Meryl Streep as The Worst Singer Ever and Why We Love Awful Failures

Posted on February 17, 2015 at 3:57 pm

Why is complete artistic failure so fascinating? I’m a huge fan of Epic Fail: Bad Art, Viral Fame, and the History of the Worst Thing Ever by Mark O’Connell, who pays tribute to the “sort of accidental surrealism” of bad art from people who have no idea how bad it is. He describes a mental condition called the Dunning-Kruger effect. “Not only do they reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices but their incompetence robs them of the inability to realize it.” The people with the lowest competence were also the most likely to overestimate their ability, especially in areas like humor, logic, and grammar. It is kind of the opposite of the Imposter Syndrome, sort of being your own courtier in the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes.

One legendary example of this syndrome was a wealthy woman named Florence Jenkins, who wanted very badly to be a great opera singer but who had a dreadful, off-key voice. Her still-popular recordings include The Glory (????) of the Human Voice. Meryl Streep will be playing Ms. Jenkins in an upcoming film, with Hugh Grant co-starring. Can’t wait to see it. In the meantime, here is the original.

And a reminder of what it is supposed to sound like.

Related Tags:


Actors In Production
THE MOVIE MOM® is a registered trademark of Nell Minow. Use of the mark without express consent from Nell Minow constitutes trademark infringement and unfair competition in violation of federal and state laws. All material © Nell Minow 1995-2024, all rights reserved, and no use or republication is permitted without explicit permission. This site hosts Nell Minow’s Movie Mom® archive, with material that originally appeared on Yahoo! Movies, Beliefnet, and other sources. Much of her new material can be found at, Huffington Post, and WheretoWatch. Her books include The Movie Mom’s Guide to Family Movies and 101 Must-See Movie Moments, and she can be heard each week on radio stations across the country.

Website Designed by Max LaZebnik