There are some things I want no part of whatsoever. I refuse to ever try cottage cheese; I will go to my grave without even holding a spoonful of that curdled, sour mess of a Steak ‘n Shake side dish. I refuse to accept Barack Obama not only as a viable politician but also as a real human being. (He’s got something up his well-tailored sleeve just like the rest of those scumbag-bags-of-scum that are running for office.) I will never read a John Grisham novel. I may sound defiantly close-minded and stubborn, but I think this just displays my strong moral fortitude.
I have another item to add to the constantly expanding list – I will never see the new film Across the Universe. A bastardization of the Beatles, the movie attempts to bind a love story with show tune versions of The Fab Four’s music. Cleverly named characters such as Lucy, Jude, Sadie (so sexy, right?) and Prudence only make me want to see the film more. You see, they named the characters after songs so they can just throw in a musical number and make it seem important to the movie.
The showy visualizations in the trailers add to the mockery that these filmmakers are making of the Beatles. It’s a computer-enhanced, pseudo-psychedelic world that appeals to 16-year-old drama club girls more than mirroring and complementing the surreal work of The Beatles and the era they represent. It’s like the 300 of musicals. I’d like to be on the set, watching Evan Rachel Wood dance around an empty set with a bunch of dudes with abs painted on them. (I’m pretty sure there are a lot of scenes with prominently placed, painted abs.)
Now maybe I’m being harsh. I also might be slightly biased. The song “Across the Universe” is probably the most covered/butchered of the entire Beatles catalog. So much so, in fact, I don’t know if I would even like it if it wasn’t always torn apart. What comes to mind as the symbolic final nail in the coffin was a certain Grammy performance a couple years back.
In 2005, Slash, Bono, Alicia Keys, the dude from Green Day, Norah Jones, Steven Tyler and Stevie Wonder all stood onstage and collectively murdered the song. I don’t think Alicia Keys had ever heard of the Beatles, and I’m pretty sure Bono thought he was actually a member of the group. There wasn’t a whole lot of talent, chemistry or memorization of the words happening on stage, showing both the ineptitude of modern “superstars” and the untouchable nature of the Beatles’ work. It was as lame as my Catholic high school’s choir singing “Imagine” during a 9/11 memorial service and then mentioning they didn’t condone the atheistic undertone of the song.
People just shouldn’t cover or crap on great music. Let it stand alone. Artists don’t paint renditions of the Mona Lisa and try to sell them to dealers. Poets don’t rewrite published material and try to pass it off as a fun remake. Why should artists or major movie conglomerates be allowed to manipulate great music to make a buck? Don’t see Across the Universe. Just listen to Sgt. Pepper’s, and read a book about the ’60s and ’70s. Seriously.
Brian generally likes musicals and can recite The Music Man in its entirety. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org