Saturday, March 11, 2006

Upon finally seeing RENT again, on video, ten years later

The reason child molesters are so successful in their perpetration is that they are, in addition to being sexually deviant, incredibly charming to a child. They’re nice and friendly and give you attention when maybe not too many people are. Growing up in insular, rural Midwest, RENT did just that for us in 1997. Years before it was even possible to see either the Angel or Benny touring company in Chicago, the original cast recording was making the rounds around the queer/outcast circles my sophomore year in high school. The popularity of the show exploded overnight—the show choir performed Seasons of Love, one of the lesbian couples on campus performed “Light My Candle” for one of the hall talent shows, the theater groups did improve games with some other shitty song. RENT touched us in bad places but no one else touched us at all.

I suppose I should explain that I went to kind of a different high school. IMSA was chock full of progressive-enough liberals, the overflow of cornfed academics trying to make a living in the tundra of Northern Illinois. Our entire sophomore class read “And The Band Played On” and Spectrum was founded years before other high schools even dreamed of GSAs. RENT was exactly the kind of romantic notion of queers, PWAs and Greenwich Village artists that the instructors found palatable, and Larson’s rock songs appealed to musical theater geeks AND their friends.

I was 15, and other than RENT, we had Go Fish, arguably less polished and accessible, Bar Girls (ick), My Own Private Idaho (don’t get me started), and a few other texts to keep us satiated. But basically, the soundtrack of my mid-high school experience was you-know-what. I only ever saw the show once—in Chicago. I don’t remember much of it, other than I was surprised there was a cohesive story line—I never knew anything that wasn’t on the recording, and even now, I have a hard time keeping the characters and plot lines straight. I was floored when I found out that Mr. Rapp played the one with the movie camera and not the guitar player. Ten years, folks.

Watching RENT, the movie, watching those morons dump flaming trash onto the street and show up to PWA meetings with a motion picture camera, I feel ashamed I ever fell for this stuff in the first place. I feel used, but I also am lucky for having figured it out in the end at all. Jonathan Larson, you can never make it up to me, what you have perpetrated on my body. I’d kill you a thousand times and wake you the fuck up and kill you again if I could. You make me feel dirty. “One Song Glory” still breaks my heart.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

musical theatre people aren't geeks, now people who hang out with musical theatre people, that is suspiscious.