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Hedwig, meet crazy/beautiful.
Submitted by domesticat on 14 November 2001 - 11:18pm
The drive to write can be as ephemeral as a smile—fleeting, brilliant, and then—gone. I’ve put off writing for the past 24 hours in the hope that the need to push words together into a coherent whole would come to me.
Perhaps it’s because I’ve fired off a daunting number of emails in the past few days. Perhaps because I’ve been a bit tired, spending a bit more time reading, and putting my creative energies into a couple of websites. Or maybe it’s just that trying to come up with moves for playing Photoshop Tennis against Noah zap my brain.
A combination of all of these, I think.
Kat and I went to a very deserted movie theatre to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch late this afternoon. We were the only two people in the movie theatre, and even though no one else was there, I felt guilty for talking during the movie. I’ve had too many years of steeling myself to be absolutely silent while movies play; it’s a difficult habit to break if I’m not at home, sitting on the couch, with a remote control firmly in hand.
I still don’t know what to make of Hedwig. I walked away amused, confused, not completely sure of what I’d seen. I’m still not entirely sure. I made a point to read over Roger Ebert’s and James Berardinelli’s reviews, and I’m still not sure. I had a pretty good handle on things until the last scene…
Unless one uses a butterfly metaphor, and then it begins to make a bit of sense.
I’m not so certain that the movie was as good as everyone told me it was. I think it was interesting, and thought-provoking, and the lead actor put on (probably) the performance of his life—but I came away unsure, questioning, shaking my head—yet smiling.
I suppose this is a good thing. Contrast my reaction to Hedwig to my reaction to crazy/beautiful, which we watched last night. The last 40 minutes (or thereabouts) of the movie did a great deal toward making an apology for the first 40 minutes, which were inane, dumb, and mostly pointless.
I compare the teenage story of ‘crazy/beautiful’ to the teenage stories of Cameron Crowe, and I must say that Crowe’s versions fare better in every respect.
Don’t believe me? I submit three movies for your viewing pleasure: Almost Famous, Fast Times At Ridgemont High…and, dare I say it, one of my top five favorite movies of all time, Say Anything. All three managed to portray teenage life realistically—pimples, warts, hormones, emotions, and parental struggles—with laughter and, yes, tenderness.
There’s no need to talk down to the viewing public about what it’s like to be a teenager. We know; we’re required to go through the process to become adults. Now, granted, I’d prefer not to ever have to repeat the process, but I do remember.
In return I look at what ‘crazy/beautiful’ attempted to accomplish. They managed to craft a movie about teenage rebellion while missing out on the deeper, richer storyline that was lying right in front of them. So, yes, the protagonists are a rich, troubled white girl and a poor, determined boy whose parents emigrated from Mexico.
I would’ve gladly passed up on the sex scenes to see the first time that the rich white girl tried to honestly talk to her boyfriend’s mother (who is only seen speaking Spanish). How would they have reacted to each other? Would the girl learn to respect someone else’s traditions and values? Would the mother be able to see past the cultural differences and accept the girl who loved her son? What about the mother’s family? What about the girl’s family and their reaction to her boyfriend?
So much material left untouched—in favor of showing the girl and her friend drunk at parties and coloring each other’s fingernails with permanent markers.
I might not have completely understood Hedwig, but at least it gave me something to chew on.