15 July, 2007

In Which I Defend My Near-Irrational Hatred of Musicals

In recent weeks, a number of people have asked me whether or not I'll be seeing the remake of John Waters's classic Hairspray. My short answer is "No." Since I am both long-winded and somewhat self-important, the post that follows is, for all purposes, the long answer.

Normally, I detest remakes, but there is one film genre that I detest even more, and that is the Musical. I love John Waters like my dogs love day-old scraps of meat from Whole Foods--which is to say, a hell of a lot. The original Hairspray, which I consider to be one of the best moviefilms ever made, was/is not a musical. I understand that the remake is based upon the Broadway musical version of the film, however, one question remains: Why would you produce a remake of a musical instead of a remake of the film upon which it was based--when the film was, well, way better?

Additionally, why on Earth would you cast John Travolta, who is arguably one of the least talented actors to ever leave his horrendous marks upon the world of modern film, in a major supporting role, especially when the original performance cannot, in any estimation, be topped? Travolta's utter idiocy surrounding his role has been covered in more detail by various bloggers, so I won't go over that.

Anyway, I hate musicals**. I hate musicals because they are sunny. I hate them because the main characters are almost always young, good-looking, able-bodied, and always in pursuit of the Guy, Girl, the American Dream, or what have you--whatever they pursue, it is supposed to be Something That We Can All Relate To. I hate musicals because in the world of musicals, it is somehow "realistic" for characters to break into song and/or unbearably cheesy dance numbers. There are certain components of musicals for which I reserve the most scorn. In list form, these are:

* The Opening Song in Which All Major Characters and Conflicts Are Established
* The Song in Which the Protagonist Bemoans His/Her Lot in Life
* The Song in Which the Supporting Character Does the Exact Same Thing
* Song Wherein the Protagonist Falls in TWU LUV
* Song Sung by Antagonist
* Instrumental Dance Number or Dream Sequence
* Action Sequence in Which the Protagonist and True Love Sing to Each Other, Whilst One is in Great Peril
* Song in Which the Protagonist and True Love Declare Their, Well...Love
* Reprise!
* Giant Ending Song

Yeah, just like in real life! Turning Hairspray into a musical pretty much neuters the original message of the film, which was that "different" people are often more interesting than those who are constantly trying to live up to society's various ideals. How the hell do you put that into a musical? You don't.

My ideal musical would be offensive, slightly disturbing, very, very dark, and only include musical numbers in, say, dream sequences. The score would be co-written by Diamanda Galas and Laurie Anderson, with lyrics by Tori Amos and Jarvis Cocker. Also, Willem Dafoe would have to appear in it at some point, preferably in a singing role. Icelandic music video director Floria Sigismondi, I'm sure, could potentially make a fabulous set designer.

Anyone want to volunteer any story ideas for an offensive, dark musical? Thus far, I'm calling it AnnaHam Presents: The Darkest Musical Of All Time.

**Except for Dancer in the Dark, because it's one thing most musicals are not: DARK. Also, Bjork is in it.


baby221 said...

Don't be silly. People randomly burst into song all the time. ;)

I'm a fan of musicals, personally -- I blame it on all the exposure to Disney animated feature films in my youth.

Beatrice said...

Well, I wouldn't call it offensive, but if you're looking for dark you can't do much better than Sondheim's Sweeney Todd. One of its musical numbers consists of two of the leads making bad puns about human-meat pies. It has no better excuse for the songs than any other musical, but its chord structures -were- designed to bring to mind those in old horror films, which I think is pretty neat.