Friday, September 25, 2009
Fame: Pretty Good, ActuaTHEY DID WHAT???
Despite my reservations, I saw Fame tonight. It was pretty good! Except for one aspect that was completely infuriating and disgusting and more retrograde and vile than anything shown in the 1980 version. WHOOPS. What follows is a quick, non-spoilery breakdown of the performances, followed by a SPOILER WARNING, followed by the infuriating part. (Although I should point out that Fame, like both the original film and the play, has no plot, so there's not much to be spoiled.)
The Kids We'd Heard of Before: Little Panabaker was quite good! So was Anna Maria Perez de Tagle, who really, really needs a better stage name, but who can apparently do justice to a script that's neither Hannah Montana nor Camp Rock. Kherington of So You Think You Can Dance turns out to be a mediocre actress, but she was also, oddly, a mediocre dancer - technically fine, but nowhere close to the entrancing uber-goddess she was supposed to be. Asher Book of V Factory was definitely the weakest link acting-wise, and though his singing was not bad, he sounded...well, like a member of a boy band, which didn't really fit in with songs like "Someone To Watch Over Me."
The Kids We Hadn't: All quite good! Naturi Naughton is rightfully going to get a lot of praise for her voice. None of the others were real standouts to me, but they all did very well.
The Grownups: Should have had more to do - at least, Bebe Neuwirth, Kelsey Grammer, and Megan Mullally should. They didn't have much to do besides expose the soft fleshy underbellies of their students, and Megan's one song was a disappointment, but they captivated the viewers' attention (particularly Bebe) in a way these wet-behind-the-ears young actors haven't yet learned to do. (And one scene made me want epic fanfiction about how Kelsey Grammer's character is in love with Megan Mullally's. I DON'T KNOW.)
And now, for the part that pissed me off...
SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER
Little Panabaker and Asher Book play aspiring actors who start dating. At a party, Andy, a former student of the school who is now a regular on a TV show, approaches Little, compliments her on a recent performance, and suggests she come by the set to meet the casting director and audition as a day player. He's also clearly into her, although it's not clear if she knows that. She's thrilled at the professional opportunity, and gives him her number. Asher comes in just in time to see her apparently give some guy her number and accept a kiss on the cheek from him, and storms out. She explains what happened, apologizes (even though she didn't do anything wrong), offers to never talk to Andy again if that's what Asher wants, and then placates him by inviting him up to her empty apartment. So...placating the angry boyfriend by telling him he can veto who she talks to and then offering sexual favors (it's not clear how far they go, but they're not going to her apartment to play Parcheesi)? Uh...sounds great.
Then she goes to Andy's set and is invited into his trailer. He tells her the casting director isn't there, but wants them to make a video, and oh, here's a kissing scene in the script - all a very transparent attempt to get into her pants. She doggedly attempts to act the scene a couple of times, but finally realizes (or accepts) that this isn't legit, tells him off, and leaves. Good for her! In the original film, something similar happens but the girl doesn't get the courage to leave, and I was pleased that Little was able to do so.
Next scene: she's telling Asher what happened. She's clearly very upset, and with good reason - she was just betrayed and molested.
He gets mad at her.
His girlfriend was just SEXUALLY ASSAULTED, and he yells at her while she cries that she knew all along what was going to happen, that she was using sexuality to get ahead, and that if being famous means that much to her, fine, he's done. Then he storms off.
Some time later, at a party with mutual friends, she apologizes again for hurting him and asks if they can ever get past it. He doesn't answer, but later in the scene takes her hand, which apparently means that he's forgiven her.
For being MOLESTED.
This movie blames the victim of sexual assault for bringing it on herself. Her boyfriend essentially calls her a slut and a tease and breaks up with her because she was tricked and violated. This didn't happen in the 1980 film, or the 1988 play, when female characters found themselves in similar situations - situations which turned out a lot worse for the girls in question. All they received was sympathy.
No, it's not until 2009 that we're told that a 17 year old girl who trusts a former schoolmate not to take advantage of her is BAD and WRONG for DARING to be alone with a man without her boyfriend's permission. It's not until the 21st century that Fame wants us to join this supposedly likeable, upstanding boyfriend in shunning a girl who has just been through a traumatic experience. It's not until now that we're expected to applaud a steaming pile of misogyny in what is otherwise a pretty decent movie.
Way to take us backwards, Fame. Fuck you.