DOO WOP, DAVIES AND DEFRANCOS (Why I Still Need Rock and Roll: Session #17)

A few nights ago I ventured to the opening weekend of FSU’s fall movie series for a viewing of Hot Fuzz (2007), a modern take on “black comedy.”

It was a midnight show, preceded by a montage of what I think were coming attractions. The montage was quick-cut visual clips with a soundtrack. The students around me kept laughing at visual cues which must be inside jokes for their generation because I didn’t get a single one of them, though it may just have been a case of being preoccupied with trying to identify the catchy song on the soundtrack, which sounded so good in context (the context of me being odd man out in a college audience who were laughing their heads off at things like exploding heads) that I was relieved when it turned out to be this, because it meant I wouldn’t have to track it down:

I think the head exploded on “listen to my heart pound” which is so post-modern it’s pre-modern, which I finally realize may have been the whole point–to render everything moot.

It wasn’t necessarily the best thought to have once Hot Fuzz got going because the whole movie seemed bent on making the same point. It’s not good to be depressed about the depraved state of the very modern, very present world when you should be laughing at all the things nobody else gets–and not laughing when they do.

Not the first time I ever felt that in a movie theater, but it was the most complete example of the experience I’ve had, one I’ll always be able to look back on as a point when I drifted just that extra bit further from the world as it is that going one step further (or being pushed one step further, if you like), might turn me  from a bemused skeptic into a mere cynic.

In was in that frame of mind that I heard the only clever use of music on the Hot Fuzz soundtrack and experienced something akin to existential despair at being put ever-so-briefly back in touch with the human race–something engendered (because it was never before necessary) by not a single one of a thousand previous encounters:

After that, I just laughed along with everybody else (though not at the pulverized head–destroying heads had become a theme), sat it through to the end, and got out as quick as I could.

Sometimes we save ourselves, though. When I got in the car to go home I had the last disc of The Doo Wop Box II cued up in the CD player. I’d played the first half driving in.

Good thinking. I played the last half driving home.

But really, I was fine before I cleared campus. By the time the second track came on in fact.

By then, I was thinking, Take it Gene….

You should only take so many chances, though.

The next night was American Psycho.

I skipped that one.

10 thoughts on “DOO WOP, DAVIES AND DEFRANCOS (Why I Still Need Rock and Roll: Session #17)

  1. NDJ

    Since I don’t understand either pre-modern, modern, or post-modern, I may not be understanding your post. But I do have an anecdote that I think ties in with yours:

    A number of years ago I was working at this large firm with more than 300 employees, most of them in their twenties. In one of my first times of hanging out with them and chatting, I told a story to them from when i was their age.

    When it was over, one of them said, “Neal, you’re such a pimp,” and walked away.

    I looked at him, then turned to the other guys and said, “Was them fightin’ words?”

    They assured me I had been complimented.

    The one thing that many of them pressed on me was the need to see the funniest movie ever made: NAPOLEON DYNAMITE.

    Berni and I squirmed through about 15 minutes before turning off what had to be the most gawdoffal, unfunniest movie ever made.

    I didn’t exchange movie, music, or book recommendations with them after that…


    • Methinks you’ve got the gist of it mate!

      I should have mentioned that Hot Fuzz is typical of modern “satire” in that it wanders all over the place and what it’s mostly satirizing is other satires. It can never be all that funny (no matter how clever it is, and much of Hot Fuzz is very clever) because there are no sacred cows left to poke. When everything is sacreligious nothing is. The Kinks song was slightly unnerving because it suggested a much better movie (maybe something Christopher Guest might have made) lurking within–and I already knew that movie wasn’t going to be Hot Fuzz.

      I’m probably lucky in that none of this makes me feel old, because I never fit in with my generation either! (Except for Father Guido, I probably couldn’t get five laughs out of Saturday Night Live’s entire run.)

  2. NDJ

    If Father Guido Sarducci made it over from LAUGH-IN to SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, that’s about the only thing in favor of the latter show I can think of—except for their musical guests, who were often fabulous!


  3. Rowan & Martin and the Smothers Brothers and the Monkees made television in the second half of the ’60s enjoyable!

    Oh, yeah, and that show with the guy that plays Denny Crane—that was good, too …

  4. Anyone ever point out to the producers of the later shows that by giving into the least intelligent brand of Political Correctness and changing “where no man had gone before” to “where no one had gone before” that the pronoun “one” is not human-centric, and so can refer to any species. Which makes the statement completely incorrect and ludicrous!

    Just sayin’ …

  5. I’m trying to catch up on your posts and come to this one having just made a mental note to spend what time I can this weekend watching 50s movies–the gaudier and kitchier the better (because they won’t seem so to me—I love them uncritically!) It’s like I need an exorcism from all the modern stuff I have watched recently.

    To your posting: I have attended every contemporary movie to experienced the same “anachronisity” (my word) my whole life. And the reverse feelings whenever I attend a “retro” screening. Feeling familiar with a past I never knew and disconnection with the present is all I know!

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