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March 11, 1993 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1993-03-11

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The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. Thursday, March 11, 1993 Page 1

'Don't Tread
On Me'
Respect (ri-spekt) n. 1. Admira-
tion felt toward a person or thing that
has good qualities or achievements,
politeness arising from this. 2. Atten-
tion, consideration, showing respect
for people's feelings.
It's 3:30 in the morning, and we've
been driving all night. We're on our
way to glorious New York City, de-
termined to make this cold, sunless
Spring Break a fun one none the less.
After spending many hours in
such close proximity, it's difficultnot
to have that bonding moment, where
everyone has let their defenses down,
and feels like they can safely share
anything with each other. Like on
this frigid, February evening.

We'd gone through the "most em-
barrassing moments," "first kisses,"
and the like. Then, it moved to relat-
ing our first girl / boyfriend experi-
ences.
My turn came, so I launched into
the story of "Mary" (of course it's not
her real name), the adorable little one
I fell for at the tender age of fourteen.
It was simple enough - the front
porch courtship, a few nervous phone
calls and finally asking if she'd be my
girlfriend.
But over the few weeks that
"Mary" and I were "going steady," I
noticed something oddly cold and
distant about her. Whenever I tried to
hold her hand or show any sort of
affection, she'd stiffly draw away from
me. So I was less than surprised when
she unceremoniously dumped me.
Yeah, my fragile, pre-pubescent little
heart wasbroken, butIwas OK (sniff).
But it was the aftermath of this
whole affair that I had pushed out of
my mind until that night cruising to
New York. A year after the fact, my
best friend "Jane" (and a close friend
of "Mary") confided in me what ex-
actly had gone down with "Mary." A
harsh reality that stung like a knife in
the stomach.
It seems that "Mary's" apprehen-
sion towards affection stemmed from
her being brutally (and repeatedly)
raped by her uncle. And even worse,
becoming pregnant from one such
attack, and having an abortion, unbe-
knownsttoanyone butherself, "Jane,"
and now me.
The weirdest sense of pain, confu-
sion, and sickness engulfed by entire
being. How could anyone be so dis-
eased, so heartless, so utterly unfeel-
ing toputsomeone through suchhor-
ror? What in the world perpetuates
such blatant disregard for another hu-
man being's basic rights?
And what made it even worse was
the intrinsic realization thatthiswasn't
an isolated incident. That this sort of
garbage happened all the time. My
young mind wasoverwhelmed at such
arevelation about the societal hierar-
chy that we are forced to live in.
Now, at the twilight of my illustri-
ous college career, I feel a bit closer to
understanding where all of this shit
stems from. It's a simple matter of
fear. Fear disguised as prejudice and
hatred. In America, it seems to be
focused on us "minorities" - Afri-
can-Americans, Jews, Arabs, homo-
sexuals, etc. And women.
There's a set of code words and
actions used to help keep certain
peoplein theirpredetermined"place."
Like having "Straight Pride Day"
(who cares that heterosexuality is re-
inforced 24-7?) Or putting a "Pussie
Rd" (women are merely genitalia to
be walked on) sign in your window.
Rubbin salt in already gaing

Fanta with Frank

i

by Darcy Lockman

A ctor Frank Whaley has seen
the new Crystal Pepsi, but
he's never tasted it. He does
not want to. "I really prefer
Fanta," he explained. Hmm, Fanta?
While his taste in carbonated bever-
ages may be questionable, Whaley's
acting track record is anything but. At
the no-longer-so-tender age of 29,
Whaley has 23 movie roles and various
stage credits under the proverbial belt.
Since filming "Ironweed" in 1987, he
has gone on to appear in acclaimed
pictures like "Field of Dreams," "Born
on the Fourth of July," "JFK" and
"Hoffa," just to name a few.
Whaley currently co-stars in Holly-
wood Picture's latest release "Swing

Kids," based on a non-fiction group of
rebellious teenagers in Nazi Germany.
Whaley plays Arvid, a seventeen-year-
old with a lame leg and alove for the big
band music of the late '30s (swing).
Arvid's world comes down around him
as his friends join the Hitler youth, and
his country acts out against every prin-
ciple in which he has ever believed.
When the Nazis try to take away his
music, Arvid sees no reason to live.
Solution: suicide; exit Whaley.
"When we first started reading
through the script in rehearsal, there
was a lot of debate over whether or not
Arvid should kill himself. There were
people involved in the production who
didn't want him to. There were others,

myself included, who thought it was
very important to the story. In the build
of the character, Arvid had nowhere to
turn. They stripped him of everything.
When they finally started to strip him of
hismusiche felt thathe wascompletely
outside. There was no place for him,
and he truly didn't belong,"said Whaley.
While "Swing Kids" takes an inside
look at Nazi Germany, it was not the
history that drew Whaley to the film.
"There's this other thing it's about, these
swing kids, which I found incredibly
interesting when I read about them," he
said, "I had no idea there was this kind
of counter culture, this kind of love
inspired by Western swing music."
Although Whaley does not actually
play the guitar himself in Arvid's scenes
("But it looked like it was me, didn't
it?"), he is no stranger to music. "I love
swing music. I'm actually a drummer in
my own band called the Niagaras, a
very popular band (laughs). But I tell
you, I have a real appreciation now for
swing music, especially early swing.
It's such great life-affirming music. I
can see why when people like these kids
heard it, they would just become en-
raged, and want to dance. And that
swing dance, it's almost dangerous, it
gets to a point of frenzy. It's like slam
dancing, only with more finesse, and
the moves are more choreographed."
Because he plays a person with a
disability, Whaley did not get to swing
in the film, much to his chagrin. "I really
wished I had gotten to dance.Especially
when I got over there and Bob (co-star
Robert Sean Leonard of "Dead Poet
Society") and Christian (co-star Chris-
tian Bale of "Newsies") were doing the
classes and stuff like that. They had a
month and a half before shooting, and
they were doing the stuff six hours a
day, eight hours a day. I would go over
and watch and just wish like hell that I

While Whaley did not have to learn
to swing, he did have the difficult job of
learning to walk as if he had a disability.
"I worked with somebody on a few
different limps," he said, "We decided
that his disability specifically was one
hip that was higher than the other. He
was born that way, sort of with like a
club foot. So I watched tapes of people
moving around and walking with that
specific disability. I started walking like
that even when I wasn't shooting. I got
used to doing everything on one leg:"
Aside from either learning to dance
or to limp, the actors in "Swing Kids" at
first also faced the task of learning to
speak with German accents. However,
because of the near impossibility of
getting the entire cast to speak consis-
tently in the same German accent, it was
decided early on to shoot the film with
plain old American pronunciation.
"Early on in the rehearsals we tried to do
German accents, but we all sort of
sounded like Hogan's Heroes," said
Whaley, "But Barbara Hershey and
(Kenneth) Branagh came in and de-
cided they wanted accents. So what are
we going to do? Tell them no, you can't
do an accent? So those two speak with
German accents. The best thing would
be for all of us to speak perfect German
and have it subtitled, but then three
people would come to the film."
Of the filhn work Whaley has done,
"Swing Kids" is the movie of which he
claims to be the proudest (his honest
tone assures that he is not just saying
this because he's trying to promote the
new movie). "I think it's the best film
work thatI've done. I'm also very proud
of 'Hoffa.' It's a brief role, but very
challenging. Danny DeVito and I had to
pace the character because he became
so important at the end, we couldn't
give away that in fact he was the killer.
So the way we did each scene leading up

ders Jimmy Hoffa (Jack Nicholson).
Whaley said, "We were doing the mur-
der scene the last week of shooting (in
Chicago) and it was when the basket-
ball (NBA) finals were going on. We
would shoot at magic hour, at 7:00, half
an hour every night with that light, and
Nicholson was in a hurry to get to the
ball game, every night. If I didn't get it
right the first time, I was blowing his
entire evening. So there was double
pressure on me: to be good in the film
and also enable Nicholson to get to the
basketball game. Before I started the
film I had all these daydreams about
Jack coming overand saying 'Hey, why
don't you go to the ball game with me?'
Absolutely not, he'd blow by me and
I'd be on the ground. There was one
night where I could not get the scene
right, and I was never more nervous,
sweating terribly."
Though Nicholson's hurry to catch
the Bulls managed to shake him up abit,
big names generally no longer intimi-
date Whaley. "When I first started out
(with Nicholson and Meryl Streep in
"Ironweed") I was terrified. I couldn't
even breathe. But it gets easier and
easier. I've started to think of myself
now as more of a peer, rather than a kid.
I'm much more confident in my abili-
ties, in my instincts," he said.
Confident though he may be, ego-
ridden Whaley is not. While he has
worked with Hollywood stars such as
Marlon Brando, Kevin Costner, Tom
Cruise, Meg Ryan, Matthew Broderick
and Barbara Hershey, Whaley does not
yet consider himself a movie star ("But
I would like to be one, someday.").
In an un-movie star fashion, Whaley,
who lives in New York, isnotafan ofthe
California moviedom mecca. "I hate
Hollywood," he said, "Well, I don't like
the way they do things there. It seems
they've forgotten how to make movies.

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