And most importantly: Those who enjoy the movie Rhinestone and those who don't.
One of my friends has a blog called Bad Shakespeare. Recently, he posted about not liking the movie Tree of Life. When telling someone that he didn't like the movie, they told him he was watching it wrong and didn't understand. That's a silly argument and clearly my friend got the movie; he just didn't like it. I also don't like this movie and I get it. I'm not wrong and neither is Bad Shakespeare or the people who liked the movie. That's the beauty of life - we all get to like what we like and have opinions. That's what makes us interesting (and infuriating).
After reading this post I got to thinking about a conversation I had back when I was teaching. I taught 9th and 12th grade at a small Catholic school in Meraux, LA. In addition to teaching, I also ran the drama club. My first year at the school was kind of a rough one: the new performing arts center was supposed to open in time to do a fall and spring show but it kept getting delayed. I ended up only being able to do a spring show and it had to be a musical. My principal "suggested" that we do The Sound of Music. I reluctantly agreed and started working on getting the production off the ground.
I was meeting with the vice principal one day and he brought up the musical. We got into a heated discussion about high and low art. He was the kind of person who didn't like musicals or pop culture. He liked opera and the classics and thought that The Sound of Music was ridiculous and unnecessary. Now I'm not really sure what he would have preferred our high school drama club to perform but trust me The Sound of Music was totally appropriate and mildly entertaining.
I don't really like the notion that some forms of art are better than other forms simply because of their value or their perceived importance in culture or history. The concept of high art (or culture) typically focuses on art that is reserved for an elite group of people (the aristocracy or wealthy). Low art (or popular art or culture) tends to be that which is mainstream and the art of the masses. Some (like my VP) consider it trivial or dumbed-down. Personally, I don't think life would be that interesting if you didn't have both forms of art. They need one another to exist and to thrive. We need Beethoven as much as we need boy bands. Graffiti on an abandoned building in Detroit is as interesting and expressive as Chinese calligraphy.
And this brings me back to Rhinestone. Obviously, I love movies and I watch a lot of them. I like most genres and am an equal opportunity viewer. I enjoy the big summer action hero movie as much as I love Wes Anderson's latest movie. I've seen my share of "important" and "artistic" films and have liked some and hated others. I love John Waters as much as I love Fellini. And I love Rhinestone.
Sometimes you just want to sit and enjoy a ridiculous movie about a sassy country singer in New York named Jake (Dolly Parton) who has 2 weeks to turn a cabbie named Nick (Sly Stallone) into a bona fide country star or else she has to sleep with her sleazy manager. It's pretty funny and totally mindless and probably the epitome of low art - and that's just fine with me. A few of my favorite moments:
- Sly's hair is higher than his IQ.
- There is nothing subtle about this movie - from Dolly's costumes to Sly's sleeveless shirts to the dialogue.
- Sly Stallone gets a screenplay credit for this one - maybe he's a secret comic genius.
- "I know what howdy means. I read. " Nick's funeral director dad upon meeting Jake
- "His brain is not finished growing." Nick's mom on Nick. I feel like I should use this quote all the time.
- Jake tries to teach Nick how to be Southern - walking like a cowboy, talking like a cowboy (you know, because Stallone isn't hard enough to understand), and eating like a cowboy (mixing your peas and no butter on a biscuit). Maybe this should be a real thing: Southerners can teach non-Southerners to be more Southern. I imagine this would include courses on how to dress appropriately, food, alcohol consumption, and how if you can't say anything nice you should sit next to me.
- Nick's first country song after he sees the "country light."
- That super awkward moment when Jake and Nick dance. And then kiss in the hallway. And then they have sex. Yep, that happened.
- And then Nick becomes totally country. As if by magic.
- By the way his stage name is Howlin' Nick Martinelli.
- This movie costs $98 on Amazon. I don't understand why that is so I'm thankful for my DVR and the cable station Encore. I can watch this movie whenever I want.
- And my favorite, "Freddy, there are two kinds of people in this world and you ain't one of them." Preach, Dolly, preach.
Life is all about balance and it's important to remember that in your cultural life too.