Thursday, July 08, 2004

Guilt-Ridden Compulsion
Figured I'd stop in and say "Hi there."

Knowing that they intend to turn Spider-Man into a musical isn't exactly a signal like unto the decline and fall of the Roman's worse.

Honestly. The only thing I think that's more pathetic than the state of movies in Hollywood is musical theater. Regular theater is in kinda sad shape to, but at least it tries to preserve it's dignity from what I can see. Although, now that I think about it experimental theater and whatnot also reflects how piss-poor most artwork is these days.

But I don't give a rat's @$$ about experimental theater...I'm picky about art too.

Anyhow, I choose musical theater because it's the famous one. If people go to the theater, it's typically what they go to see.

What's my major gripe against musicals?

To be honest its a godd@m grocery list.

For one thing, I was friends with a member of the theater community in high school. She railroaded this crap down my throat constantly trying to convince me how cool and fun it was. To her, it was just another kind of music. some cases yeah. Take a tune like Singing in the Rain. Other than being the title of the show it comes from, it is in no other way strictly tied to it. Not like that 'when you're a Jet, you're a Jet' song which is striclty West Side Story. But that independence is not true of a lot of it. First, it helps to have a background in what you're listening to. Second, you have to understand that singing/acting at once isn't like your average vocal performance. It's much more affected...and...ummm... overdone a lot of the time. Third, you just kinda have to like that crap.

I didn't.

That's the historical reason. You just get tired of it. Just like you could play Dokken or Britney Spears to me all day, and I'd still think it was crap. (Though I guess I'd take the former over the latter if I had to.)

The next reason I hate modern musical theater is that just like the modern movies, they've just been recycling material. Note I said Spider-Man above. A musical about Spider-Man? How f*cking stupid can you be? It certainly didn't start there. Newsflash to Andrew Lloyd Webber: SUNSET BLVD. didn't need any f*cking songs in it. Not one. Not to mention the fact that had Billy Wilder put songs in it, it would've been much f*cking cooler. Seriously, if you think that Spider-Man's the end of the line, remember some month's ago somebody created a 9/11 the musical.

I only wish I was kidding.

If I recall correctly, it was the story of a ballerina or actress who goes to the big city trying to make it when the tragedy strikes.


Now it's not to say that musical theater has never successfully taken things from literature or history. There's My Fair Lady and The Sound of Music. Then again, the first was a play, and the second was about a performing family. Hmmmm....Let's see, maybe if they stuck with appropriate material, it wouldn't be so bad. Or take Singing in the Rain, which was about the introduction of sound into films and it's effect on the silent performers. See: sound. Just talking in a movie shows sound, but the addition of music above and beyond a score shows how powerful sound can be. All of that makes sense...I can watch it.

Which leads to my third grand-scale reason for hating musicals which is the same reason I've hated most Disney films since the Little Mermaid. It's the self-consciousness. Way back when if there was a song in a Disney movie it was incidental, it came out of the scene. There wasn't any long string of bullsh!t to motivate it. The characters just sort of fell into it. Come to think of it, most of those old musicals I mentioned above also fall into that category. Now it's all about show-stoppers and spectacle. It's about having to have some pop musician or famous songwriter to churn out weak songs for weaker stories, and then have some moviestar weakly belt it out. Everything hinges on that.

There are few things I hate more than to watch one of these things and think to myself, 'Oh sh!t! Here comes another song.' And I feel that every time because I can always tell when it's coming.

Again, it's appropriateness. Alice in Wonderland is one of my favorite Disney movies, and it's got one song in it. It's appropriately part of the scene and I didn't see it coming a mile away. So many of those movies today would be so much better without songs.

Like with the straight-up works like this...

In opera, you can have the brave and dark knight Orlando break into a song. Why? Well, he's singing the whole time anyway...but it's more than that. Opera has gravity. Pieces like the above are from are often grim. They stem from tragedy. Musicals are fluff, and should stick to fluffy subjects. I don't give a sh!t what Rent deals with. By nature, the format renders it fluffy (that isn't to say that doesn't communicate seriously to the right audience, but I go to newspapers for my AIDS and low-rent housing news). I also think it's good for things that are cute and sweet, but it's just not emotionally sweeping. Madama Butterfly cuts me up a helluva lot more than Miss Saigon ever will despite all of the modern razzamatazz.

So treat it like what it is...and choose wisely what you want to do and how you want to do it.

Movies are the same way. If you're making silly crap, admit it to yourself, get over it, and hand in the most fun over-the-top crap that you can. Just don't lie to yourself and call it art.

It's not to say you can't do modern subjects. See, The Rocky Horror Show works because it's about a whole genre, a style, and time period. It wouldn't have worked as Invasion of the Body Snatchers or Flash Gordon the Musical. Those would've been stupid, but Rocky works. It revels in the schmaltz that it is.

Chicago works on a similar level. Dick Tracy or The Godfather the Musical wouldn't. (As a warning, Lloyd Webber, if I see your trollish mug anywhere near Mario'll f*cking be singing...gurgling...choking...and drowning with the fishes.)

Anyhow, the results are the same: Musical theater, especially modern musical theater, sucks. Period.

Doesn't mean it has to. It just does right now.

But no one's gonna listen to a word I said.

Spider-Man the Musical.

It'll be like an Indiana Jones stunt show with a bunch of songs ruining all the cool stunts.

I can't wait. I hope it sinks whoever paid for it.


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