Monday, November 08, 2004

Rent, the Movie: It's real irony, Alanis...

Yes, friends, it's true, they're making a movie out of Rent. Whatever's left of Jonathan Larson's soul must be atwitter with rage.

I think every person of my age (late teens, early 20s) much have gone through a period of intense Rent-listening. At least, everyone I know seems to have caught this bug; I myself caught it late, during the last two years of my college career. I still gleefully listen to the soundtrack with my roommates.

Though Rent contains a good message of social justice, I'm in no small measure dismayed at the number of these people who no longer understand Rent's unique context, set in the early-nineties fight against AIDS which was politicized to an extent that few of our age seem to recall. How many of us actually know what ACT-UP is anymore? Or, for that matter, what the high holidays are? -- unlike ACT-UP, at least that institution still exists outside France...

But more saliently, Rent has always existed on the edge of contradiction, milking its popular success to the profit of whoever ran it, while at the same time condemning capitalism and its ruthless amoralism, epitomized in Reaganism and turn-of-the-century neoliberalism ("When you're living in America/You're what you own"). The theater operators consoled themselves by giving away front-row seats for "cheap" on the day of the show, but there's nothing quite like the irony of sluttily-dressed tween tourists in the Big Apple, reeking of perfume and aglow with glittery clothes, feeling anti-establishment and rebellious for not only seeing the play, but for sticking it to the man by seeing it cheap.

Now, of course, Rent will have sold out not only its message and whatever vestiges of anti-establishmentism it had left, but also excellent musical stylings and staging, as it enters the most mainstream of mediums: film.

lest you think the production is being produced by some great art-house, it's not. It's being produced by Miramax, which has some arthouse creds, yes, but also brought us Chicago. Director Chris Columbus, who made the first two Harry Potter flicks and Home Alone doesn't exactly fall in the genre of an indie film-maker.

At least the cast looks good: Taye Diggs, Rosario Dawson...if nothing else, they're making sure that even if the characters don't want to make money, that the movie will.


Molly said...

Um, does this have anything to do with Rosario Dawson's new haircut? Because her haircut is sort of bad.

Nick said...

lol. no clue, molly. but nice to know someone's reading.

Anonymous said...

Not sure about Rosario Dawson, but the Taye Diggs choice wasn't purely profits-driven... he played Benny in the original cast, before anybody had heard of him.

--A former RENT junkie / fan of WWPD