|Could you tell which one is Angel, i.e. supposedly more|
|unique than the others? If you'd never seen the musical?|
They maintain the illusion that they are being unique and different and pushing others to be unique and different by saying so over and over and over again.
Mark films things and talks; Roger (who at least has the merit of trying to differentiate himself) sulks and talks; Mimi actually has a paying job as does Joanne but when they are with the group, they just talk; Maureen blathers on and on and on.
In fact, the great irony of the musical is that the one person who actually does something, Benny, is treated with utter antipathy by the others; not only does Benny pay for Mimi to go into rehab, his business plan would raise the standard of living in the area and bring in money to build homeless shelters and free clinics. Where does the group think money for homeless shelters and free clinics comes from? It certainly doesn't come from a bunch of Bohemians who can't even pay their rent.
The musical, while lightly acknowledging that the group isn't exactly changing things (it's not their fault; it's America's fault!), falls back on the belief that talking loudly and aggressively (e.g. sticking bumper stickers all over one's car) is the solution to society's ills.
The most startlingly cliquey part of the movie occurs when Roger and Mimi decide to date only after they learn that the other person has AIDS. Yup, that's right: AIDS, the ultimate ticket of belonging. Go get yourself some today!
The musical really hits a low point in the gang's treatment of Benny, the only character who demonstrates any real individuality.
|Diggs in Equilibrium|
It is hard to take a 2-hour musical based on this mindset seriously. It is one thing to accept the trials and tribulations and poverty of a calling (be it art, social justice, or taking the veil); it's quite another to shove those trials and tribulations and poverty in people's faces as if said trials and tribulations were automatically ennobling.
Not that I regret watching Rent (after it was over anyway). It would be hard to understand the history of musicals without seeing it—and my somewhat less negative review of the actual musical can be found on the Mike-Kate Video Club alongside a review of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Oddly enough, I found the latter, though far more visually disturbing than Rent, far less irritating. It's the difference between a show (TRHPS) that says, "Here's an alternative culture. WOW!" and a show (Rent) that says, "Here's an alternative culture. You must admire us! Love us! Appreciate us! If you don't, we hate you."
|The Ever Astonishing Meatloaf.|
|Tim Curry struts in the background.|
Tell me who you are. Don't tell me how to feel.