Saturday, March 17, 2007

Bono, Kelly, and the 300

Okay, so apologies for the no postings for the months. In my defense, I got a new job that pretty much completely wiped me out and has somewhat taken me off the track in terms of following a lot of my favorite pop culture websites. However, read a book this week that is worth commenting on, saw a movie I need to talk about, and heard a song that must be highlighted. So, from slightest to most interesting:

1. Kelly
Okay, so I've never been hugely up on music, but the Altguy has gotten me hooked on Sirius radio, and has thus introduced me to completely silly songs by Kelly. Shoes is about, well, a bitchy mean girl who wants to buy shoes, and Let Me Borrow That Top is about, yes, you guessed it, a bitchy mean girl who wants to borrow her friend's top. I will say, Let Me Borrow That Top is a better song than Shoes, but both crack me up. They're totally silly, and sometimes I think that music, and indeed, a lot of popular art in general, will collapse under it's own self-seriousness.

Which, actually, brings us rather handily, to item number 2 on my list, a completely overblown and too serious movie:

2. The 300
Let's make sure the record is straight here. I like a lot, not all, comic books. Readers of this blog know my love of Neil Gaiman and the Sandman, and maybe are not as aware of my complete admiration for Alan Moore (even if he does look like a crazy hermit in his photographs). I think The Watchmen is still one of the most amazing comic books ever written. Also, let me say that I like stylish looking films. My problem with The 300 is that it's all style over substance. I'm not even going to get into any historical inaccuracies. I am interested in classical history, but I know crap-all off the top of my head about the Battle of Thermopylae, but I do know that my emotional reaction to the film was, "And then what?" I didn't care about one character, Spartan society is so unappealing that I didn't care that they were beating off the barbarian hordes, and Persian hordes so unbelievable that I didn't take them seriously as a threat (mutant monsters? For real?). The movie took itself way too seriously, with a speech that echoed, even if unintentionally, Henry V's exhortation to his troops to battle the French (Sort of a combination of "Once more into the breach, dear friends" and "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers") that left me wishing that I was actually watching Henry V. I just couldn't care, because, as stated, I wasn't emotionally involved with the film in any way. I will say that it's technically a very interesting movie - I hesitate to call it beautiful, but it's leaps and bounds ahead of a lot of green screen films. I just didn't really know what to make of it. In my mind, a movie that doesn't elicit some sort of reaction, either positive or negative, qualifies as an abject failure.

3. Killing Bono
Speaking of art that threatens to collapse under its own self-seriousness, U2 has always sort of fallen into that realm for me. Don't get me wrong, I like them. I always tear up at New Year's Day, I think The Joshua Tree is brilliant, but when Bono started meeting with the Pope and campaigning for debt forgiveness for the third world, I thought to myself, "Hold on here, why is Bono the spokesperson for these causes?" I just thought it was weird that a rock star suddenly had the ear of all these well placed politicians. And I couldn't get past the fact that Bono is, well, a rock star, and not an economist. I'll admit, a rock star is sexier and more well known than a economist, but still, it's weird. Well, I just finished reading Killing Bono by Neil McCormick, a school friend of Bono's. McCormick, now a music critic for a British newspaper, wrote a book about his own frustrated attempts to break into the music business, and his jealousy of U2 in general, and Bono specifically, and how this hounded him through his young life. I will say, he managed to change my opinion of Bono's self seriousness. It's clear from this book that Bono doesn't really understand why he's the one in the position to lobby for these political changes, and that went a long way towards increasing my goodwill toward him. But don't read the book for insights into Bono, he's a presence but a minor player. Read it because McCormick's memoir is and affecting and funny book about almost making it in the business.