I finally saw this show tonight. I listened to the soundtrack a ton, before losing the album in a hard drive crash. Seeing the stage production was nice; there were a handful of good bits not captured by the soundtrack. It’s isn’t nearly as good if you know the music going into it, but it’s now $55 off-broadway now. Go see it.
The show’s very existence is a little depressing though: an entire Tony Award winning musical to tell a generation of 20-somethings “Life is Hard” in the style of the shows we watched that told us “Life is Easy.”
Disney’s animated movies used to be pretty fantastic. I don’t know what happened. I remember seeing Lion King, Little Mermaid, Beauty and Beast and Aladdin as a kid and those movies still hold up as classics. They took a step down with Mulan and Pocahantas, but they were still pretty good. Then we got stuff like Treasure Planet and even the much hyped return to ‘Disney Magic’ with Lilo and Stitch failed to excite, especially compared to PIxar’s offerings. I’m sure someone far more interested than I can detail why exactly Disney’s films became so bad.
Interestingly, after Pixar management took over Disney’s feature animation department, the first thing they did was reopen the hand-drawn studios. The Princess and the Frog comes out this fall and looks to be pretty good. Hopefully it is.
I am an atheist, but I grew up Episcopalian, and you’d best believe that we learned about the Bible. (We also learned about drinking martinis, wearing Liz Claiborne, and other things that fall into the category of How To Be A WASP, but that is another subject altogether.) Anyway, Jesus had two rules, okay?
1.) Love God. Just God, the only God, no other gods of any kind. Got it? Good. That one’s pretty simple if you’ve got the “believing in” part down, which I don’t, but whatever.
2.) Love your neighbor. Love other people, treat them as you’d like to be treated. You know the drill. This one seems to be more complicated for people, but it doesn’t seem all that complicated to me.
There’s no part of this two-rule system that includes rules like “take what you think is yours because you are the only person in the world who matters,” there’s no, “kill everyone with whom you disagree,” there’s no, “hate people for their own good.” Love your neighbor. Simple concept, difficult execution.
Exactly. I am of the “Jesus is awesome” persuasion myself (in the non-atheist sense) and this is part of why I have such a hard time finding a church to attend. (The other parts are that I’m lazy and I don’t like going to church by myself.)
I have family who attend Unitarian church - that might be a good option for you. United Church of Christ, maybe, too. Especially if you are down with the trinity, since the Unitarians ain’t down with that shit.
I am also in the catholic upbringing-turned-atheist category. Transubstantiation be MAD disbelief-inducing, y’all.
I’m still firmly in the ‘Catholic’ category, but the early Church made a couple moves which I think, in retrospect, may have been a bit of a dogmatic overreach. But the church is the spotless bride of Christ, yada yada yada.
Christianity, and I think Catholicism in particular, has a couple very cool insights into human nature and morality, so it’s always nice to see it embraced even from an atheistic perspective.
One thing I didn’t realize or appreciate until recently was just how necessary Christ is in the Christian understanding of God. Humanity is, by default, imperfect (original sin). God, a perfect being, seeks unity with this imperfect being. That is logically impossible. So what does He do? He makes Himself human. Salvation doesn’t come from man reaching God’s level; it comes from God reaching man’s level. That’s a pretty cool understanding of the divine.
Another interesting thing, anthropologically, is the Christian correlation between weakness and moral strength. Most pre-christian cultures celebrated the victor, the strong, the powerful. Christ brings the radical alternative that it is the weak and innocent who are most holy, and is promptly ignored for the next 2000 years (and counting).
I just finished Dinesh D’Souza’s What’s So Great About Christianity, which is a defense of Christianity from an atheistic perspective (atheistic meaning without ‘divine’ arguments). He’s got some pretty good arguments historically and philosophically that range from convincing (science says time and space are products of the big bang, ergo a metaphysical realm apart from time and space predates the big bang) to the interesting ( how do protons know to act like protons, and the astronomical (in both the literal and figural sense) the odds of life existing are) to the easily dismissed ( gee, nobody invokes atheism for comfort during a crisis!) I don’t think it’ll change many minds, but if you’re open to its concepts it’s interesting.
Being human is hard (assuming you aren’t a sociopath). I’m fine with anything that gets you through life being a good person, and I think the 2 rules mentioned above are a pretty good baseline for a universal ‘good’.
But just so we’re all clear, Christianity, and specifically Catholicism, is the One True Religion (tm) ;)
At the end of the musical Rent, the character Roger manages to revive a dead Mimi by singing a song to her- a perfect song, a song that Roger has spent the entire play to that point trying to write. Unfortunately, the song, “Your Eyes”, is easily the worst song of the whole musical, possibly in the running for worst contemporary musical ballad of all time.
I’m trying to think of other examples of this phenomenon of art-within-art falling far short of it’s intention. That terrible painting of her mother that Rachel Leigh Cook unveils at the end of She’s All That comes to mind- everybody is all “YOUR PAINTING IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING I’VE EVER SEEN”, when not only is it generally a poor painting, we’ve seen better paintings by the character in the same movie.
Do any other examples come to anybody else? And for that matter, do you think the artist in a work of fiction always doomed to creative output lesser than the work in which they exist?
I’ve noticed this as well and have a theory about it. ‘Art Within Art’ fails for 2 reasons. First, it becomes diluted. A photo of a painting is less affecting than the painting itself; even moreso a film. The more abstract our connection to a work of art becomes, the less we personally can appreciate. One of the best scenes is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is when Cameron stares into A Sunday in the Park. I think it succeeds so well because it’s not about the painting; it’s about the experience Cameron has with the painting. Compare that to She’s All That; the focus is on the work and it’s quality. Maybe at a personal level the art really is wonderful; the media between us and the work prevents us from appreciating it.
The second failure, stemming from a real or perceived lack of quality, is audience discrepancy. Most are created by fictional characters is bad. We know it’s bad, as an audience. But the characters in the film are telling us it’s brilliant. At a very base, it’s saying, “No, audience, you are wrong.” Any film that argues with its audience like that is bound to fail. Hamlet 2 does exactly this. About 15 minutes of the film is a time dash and montage through a stage production which we are assured is insane and offensive but also brilliant. Except it’s not. It’s terrible. The audience in the theater knows that it is terrible, but the audience in the film assures us that, no, it was actually brilliant. No, it wasn’t; you can’t lie to us like that.