This post is partially inspired by the fact that tomorrow I shall be forgetting all about fixing vending machines for a living, forgetting about my perpetual struggle to get on the housing ladder, forgetting that I live in a country where far right extremism is on the rise and will be heading off to my spiritual home at Donington Park for Download Festival. 5 days of heavy metal, living like filth and drinking a can at 8am without society dismissing me merely as a “Wetherspoons Wino.”
So what does this have to do with films, I hear you ask? Did you blink and miss the transformation of this blog into “Musings of Metal?” Will it be a somewhat tenuous link to how I’ll be filming myself for five days, adding a piano track and creating my own modern day silent film? Sadly not. It’s about a film that means a great deal to me: Rock Star. Y’know, that Marky Mark and Jennifer Aniston film where she’s dressed in leather and he’s a lead singer in a tribute band and gets the chance to be the singer of the band he’s paying tribute to. I can’t blame you if you missed it, I only managed to stumble upon it by chance 4 or 5 years ago, thanks to a former colleague and good friend of mine being incredulous with rage after being told by me that I’d never seen or heard of it. I watched it one night when I was at a loose end, fully expecting a 2 hour Spinal Tap style mockumentary ripping the piss out of a genre and lifestyle I’ve spent the vast majority of my adult life adoring. I fully expected to be going into work the next day armed with a list of faults and complaints and why I hated such a bland and uninspired piece of film making.
But that wasn’t the case. I spent those 105 minutes that night laughing along hysterically and downright adoring the film and was waxing lyrically like a madman the day after at work at what a fantastic movie it was. But why, you ask? It wasn’t generally well received at the box office, or by the critics (it’s 6.1 rating on IMDB is proof of that) and being a wannabe critic myself, how can I explain why the fim speaks to me in such a way that I’m inspired to spend my valuable free time talking about how much I love it?
Many reasons in fact. Films to me have always been about escapism, forgetting about the ills of our modern world and our constant struggles to stay ahead and enjoying a damn good story on screen where we can empathise and can live our dreams which to most are unobtainable in the real world. I dare anyone to say they’ve never been day-dreaming at work, listening to music and picturing themselves up on stage singing songs to thousands of screaming and devoted fans whilst living out a lifestyle of excess, resplendent with limo’s, hotels and chucking TV’s out of windows. It’s not just this though, I could have said a similar sort of thing had I watched some sort of uninspired, self flagellating pile of toss like the Justin Bieber and One Direction cinema events (I’m rather unwilling to call them movies….) It’s a whole multitude of little nods, tidbits etc, such as a young Michael Starr, you may know him as the lead singer of parody act Steel Panther, auditioning alongside Mark Wahlberg for the Steel Dragon singers berth. The two rival tribute acts squaring off against each other in the car park, fighting their respective band members. ZAKK WYLDE! Jason Bonham, Myles Kennedy, amongst other rock royalty. The soundtrack: How can anyone not adore a soundtrack that features Motley Crue, Def Leppard, AC/DC, KISS etc. Songs written for the film (performed by Steel Dragon) which don’t sound like parodies and actually sound like they could, and should, be performed in a muddy field in front of 80,000 pissed up metalhead devotees. Spoiler coming up, although if you’ve read this far then you’re probably familiar with the film already… The film also mirrors reality with Mark Wahlberg giving up on his dream of singing in his favourite band and becoming a lumberjack shirt wearing singer in a tiny cafe right at the start of the grunge movement. It’s never fully implied in the movie but it’s there for all to see.
Not to mention that the film is rather loosely based on Judas Priest, with Tim “Ripper” Owens who was lead singer in a Priest tribute act who managed to live out his dreams and become singer of the band he idolised. If that isn’t a rags to riches story to look up to and be inspired by then I don’t know what is. Did I also mention Jennifer Aniston wearing leather?
Rock Star and heavy metal share so many of the same characteristics. It’s always been the outsider, never really loved or understood by the critics or the mainstream and has always had to fight for acceptance in a world where image and being a pretty boy usually prevails over talent. But there’s a growing number of millions worldwide who adore it and spend their lives defending and championing the genre and the lifestyle. I’ll forever love Rock Star and how much of a true labour of love it is and how it shows off the best of what heavy metal has to offer to the world. Not to mention that it’s still also a damn good rags-to-riches tale of the good guy overcoming all manner of obstacles.
There’s one quote from the film which I believe is a perfect way to end on and it sums everything up in a way that a mere mortal like myself could never say well enough:
“After the nuclear holocaust, the survivors will crawl out of the rubble, in the dark, light a fire and then one man, The Singer of Songs, will sing, and that’s the essence of Rock ‘n’ Roll.”