Whenever people are in the spotlight, striving to be and do their best, rivalries are bound to happen. Rivalries are dramatic, juicy, sometimes humorous and often painful for those involved. My book explores how rivalry affects two young singers, but rivalry isn’t limited to the arts. Every other day until February 16, I’ll be featuring famous rivalries from history, sports, pop culture and other public pursuits. If you’ve ever had a rival, maybe you’ll recognize yourself. Or maybe you’ll just be glad you never went to the lengths some of these people did to put themselves on top.
Rival-rama Rivalry #1: Rachel Berry vs. Everybody
How about we start with one from the pop culture zeitgeist? (Did I even use that word, Zeitgeist correctly? I have no idea...) This is the rivalry that most mirrors my own experiences in high school. While RIVAL focuses on intense competition between two girls, I was more likely to be rivals with several people, either at once or at different times, depending what was going on in our highly competitive music program.
If it was time to audition for the top choirs or for leads in the school musical, my rivals were the girls who had voice types and performing styles similar to mine. If it was contest time, my rivals were other singers—male and female--who might get a 1 (the highest score), while I feared getting a 2 or less. In general, I worried about getting left behind, not being recognized as one of the elite. That’s why I identify so much with Rachel, the diva from Fox’s hit show “Glee.”
Episode to episode, Rachel is seen defending her turf against any and all of her fellow glee club members. Anybody who might get a solo over Rachel (even the adorable and deserving Kurt) has to contend with Ms. Berry’s petulant and ungracious behavior—she may even demand a sing-off.
The writers have softened Rachel’s character a bit lately, but often she's someone you love to hate. I really liked the episode where Mr. Shuester gave a solo to Tina because he felt she needed a boost to her self esteem while Rachel needed to be taken down a peg. Rachel was so horrible about it that she about drove Mr. Shue (and me as a viewer) to distraction. I believe that was the episode where she actually quit the glee club.
Was I as obnoxious as Rachel back in high school? I don’t know. I never marched into our choir director’s office and demanded the spotlight. I don’t think I ever forced any of my fellow singers to do their best “Defying Gravity” against me. But I suspect there were a fair number of people who were like, “Oh man, Sara Bennett AGAIN? Can’t somebody else get featured for a change?”
The fear of falling short, of not measuring up, of not being the best is powerful—especially when the arena is as public, with as many opportunities for “failure,” as singing. It’s no wonder performers can be eccentric, sometimes unstable, and occasionally obnoxious. Looking back, I sometimes wish I’d spent less time worrying about who got the big lead in the musical and more time just enjoying myself. I’m sure I would have been a better friend—and a lot more fun to be around!
What about you? Have you ever had a rival? Tell me about it in the comments (or just leave me a quick "hi!") and I'll enter you in a drawing for a signed copy of RIVAL *plus* a silver star necklace like the one Brooke wears in the book. I may throw some other goodies into the mix as well. The drawing takes place at 10 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 16!