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October 28, 2014 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-10-28

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6 - Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.coma I

6 - Tuesday, October 28, 2014 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycorn

at 'Rocky

Super-gr8 movie!
Thought-provoking yet
disjointed 'hite People'
Justin Simien's to relate. The discussion that Republican Party." in its own right in a stirring
we've had here on our campus And so first time writer- narrative of its own. But in
debut spreads itself for so many years is addressed in director Justin Simien turns trying to showcase them all,
unforgiving exactitude In "Dear his film into a decided polemic, Simien struggles to do justice
too thin White People." sorry-not-sorry style. His to each one and each of these
Sam and her team at the Black script is mouthy, verbose and students comes across as a stock
By OMAR MAHMOOD Student Union are fighting for brutal. Beneath the film runs an character.
Daily Arts Writer their right to keep Armstrong- undercurrent of constant angst The exception is a fulfilling
Parker, the historically Black over identity, and a contempt personal arc in Sam. By the film's
"You're listening to Winchester residence hall, in opposition to for the white establishment end, she shows a vulnerability
University's only college radio the Randomization of Housing on the elite American campus that speaks to a depth behind her
station." Act. Their inflammatory rhetoric that Winchester represents otherwise one-faced militant
A smug-looking woman with is met with resistance and scorn and that Sam calls "Fletcher's demeanor. Her father is white,
her hair in from the rest of the campus, Plantation." and since she was young she
a bun leans especially from Kurt Fletcher "Dear White People" is an has been filled with insecurities
into a mic, (Kyle Gallner, "A Nightmare on ensemble film. But Simien about her own identity, and they
radio gear Dear White Elm Street"), the spoiled son stretches himself thin in trying are transposed in Freudian ways
on. In a voice of the school president. He and to portray every single way that onto her relationship with her
that suggests his elite crew decide to throw a Black student can "survive in white boyfriend. She fears the
Samantha State Theater a wildly offensive African a white world." There is Coco Black Student Union will not
White (Tessa and Rave American-themed rager at the (Teyonah Parris, "A Picture accept her for it, and so Simien
Thompson, end of the year on the same night of You"), whose straight hair adds another aspect of drama
"For Colored Cede Red as the donors' dinner (surprise). weave comes to symbolize her as she navigates between her
Girls") has just Sam continues, "A minimum hurting desire to be white. boyfriend and the guilt she feels
about had enough, she opens requirement of Black friends There is Lionel (Tyler James in thinking she's betraying her
the floor for the contemporary needed to not seem racist has just Williams, "Unaccompanied community.
college social justice debate to been raised to two." Minors"), estranged from his The drama is contrived, and
take to the big screen. "Dear Of course, she is often met Black community because of his though it is unpredictable, the
white people..." with scorn from other Black homosexuality, but a "Negro at story very quickly becomes
The beat drops. Time slows students. Troy Fairbanks the door" for the white friends a mess. The amount of
and headsturn.Ridiculously and (Brandon Bell, "Family Tools"), he makes at a campus humor coincidence in the film often
stereotypically dressed white the son of the Dean of Students, magazine. renders it ridiculous. Simien
people turn around in affront, shrugs off the movement. "I just Simien wants each of his did bill his film as a satire, but
looking as if they've been don't get it," he says. "I mean, characters to stand for a the exaggeration and overdone
plucked out of the ''50s, compiete I haven't run into any lynch typified struggle being a dark- drama instead make it more like
with suede briefcases and Ivy mobs." skinned girl, being a gay Black a soap. In any honest estimation,
League caps. The campus is the Reggie (Marque Richardson, man, being a Black man who the film is not the fulfilling
fictional Winchester University, "The Newsroom") from the has to "act white" to become story it wants to be - but it
a prestigious institutionto which Black Student Union retorts, class president. Each of these does warrant some thought-
people of Ann Arbor will be able "Yes you have. It's called the struggles can be explored provoking questions.

Why do we play music at par-
ties? It's not so I can pretend
to be super interested in the
apartment's sound system while
I'm waiting for my friend to get
back with a
drink. And
it's not so I
can ironical-
ly raise my 1 , '
eyebrows and
smirk when
Lines" ADAM
comes on. THEISEN
It's because
"Countdown" blasts through
the speakers we all can jump
up and down in unison and
shout along. It's because when
an old '90s favorite like "Semi-
Charmed Life" sneak-attacks
the playlist everyone can do a
double-take, then look at each
other's faces in surprised glee.
It's because music is the great-
est bonding agent our society
I was lucky enough to catch a
performance/screening of "The
Rocky Horror Picture Show"
along with hundreds of other
people (mostly Central Michi-
gan University students) in
beautiful Mt. Pleasant over the
weekend. For those of you who
bury your heads in a pumpkin
patch every Halloween, "Rocky
Horror" is a sexually-charged,
entertaining-as-hell '70s musi-
cal that has gained probably
the largest and most enduring
cult following of any film ever.
Put on by a theater group at
CMU, the show I attended on
Saturday had a 45-minute, four
part costume contest(with'
winners that included Swedish
Chef from The Muppets and
"Sexy" Finn from "Adventure
Time"), toast, rice and play-
ing cards tossed around the
theater at appropriate times in
the film and a cadre of hecklers
stationed in the balcony. Add all
that to a "shadow cast" miming
everything that was happening
in the film on a stage in front
of the screen and the show was
one of the most uniquely enter-
taining events I had ever seen.
(The State Theatre does a yearly
"Rocky Horror" screening as
well, but its lack of a shadow
cast and pricey prop bags meant
that it paled in comparison to
the one I saw in Mt. Pleasant.)
One thing that isn't particu-
larly unique about "Rocky Hor-
ror," though, is the music. Most
of the numbers are generic
old-school rock 'n' roll songs.
So generic, in fact, that one of
the hecklers' "call-backs" is a
"Greased Lightning, go Greased
Lightning!" that fits in perfectly
with a song's beat. In fact, if
one watches the movie without
a massive audience, one might
think that, without the musical
element, "Rocky Horror" would
still be the weird, campy phe-
nomenon it is today.
No way. If the film was just a
science-fiction B-movie parody/
tribute, sans music, we'd hear
the phrase "Rocky Horror"
today and think someone was
talking about a loose woman in
the Colorado Mountains.
I've been listening to the
"Rocky Horror" soundtrack
practically nonstop since I got

back from CMU, and I've found
that I'm mentally filling in all
of the "call-backs" from the
theater's extravaganza. It just
seems so wrong on its own. I'm
listening to "Over At the Fran-
kenstein Place" and hearing
the echoes of some guy yelling
"Hey Janet, what's up yer ass?"
and I have to fight the urge to
yell "Fuck the back row!" when
"Science Fiction/Double Fea-
ture" is playing in my ear.
I noticed the need for com-
pany more than anything
during "Time Warp," an early
show-stopper. All the costumed
fans get out of their seats and
follow the directions of the
song. Jump to the left, step to

the right, put your hands on
your hips ("Ohhhhhhhhh shit!"
we scream), bring your knees
in tight. Follow that with some
pelvic thrusts (while chanting
"group sex, group sex, group
sex") and all of a sudden I felt
perfectly at home with all these
weirdos, performing incompre-
hensible rituals and bonding
over a shared love of camp and
bad taste
Weirdly enough, I felt the
same way when I saw Pearl
Jam play at Joe Louis Arena
over a couple weeks ago. You
see, I grew up with all of the
classic '90s grunge and alter-
native bands playing on the
radio - Pearl Jam, Nirvana,
Red Hot Chili Peppers, even a
little Sublime. And don't even
get me started on "Smooth."
But the effect of those songs
being drilled into my head
from such a young age is that I
pretty much hate all of them.
I'll change the station imme-
diately ifI hear the opening
chords to "Smells Like Teen
Spirit." I'll roll my eyes at "Give
It Away." I'll probably puke if
I hear Eddie Vedder sing "Jer-
emy spoke in class today" again
(which thankfully, he didn't do
in Detroit).
I'm not trying to take any-
thing away from these classic
songs, but I've chewed on the
music so much in my life that
it's become entirely flavorless.
To that end, before the show I
was loudly proclaiming that I
didn't want to hear anything
from Ten, Pearl Jam's first and
most recognizable album.
Cut to over two-and-a-half
hours into the concert (that's
btt a typo - the lsiidi'was that
spectacular), and Pearl Jam is
playing "Alive," that song you
know even if you're not sure if
you know it. Mike McCready
is playing the guitar solo that
closes out the song, and it's a
solo that I've heard probably,
hundreds of times before, but
he's playing it with this entirely
different kind of power and
energy. The notes are the same,
but flannel-wearing fans are
holding up their mostly empty
beer cups and pumping their
fists and singing along and I
realize this song is a classic!
And I'm so happy to be witness-
ing this performances with
thousands of other people who
love Pearl Jam and know all
the words and are just so happy
to be seeing this band live in
Music brings us together like
that. There's a reason so many
couples are brought together by
one person inviting the other
to dance. There's a reason why,
when 110,000 people are shout-
ing in unison at The Big House
on Saturdays, they're singing
along to a fight song. Music
gives us a shared ecstasy that
opens new doors of friend-
ship, love and camaraderie.
At "Rocky Horror" the songs
forced us to be weird together,
first awkwardly then with reck-
less abandon, and at the Pearl
Jam show, the old '90s classics
they played were beloved by
everyone in attendance (myself
included, eventually) and gave
the crowd a chance to let loose
and remember how great the
band's work is.

At parties, or any other
kind of social event, we need
music because it starts us off
on the right foot with strang-
ers, because we remember all
the other good times we've
had while we're listening to it
and, most importantly, so when
that week's No. 1 hit song (or
even something as old-school
dorky as "Don't Stop Believin'
") comes on we can sing along
with people with barely know
and people we love and bond
over danceable drumbeats and
soaring, crescendoing choruses.
Theisen wants to put o
fishnets. To help get them off,
e-mail ajtheis@umich.eda.

RELEASEaRE- Tuesay, Octoer 28, 20"4
Los Angeles Times Daily Crossword Puzzle
Edited by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols Lewis
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