beloved or something. But I’m convinced I’m just saying what other people are thinking.
Yeah, I know she’s a renowned poet, even if I made it through (counts fingers, runs out, starts over) 12 years of higher education in English literature without once being assigned one of her books or poems. I’m not going to get into the debate about whether she’s a great poet or not, that’s pointless, and the literary canon is certainly not a fair and balanced institution, so it’s totally possible that her work would be excluded from courses despite relevance or merit.
As a side note, I will say that the line, “I know why the caged bird sings,” that is a good line, in itself. I have children’s a book written by her, with drawings by Jean-Michel Basquiat, even, called Life Doesn’t Scare Me. Truthfully, it’s a little scary. But I probably I would like her poetry if she would just stay off TV and contain her excessive blowhardry for her inner circle. Like some people don’t seem to be bothered by it–Oprah seems to like it, for example. So leave it for Oprah, I say.
If you’re wondering if I have a recent, specific example of Maya Angelou’s blowhardry, well . . . no. This is mainly because if I see Maya Angelou on TV I immediately change the channel out of fear for blowhard infection. But let’s take a look at her website and see what we can come up with:
Dr. Maya Angelou is a remarkable Renaissance woman who is hailed as one of the great voices of contemporary literature. As a poet, educator, historian, best-selling author, actress, playwright, civil-rights activist, producer and director, she continues to travel the world, spreading her legendary wisdom. Within the rhythm of her poetry and elegance of her prose lies Angelou’s unique power to help readers of every orientation span the lines of race and Angelou captivates audiences through the vigor and sheer beauty of her words and lyrics.
BLOWHARD. Blowhard! I mean, maybe she didn’t write it, yeah, but this is on her official website. I’m suspicious of anyone who takes themselves so seriously. I don’t care if they are talented, or wise, or what not. Can wise people not laugh? Can wise people not laugh at themselves? Must wise people always be important and offer theses statements? Must they adopt a deep voice? Must we always be knowing their power?
Maybe it’s unfair to gang up on Maya Angelou. Let’s face it, I could just as easily be talking about Gloria Alred. Or Tyra Banks. Or Quentin Tarantino. Or Tom Cruise. Or William Bennett. Or Chrysse Hynde. Or Susan Sarandon. Or Tim Robbins. Or Sean Penn. Hmm. Maybe I should do a list?
EDIT: Check out this David Allen Grier imitation–SO FUNNY! He demonstrates what I’m talking about in a far more hilarious way.