RENT: Why so much hate?

EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted: 7/25/12 at 11:04pm
I guess I'm just not sure I like the term victim--for personal reasons--but certainly I don't think they "had it coming". ANyway it's really kind a amoot poit, but it is meant to be set around 1995 right? (I honestly can't remember at all...), when certainly people knew more about the use of condoms and dangers of infection from IV drug use --and I didn't think the characters were meant to have had HIV for all that long (at least Roger-- although that might not be true of Collins and Angel).

At any rate, I do agree about Mark, who I find pretty insufferable, too. I always thought we were kinda meant to feel that way, at least until near the end of the show when he seems to get a bit more self awareness.
SporkGoddess
Broadway Legend
joined:7/27/05
RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted: 7/25/12 at 11:16pm
Oh, really? I thought we're supposed to identify with him. He is the one who starts singing RENT's anthem, "La Vie Boheme" If we're supposed to find him insufferable though, then good job, show!
Jimmy, what are you doing here in the middle of the night? It's almost 9 PM!
EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted: 7/25/12 at 11:24pm
LOL well maybe that's just my view... I do think, obviously, we're introduced into the world of the show largely through his eyes, but I don't think those two things have to go hand in hand.
FindingNamo
Broadway Legend
joined:7/22/03
RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted: 7/26/12 at 12:09am
The thing about people like them, include me and my friends in our younger and more vulnerable years, they DO think they're cooler than everybody else. The hipper-than-thou attitude is starting to crack after the death of Angel, ("It must be nice to have money," "No ****!") and the missing Mimi. They're kind of really getting what's important.
"Colbert is toast after this latest flap." -- Mr Roxy "Read 'Atlas Shrugged'." -- Gothampc
sunnyleo
Swing
joined:1/8/11
RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted: 7/26/12 at 01:06am
It puts me to sleep. Characters are unlikeable. Has a terrible score (except for one song). And just because something is super-popular doesn't make me hate it (i.e Wicked)

Isn't is better to be nine people's favourite thing than a hundred people's ninth favourite thing? You can't please everyone.
andi1235
Understudy
joined:3/15/07
RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted: 7/26/12 at 01:32pm
Personally, I like Rent fine. It's not my favorite show ever, but it's by no stretch my least favorite, either. I was never a Renthead and I didn't find it revelatory or anything.

I saw Rent with my family during a NYC trip sometime during the first year of its run, when I was 17 or 18. We'd all seen Seasons of Love on TV, and my mom went out and bought the CD. She wasn't impressed, but she thought it might be better live.

Once we saw it, I'm pretty sure I'm the only one in my family who enjoyed it. My parents both thought it was loud and stupid, basically. I don't know about my younger sister, but as I recall, she was unimpressed.

Since my mom didn't like the CD, I inherited it, and when I sat down a few years later and finally listened to it, I was more impressed than I had been seeing the show live. I could understand the lyrics, and get the story, enjoy some of the more complex music, and HEAR it better. I agreed with the rest of my family that the live show was just TOO LOUD. I know it was a rock score, which is fine, but when things are distorted enough you can't make out what's going on it doesn't make for good theater, IMHO.

I actually liked the movie BETTER than the show, and from what I understand my parents and sister agreed. I thought the show worked better with the characters being older, actually. I was disappointed that they cut two of my favorite bits (the really complex multi-part stuff in Christmas Bells, and Halloween, which always struck me as rather reminiscent of Sondheim.)

I think the biggest thing I find compelling about Rent was how much POTENTIAL Jonathan Larson had. He was a pretty good composer when he wrote Rent (and Tick...Tick...BOOM, for that matter - I LOVE his Sunday parody!). I find it very sad that we'll never get to see what he would have gone on to write because I think his work would have eventually been amazing, instead of just OK.
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted: 7/26/12 at 01:45pm
I was probably just confused because I thought it took place in New York, Saskatchewan.

Why else would Mimi sing, "I wanna go owwwwwwwww-ooooooooooooot!"?
adam.peterson44
Broadway Star
joined:9/7/11
RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted: 7/26/12 at 02:55pm
"I was probably just confused because I thought it took place in New York, Saskatchewan."

Off-topic Canadian prairie humour - number one tourism slogan in Saskatchewan:

"See all of Saskatchewan - from a chair."

Now back on topic:

I never could forgive the movie for cutting Halloween, my favourite scene from the show, and some of the saddest/most moving parts of Goodbye, Love.

The reasoning behind the cuts in Goodbye, Love was just asinine. On the commentary, Columbus says it would be weird if the roommates sang to each other. Really? You're directing a MUSICAL! If characters singing to each other is too weird for you, pick another project! Yeesh!
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted: 7/26/12 at 03:00pm
The idea that characters singing their dialogue to one another is unbelievable on film keeps returning, despite the fact that characters do exactly that in hits such as HAIRSPRAY and (God help us!) MAMA MIA!
adam.peterson44
Broadway Star
joined:9/7/11
RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted: 7/26/12 at 03:51pm
I've really never understood that attitude. Who do they think the audience is for a film musical? Probably not people who object to characters breaking into song - they won't be buying tickets or buying the DVD's anyway. The people who would be willing to see the film are those who like musicals, and they will just be alienated if songs are converted to spoken (even sometimes still rhyming) dialogue.
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted: 7/26/12 at 04:30pm
Exactly. All theater (and film) is a system of conventions. Characters singing their speech and even thoughts is simply one convention.

But I took Musical Theater History at Columbia from the NEWSDAY critic Martin Gottfried in 1980. (He's the author of that huge, coffee table book with the great photo from A CHORUS LINE.)

Martin gave an entire lecture on how CABARET (especially the film) and FOLLIES showed that the future of musical theater was one in which singing and dancing would occur only when the characters were supposed to be "on stage" within the world of the play.

It was a seminar, so I couldn't literally roll my eyes, but I did sit there thinking of all the counter-examples running at the time and scheduled to open in the coming season.

What CABARET, FOLLIES and even PHANTOM really prove is that audiences are so clever that characters can sing "on stage" and also "on the street" without causing any confusion.
FindingNamo
Broadway Legend
joined:7/22/03
RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted: 7/26/12 at 04:43pm
But what none of those things did was reverse the mainstream slide into belief that people bursting into song is "corny" and "stupid." Which is why the apologist musical form popped up. It's the same reason contemporary people roll their eyes at cowboy and Indian shoot-em-ups. They're corny and old and out of date.

See a preview at a cinema for a movie musical nowadays that actually includes singing (since the marketing strategies usually avoid that at all costs) and you're likely to hear laughter and snickering. And that shows how Gottried was basically correct.

And I don't really want to debate it. Yes yes, we all worship all musicals (I don't but I'm just playing along, I only love the good ones), but they are a hard sell because they just don't work for a large audience segment.

Anyway, this thread is about RENT, right?
"Colbert is toast after this latest flap." -- Mr Roxy "Read 'Atlas Shrugged'." -- Gothampc
Mister Matt
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted: 7/26/12 at 05:09pm
I dunno, I think with RENT the characters are more insufferable because they seem to think they're cooler than everyone else for living the lifestyle that they do. Well, at least Mark does. Maybe I just hate Mark?

Just out of curiosity, who did you see as Mark? I actually saw several and the degree of smugness in the character changed vastly from actor to actor, the last one I saw being the worst. In the original cast, the only character I really saw as displaying the attitude you’re describing was Benny until La Vie Boheme where I felt like they weren’t really being smug, but being unashamed of who they were and the community the represented.
"What can you expect from a bunch of seitan worshippers?" - Reginald Tresilian
CarlosAlberto
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/10
RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted: 7/26/12 at 05:18pm
One thing I do know about ReNt is that those that love it and those that love to hate it are equally obsessed with it.
FindingNamo
Broadway Legend
joined:7/22/03
RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted: 7/26/12 at 05:36pm
I, like every queen in David Drake's generation and the queens who came after us for a number of years, ADORED "A Chorus Line." By the mid-'80s, when I was more out and pallin' around with guys about 10 years older, I was really shocked by how many of those guys either hated ACL from the start or grew to really hate it. Oh they complained about the amplification (as if a lot of their precious '60s shows weren't amplified), about the hype. One of the guys about 15 years older than them HATED "Hair" and said "it was too loud" and he felt like the tribe "was yelling at me, and critiquing me," which of course it was (he was a squaresville medical doctor).

So, I think these things happen. I saw Wicked the week it opened and just plain didn't care for it. The explosion of fandom didn't seem justified to me.

So, ya know, the more things change the more they stay the same.

"Colbert is toast after this latest flap." -- Mr Roxy "Read 'Atlas Shrugged'." -- Gothampc
Updated On: 7/26/12 at 05:36 PM
SporkGoddess
Broadway Legend
joined:7/27/05
RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted: 7/26/12 at 05:51pm
Mister Matt: I can't remember because I saw the tour back in high school, haha. My perception of Mark was more shaped by Anthony Rapp in both the cast recording and the movie.
Jimmy, what are you doing here in the middle of the night? It's almost 9 PM!
Mister Matt
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted: 7/26/12 at 06:16pm
I sort of blocked the movie from my memory after the initial viewing, but I certainly never felt that way from Anthony's performance back in 1996-97. A bit of idealistic immaturity, perhaps, but as Namo said, that was part of the character's journey. Norbert Leo Butz was the only actor I saw play both Mark and Roger and he was excellent as both. Gilles Chiasson's Mark was a bit on the smarmy side in an NYU Film School student way. Matt Caplan really turned Mark into a smug, self-righteous, snarky and bitter person that I simply couldn't stand. So yeah, I could see how that might happen.

I can't believe I actually remember all that. I don't even remember most of the actors I saw in Les Miserables, which is my favorite show and I've seen 15 or 16 times. I also recall several Maureens and Mimis I've seen over the years. And I vaguely remember a tour with an especially pathetic and whiny Roger and a white Tom Collins.
"What can you expect from a bunch of seitan worshippers?" - Reginald Tresilian
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted: 7/26/12 at 06:52pm
See a preview at a cinema for a movie musical nowadays that actually includes singing (since the marketing strategies usually avoid that at all costs) and you're likely to hear laughter and snickering. And that shows how Gottried was basically correct.

Except that Gottfried wasn't predicting film musicals (and he failed to mention that the entire genre would be moribund for nearly a quarter century). His prediction was made for stage musicals, where characters continued quite happily singing "on the street where you live." So, no, he wasn't right, Namo.

But the confusion here results from the way I told the story. You are correct that even after CHICAGO, HAIRSPRAY and MAMA MIA! all passed the $100 million mark, there remains a large section of the audience who considers them corny and old-fashioned, or, at best, suitable for children. We will probably never again see the day where a SINGING IN THE RAIN appeals to all segments of the audience. But one could say that about almost any film genre except, alas, Batman movies.

Now back to RENT...

I think your generational analysis is spot on. (I'm in the ACL-love group.) Which is why I'm reluctant to criticize RENT too harshly and instead try to admit my biases re the show.
Updated On: 7/26/12 at 06:52 PM
EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted: 7/26/12 at 07:09pm
"I was probably just confused because I thought it took place in New York, Saskatchewan.

Why else would Mimi sing, "I wanna go owwwwwwwww-ooooooooooooot!"?"
I think you'd have to move over a few provinces to the East of Sask. for that

I think Namo raises a great point about shows that (to simplify it) get these massive followings and hype, particularly withyounger generations. Some of it also probably stems down to the fact that (with Chorus Line, Rent, and Hair, to use some of the examples given) many of the people who heaped praise on them also did go on about how it was ushering in some new form of musical theatre.

I grew up with that Gottfried coffee table book being my bible, but as I've actually read a lot more of his writing, and not just admired the gorgeous photos, I have a lot less respect for his opinions. Ignoring the famous examples of his veiled homophobia (he seems to be one of the last remaining critics who still holds on to that popular 60s view of all these homosexuals taking over the theatre and writing straight characters who theys hould know nothing about--like the attacks that were popular on Williams and especially Albee), his opinions often don't seem to hold any real weight--his (gorgeously illustrated) Sondheim book is even just filled with mis-information.

WHat I find odd is how many movie musicals now feel the need--due, I can only assume, to the belief that people will only really accept characters singing to each other, as opposed to performing, when it's either camp (Little Shop, Hairspray), or not at all--change through sung musicals to have dialogue. Rent, Dreamgirls, even Phantom to a lesser extent did this (and it sounds like Miz may be doing so as well), when surely with audiences growing up with music videos, etc, these shows actually would work better if they remained through sung as films--there's only the initial moments to adjust to.

So many people I know had the same experience as I did of seeing Dreamgirls in the theatre, and as soon as they finally had a song that was essentially sung dialogue and not a performance, people actually could be heard in the theatre saying "Wha? This is a *musical*?" As Namo pointed out, much of that is due to marketing (the biggest example being Sweeney, where I believe the major ads didn't even show ANY singing--but hey, I guess in that case it worked as a somewhat difficult film made a profit by selling the Burton and Depp element and not the Sondheim one).
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted: 7/26/12 at 07:34pm
I think you'd have to move over a few provinces to the East of Sask. for that

I admit it's all rather a blank to me between Ottawa and Kamloops. But then I feel the same about the U.S. between Pittsburgh and Las Vegas.

***

I don't think HAIRSPRAY as a movie was all that camp. In fact, the lack of camp seemed to be the major complaint of those who loved the stage show.

I wonder if the perception problem re musicals isn't has much the fault of the marketing department as anything. If kids can sit in front of MTV for hours on end (and mine sure did), why can't they watch a 2-hour musical comedy? We know they sat through the godawful HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL (at least 1 and 2).

I realize we're talking a different scale of success, but one of the reasons HEDWIG worked as a film was because it treated each song as a music video.
Updated On: 7/26/12 at 07:34 PM
EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted: 7/26/12 at 07:43pm
No worries--when I lived in Montreal I realized for most Canadians it seems to all be rather a blank between Toronto and Vancouver... or anywhere East of Mtrl for that matter.
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted: 7/26/12 at 07:48pm
I've spent two weeks on Cape Breton Island and even an evening in Port-au-Basque, Nfld. I should get points for that, I think.
EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted: 7/26/12 at 08:07pm
Further East than I've been... :P
Reginald Tresilian
Broadway Legend
joined:6/12/08
RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted: 7/26/12 at 08:41pm
I have a CD of "Traditional Fiddle Music of Cape Breton Island, Vol. I."

Can I get an honorable mention?
SporkGoddess
Broadway Legend
joined:7/27/05
RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted: 7/26/12 at 11:12pm
I've been to Manitoba. But then I'm in the Midwest so I'm already in "the middle of nowhere" according to most people on this board.

Jimmy, what are you doing here in the middle of the night? It's almost 9 PM!
Updated On: 7/26/12 at 11:12 PM
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
RENT: Why so much hate?
Posted: 7/26/12 at 11:52pm
Spork, I'm sure there a circle of "Very Important Area" that surrounds you wherever you go.

Eric, by all means try the all-day ferry ride from Halifax to Newfoundland. Lots of big waves, greasy food and general vomiting.

It was like sitting through RENT. (Not really, but I can't resist. LOL)