Spare Me My Life From this Monstrosity


Having posted an introduction to the topic, I should provide something to follow it. I am somewhat anxious about this post, because it is where Dale discovers what a blogging whore I am, in that I am going to do to him what I have done for many years to a great many others: rip off something I wrote in an email to him and use it for a wider audience. The people I have corresponded with longest or most often have gotten used to this: stuff I write to them in letters or email shows up in a blog entry or a poem or an essay all the time. A few people have reacted with indignation and told me that it's not cool of me to recycle for wider consumption something I've written in a personal letter to them; I deal with that by refraining from ever telling them anything interesting enough that I'd want to use it over.


The primary thing you should know about what it's like to meet Dale is this: he is slightly less interesting in blog-form than he is in real life. His blog might capture all the Passion of the Dale, but it doesn't capture the magic. (And yeah, I'm saying that both because I'm a suck-up and because it's true.)

I was very excited when he suggested we see "We Will Rock You." I am, of course, a long-time Queen fan, so much so that I would dance alone to Bohemian Rhapsody. I figured it might make such exciting News of the World that even Flash Gordon would have a Sheer Heart Attack, because capping a few days of fun in a foreign city with a night of Classic Queen would be almost as good as a Night at the Opera or a Day at the Races, and all that Jazz. I mean, I hate to make it seem like all I wanted to do was Play the Game, but there it is.

And I was wrong.

But it was terrible. I wouldn't have missed it for anything, because theatre THAT bad is hard to come by, and seldom so laughable, so I'm not saying I am sorry to have seen it--quite the contrary, in fact. It was a fascinating cultural experience. You could easily imagine these old burnt out rockers sitting around one Tuesday afternoon watching some Judy Garland/Andy Rooney film on cable, just for the hell of it. They're sullen and bored at first, but someone starts getting excited when the kids in the movie decide to put on a minstrel show, complete with offensive and outdated stereotypes, a plot so full of giant holes you could fly Flash Gordon's space ship through any one of them, a predictable romance that is supposed to create tension and drama but only underscores how vapid the characters are, all built around a bunch of songs that don't really have anything to do with each other. "Hey!" the burnt-out rockers say to one another. "We could do this! We could do this with our songs...and we could make a hell of a lot of money!"

The thing that really made me crazy is that the show didn't realize that it was exactly the thing it pretended to criticize. The basic premise is that 300 years in the future, entertainment has been thoroughly commodified and is controlled by a large corporation dedicated to A) making money and B) reinforcing the status quo by C) manipulating the emotions and thoughts of large audiences who are particularly undiscerning and indiscriminate in their musical and dramatic tastes, and will therefore consume with pleasure any old schlock the large corporate interests see fit to offer them.

Hard rocking pop music, however, has the power to change all that, to topple the status quo, because "the electric guitar is one of the most powerful weapons of freedom ever invented"–at least, if you're a young straight white guy. Because, as we were constantly told, the reasons REAL rockers made their own personal music was to A) express themselves and B) foster long-term monogamous unions with the bad-ass chick of their choice. (Maybe I'm wrong about this, but I somehow thought the second motive wasn't all that important to Freddie.)

At intermission I said to Dale, "What I love best about the show is its insistence on moral and artistic ambiguity, its refusal to reinforce a simplistic binary of good versus evil. I LOVED the self-critical moment, right after the Killer Queen talks about how she wants to manipulate audiences, make them feel what she wants them to feel, when the cast demanded that the audience chant along with them and wave their glow sticks [yeah, you could buy souvenir glow sticks] and the whole point was for us to refuse! I just couldn't believe that more people didn't get that."

There were other things that really bugged me.... like the fact that the rendition of "Flash" Gordon consisted only of some people undergoing some dreadful electric torture shouting "Flash!" a few times. I always adored the high-flown silliness of the Flash Gordon soundtrack and wished they'd done more with it. I was likewise upset that we didn't get more than the first few lines of "Bohemian Rhapsody."

I was annoyed that a character takes excessive pleasure from the pain of her "daily bikini wax," because the whole point of any type of waxing is that the hair doesn't grow back for a while, so you CAN'T have a painful daily bikini wax, because simply having slightly warm wax applied to hairless skin and then peeled off it doesn't hurt--in fact, it's actually quite soothing, which is why a paraffin soak is a really nice addition to a pedicure. Didn't these people have a dramaturge to say, "Hey, this part doesn't actually make the slightest bit of sense"?

I hated that "global warming" had raised sea levels drastically, but you could somehow travel from Las Vegas to Wembley Stadium in England on a Harley. Again, where the hell was the dramaturge?

I hated that the evil villain's main henchman was made up to look like Max Headroom, because Max wasn't all that evil, and that the evil villain destroyed her henchman without having a clear rationale for doing so, aside from being evil.

Most of all, I hated that although the great evil of the plot was some dreadful corporation controlling seeking to control every aspect of human life, it was personified by a middle-aged fat black lesbian. I am curious: is there a single truly powerful corporation in the world today controlled by a middle-aged fat black lesbian? (If someone can provide me with documentation of one, I will send him/her my ticket stub, a personalize note and a five dollar bill, American.) It could have been an interesting move--to make someone in one of the least powerful subject positions in contemporary society the most powerful person in a future society--but it wasn't reflected upon or analyzed; it was simply played for laughs and for the easy way it opposed and therefore underscored the heroic nature of the young, attractive (albeit too short), straight white guy.


read the follow up We Will Mock You.


I fully support your use of the earlier email Holly and will refrain from name calling because I'm a whore of many distinctions. If I didn't crib from myself, I'd just walk and write around with a lot more 'um' and 'er' noises.

On my ride home, I couldn't wait to tell two of the regulars who'd enjoyed the show how much I thought it smelled. They both insisted that a full version of 'Bohemian Rhapsody' was done which we both know it wasn't. I'm betting they're still trying to figure out what to do with all their souvenir tat now that they've stopped waving their hands in the air.

Loved your review and points! And the sucking up! I'm always good with that.

Did you manage to get EVERY album title in there? Good job!

You have seen the movie Flash Gordon, right? It's one of my favorites.

Geez. The musical sounds worse here than it does on Dale's blog. If it comes to New York, I hope to see his version.

Wow, an entire evening of Dale + Queen together in person.....
Seems like the sort of thing that should be auctioned on Ebay.

Great description of the show....btw How many people have made pilgrimages to Dale?

Hi Dale--maybe our practice of reusing our clever statements is one more reason we get along. I just want you to know that any time I'm in Toronto I'll be glad to be your date to the dubious theater offerings your other friends resolutely avoid.

Hi Juti--I don't think I got EVERY album title in there, but I admit I called up a Queen discography and tried to get MOST of them in. And I have seen Flash Gordon, WAY back when it came out. As I remember, my family went for Family Home Evening, the whole famn damily (as my father would say), my parents and all five of their children. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

xdell--just remember that I was the one who wanted to stay; Dale was the one who wanted to leave.

Chancelucky--I think a better idea would be to make one of the Mastercards out of the thing: You know, "Dinner at Peter Pan, $97.43. Tickets to We Will Rock You$112.60. Subway fare home: $5.50. Spending an evening with Dale? Priceless."

I don't know why it gets under my skin so much, but it just seems criminal to use only part of "Bohemian Rhapsody." I mean, really. Back in my mis-spent, Wayne's World wannabe (or modelling) youth, we used to take pride in singing the whole song in the car along to the cassette. And even a few years ago, when I was invited to a grad-student function at a karaoke bar, the highlight of the evening was to see some of the most combattive critical theory students sing the whole song before a cheering, crowded bar. The song has so much integrity; how could they dismember it so? Monstrosity, indeed.

I've always been very flattered to see something you wrote to me show up in other places. It says to me that you write to me with the same thoughtfulness and creativity that you would for something to be shared publicly.

I saw "We Will Rock You" in London with my friend, Mel, who happened to be there the same week I was. (I'd blame the alkapop for our theatre selection, but that overindulgence came later). And in a late-night, not-as-good-as-Python way, it was fun. Beyond cheesy, but fun, glowsticks and all.

Don't worry about the email thing. Dale practically emailed me his entire post about the show; it's like I was a test market or something.

I don't know if you know me, but I am an avid Mormon watcher and am SO excited to start reading every post you've tagged as such!

CP is the wind beneath my a...never mind.

CP, I hope you'll enjoy my postings on Mormonism. They're always there to please.

Wow! I read Dale's review, and he's right... yours is way more comprehensive.

I have but one thing to add: Oprah.

Just sayin'...

I have but one thing to add: Oprah.

I knew someone would suggest her.... but Oprah is not a lesbian, or if she is, she's not out--her sexuality is not on display, as the Killer Queen's was, but is intentionally kept cloaked as much as possible. And really it's not so much that she controls a corporation, as she has incorporated herself and the information she provides.

Can shares in her company be bought and sold? I never thought to wonder about that until now.

You've hit the nail on the many heads of this hydra.
What I couldn't understand was the enthusiastic Wooo Wooooing in the audience and the standing ovation. Why? Who were these woo wooers that seemed to love it so much. Were they plants or do people actually like it this S&M musical stuff? Am I missing something?

Anyway, Bohemian Crapsody is my take on the whole thing. My wounds are still fresh but I am recovering, slowly.

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This page contains a single entry by Holly published on June 28, 2007 1:01 PM.

Socializing Beyond the Blogosphere was the previous entry in this blog.

We Will Mock You is the next entry in this blog.

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