One or two of you will have heard of the 1947 song Ballerina, recorded by many, but most memorably by Nat King Cole, in 1957. It is a haunting, enraging tune that takes the form of spiteful whispering in the ears of the eponymous ballerina at the very moment she is giving a performance that will make her a star. The voice murmurs, “This is your moment girl,” even though “he’s not out there applauding as you steal the show.” See? She’s traded love for fame, so there’s nothing left to do but “Dance! Dance! Dance!” The voice affords the girl barely a moment of pride and satisfaction. And when the incandescent King Cole croons it, the bite is ten times more painful. Its elegantly venomous attack on achieving women had historical roots in post-World War II America, part of a general backlash atmosphere in the United States as it sought to re-domesticate working women, who had kept the factories and businesses going while the men were away fighting, to make room in the job market for the returning heroes. By 1957, second wave feminism was on the rise and “Ballerina” re-emerged with the counter-wave of resistance to uppity women.
But what has this to do with Veronica Mars, which in its first three seasons was widely regarded as a sparkling feminist television series? Well, its fourth season, which recently began to air on Hulu, would seem to unmask the show as creator Rob Thomas’ 21st century version of the kind of backlash entertainment that appears right on cue whenever women make new strides culturally toward independence, personhood, and realization of their talents and goals. Like running for president and “me too”? Suddenly, Veronica, like her spiritual dancing sister, has emerged as a sinister warning to any girl who would be her own person while female. And in a very big way. Continue reading on EYE ON MEDIA