Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Father knows best?

It's clear that distasteful revelations are all the rage in the world of celebrity - if you want to be talked about, you need to make sure you've got something shocking to fuel the conversation.

So ten celebrity points go to troubled Mackenzie Phillips, whose revelations this week put an unpleasant spin on 'keeping it in the family'. Sending housewives' jaws plummeting into the tufted shag, Mackenzie told Oprah Winfrey that she had a sexual relationship with her father, John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas, for ten years.

In a no-holds-barred interview, the former child star also opened up about her crippling drug habit which, coincidentally enough can also be traced back to her father. According to her autobiography, she first tried cocaine at the age of eleven, a time when most young girls are getting their first crush, playing with dolls or bringing the fashion industry to its knees. Later on, John kindly showed her how to roll joints and inject her class A's, whereas most kids have to settle for the occasional ill-tempered driving lesson.

But John's finest parenting moment came the night before Mackenzie's wedding to Jeff Sessler, one of the Rolling Stones' entourage. As a concerned parent, he felt that she was doing the wrong thing by rushing into marriage, so he did what any good father would do, waiting until she blacked out from all the pills she'd taken and then raping her.

According to Mackenzie, their sexual relationship ultimately became consensual and lasted over a decade, finally coming to an end when she terminated a pregnancy that John may have fathered. Speaking about their grim pairing, Mackenzie claims: "One night Dad said, 'We could just run away to a country where no one would look down on us. There are countries where this is an accepted practice. Maybe Fiji.' He was completely delusional." I imagine the Fijian tourist board will be delighted to hear about that glowing celebrity endorsement.

Given these shocking revelations about many people's favourite sixties harmony group, it's hard not to see an unpleasantly ironic thread running through many of the song titles on their greatest hits. Tracks like I Saw Her Again, Go Where You Wanna Go, My Girl and Glad To Be Unhappy now have a troubling ulterior significance.

The good news, if anything in this tawdry tale can be considered at all positive, is that Mackenzie has been clean for 18 months, and has decided to use her past to give a public face to consensual incest, in the hope that it will help other victims to come forward.

Sadly, this particularly ugly side of human nature is all too familiar, thanks to modern-day bogeymen like Josef Fritzl and Fred West. We roll our eyes and struggle to comprehend how anyone could abuse the role of parent to such a degree. They're monsters and dwell exclusively in the darkest recesses of our memory.

But what are we supposed to do when the perpetrator of such a horrendous crime has left their other legacy in our music collection? How should we feel the next time we find ourselves sharing in the evocative memories of the leaves turning brown and the sky becoming grey? We can throw out the CDs and vow never to listen to the Mamas and the Papas ever again, or we can try to take solace in the fact that even the ugliest souls are capable of creating something of beauty.

1 comment:

  1. Americans + the sixties + caftans and jaunty hats cocked a la thus used to = nice family singalong car journey music, now they just = a bad taste in my mouth. What next? Macca and a walrus?