Monday, April 26, 2010

I'm Gonna Learn How To Fly

Why somebody would decide to remake the 1980 film "Fame" in 2009 is not illogical -- American culture is currently obsessed with the idea of "making it," whether you're a cook, a singer, a clothing designer, or even someone with no perceivable talent other than the insane drive to appear on a reality TV show, we've got a place for you on national television, a way to make your name "known" in America's Next Top Whatever. So, deciding to remake "Fame," a movie about high school kids in an intensely competitive New York City performing arts school... it's not a hugely difficult sell to the studios. But really, dear director, whoever you are, did you have to make it so cardboard, so G-rated, so bereft of flesh & urgency? Did you have to cast only the lead kids who'd look good on posters, the ones with... well, talent, but for the most part, boring, boring, boring ass talent? Did you have to - OH MY GOSH - so deeply insult the insanely and uniquely talented Bebe Newirth by casting her as a dance teacher who never appears dancing? Pardon me while I puke all over my tap shoes / comfort Bob Fosse while he turns in his grave. Did you, dear director, have to cut almost every interesting and weighty plot line? Do you think there's not BUCKETS of grit in 2009 for you to deal with? What the hell are you doing? Do you think you don't have any responsibility to the world we live in? How can you make a movie about the theater and teenagers and New York while wholly ignoring all of the issues - teen pregnancy, homosexuality, poverty, addiction, abuse - which the 1980's movie frankly and lovingly embraced? (Poverty and violence, while alluded to, are kept way off screen -- in the 2009 version, we see nice apartments, parents who are, at worst, busy but present. In the 1980's version, we see the squalor. We get exactly why these kids are so desperate to break out of their circumstances. ) Dear director, aren't there dozens more issues now clear in light that was somewhat murky (or did not exist) in the early 80's - New York post-9/11, AIDS, eating disorders, our culture of hyper-spectacle, mental illnesses, etc etc- couldn't you have chosen to embrace something... I don't know, important? And instead, your only big cultural update was to give the whole thing a little hip-hop flava, and get a few kids involved with the TV business. What the fuck, dear director. Shame on you. P.S. The new songs pretty much sucked too.

Here's the 1980's real deal:

Forgive the outrage, chickadees. "Fame" has been my favorite movie since, oh, I don't know, age 15. Seeing it helped me to live in that dreamlife as long as it made sense to. Anyway, yes, apologies, the tiny room in my heart where musical theater still lives & breathes got all irritated & I had to let it speak.

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