Dolly Parton’s signifiers are at variance, allowing for her prismatic sign.
She is a highly visible culture icon who is a rhetorical text; she articulates as an artifact in popular culture, a semiotic sign of meaning. To study her is to perceive and understand a personal and particular imagery, leading to full understanding of her myth and ironic status.
Parton is part of a gendered industry that produces contradictions; furthermore, she is an example of romantic irony and pastiche. Her rags-to-riches narrative is complex, and her romantic signifiers yield to stylistic representation in a postmodern industry.
She is an entrepreneur, an actress, a songwriter, and a songstress, and she is accomplished at all of these roles. She is also very shrewd at presenting her myth; she uses much ironic play in revealing her pastiche. She is a self-parody and a matrix in which many elements are embedded, and all her talents contribute to her semiotic status. Semiotically, Parton exists in an ideological site of struggle where constant tensions exist; including her outrageous costuming versus her spirituality.
This according to Dolly Parton: A semiotic study of her life and lyrics by Maureen Cecile Modesitt, a dissertation accepted by Ohio University in 2001.
Today is Parton’s 70th birthday! Below, her signature hit Jolene in 1988.