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A Monthly Culture Matrix For the Cosmopolitan Traveler

Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story

YouTube / Online / Music / Stage

In 1987, Todd Haynes made his first film, Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, a musical biopic about the singer who died from anorexia nervosa at age 32. Instead of actors Haynes used Barbie dolls, and his script was in the style of after-school specials. Both a campy cautionary tale and a sendup of prime-time moralizing, the film enraged Carpenter’s parents and brother. They sued over music copyrights, effectively removing the film from circulation in 1990. The original is lost, but the internet salvaged a blurry bootleg version—now on YouTube, origin unknown—giving the movie a second life and a cult following. —C.J.F.

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