This post is my way of giving respect to Carl Scott even while it simultaneously holds Cameron Crowe movies in utter contempt.
Carl tells us that the way of rock is a delusion. However it is apparently a delusion true to one’s own eroticism. Unfortunately the individual fandom of rock discovers itself at the simultaneous same time that the sexual revolution is at its most emphatic in its own truth. In his take of “Almost Famous,” Carl claims that there is no formation of sexual passion. Is it because scientific and secular single mothers raise their sons on their own–sons who are obsessed with rock ‘n roll? It is interesting that Carl doesn’t mention the musical education that the film’s erstwhile rock journalist’s sister leaves for him. Of utmost importance in this education is “Tommy” by The Who–the “deaf, dumb, and blind boy.” In comparison to the band Stillwater, Carl wonders why this band in its mediocrity cannot make music like The Who—or even Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bookends,” another musical LP beyond what the band Stillwater could ever make and that is important to young William’s education.
According to Carl, to be a part of rock ‘n roll one must be a part of the whole of its lifestyle of taking drugs and having sexual relations with whomever. For whatever reason that I don’t understand, Carl thinks the Cameron Crowe movie “Almost Famous” is a movie that provides a way to speak the truth of this demented reality of what it means to be rock ‘n roll. That this movie sucks in too many ways never crosses his mind.
Perhaps this movie sucks in the way that all of Cameron Crowe’s movies suck. Overly sentimental tales about issues that no one could ever give a care—this is the ouerve of a man that makes movies about, at best, kick boxers (“Say Anything”), or at worst about sports agents (“Jerry Maguire”), or even worse a remake of a bad Spanish movie “Abre los Ojos” called “Vanilla Sky”—which had the requisite Tom Cruise overacting scene. At least “Almost Famous” spared the audience such a joke of such a Tom Cruise overacting scene saying “You complete me.”
I respect the depth of the character study in Carl’s analysis of rock music in “Almost Famous,” and even more how the sexual revolution connects to themes of Jane Austen with the harmonies of the Beach Boys in this particular Cameron Crowe movie of “Almost Famous.”. However, at the end of the day, the defiling of the young man journalist (William) is not that big a deal. It surely wasn’t rock ‘n roll, and insofar as it had ethical connotations, it was already corrupted by the jackassery of what was considered to be the spirit of rock ‘n roll. Remember, Penny goes to Morocco, where she will smoke lots of opianated hashish, all the while having soul communions with strangers overlooking empty town squares and ports.
But “Almost Famous” is such a bad movie. My ending for for Penny Lane–drugged out and far away from home in an exotic locale–is more interesting than anything than Cameron Crowe ever did.
If one wants to watch “bad movies,” then one ought to watch Brian De Palma’s “Dressed to Kill,” “Blow Out,” or “Body Double.” They are much more interesting for the same themes that Carl emphasizes without the sentimentality that leaves one with nothing but shameful sentimentality. Regarding themes of innocence and the need for education in a tradition, a tradition that is worthwhile preserving, all the while questioning beyond what is conventional De Palma is superior to the the trivialities of Cameron Crowe.
BTW—De Palma deliberately eschews rock ‘n roll music as a soundtrack in his movies (he uses electronic pop by Pino Donaggio in several films)—that is he eschews it until and unless he wants to spoof a popular song like “Relax” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and then he uses Donaggio again.
In his post, Carl made me think of The Kinks song, “Rock & Roll Fantasy.” Enjoy.
In defense of Carl and against my black bile, let me suggest another Kinks song–Catch Me Now I’m Falling.