Rich Hall, described by Matt Groening as the inspiration for Simpsons' bar owner 'Moe Szyslak', shares his views on 'Musical Biopics'...
"The one and only Hank Williams!..."
(As billed in the biopic "Your Cheatin' Heart", 1964).
If Hank Williams is a "one and only" kind of guy, then why is someone else pretending to be him?
Of all the shitty things that Hollywood does to sell films, the absolute shittiest is when they try and crank out some musical biopic.
The musical biopic exploits the details of an artists life, and pigeon-holes them, homogenizes them, and in the end just lies about them.
Patsy Cline died in a plane crash near Camden, Tennessee - 80 miles west of Nashville. Yet in the biopic of her life ("Sweet Dreams") the producers decided to have her plane crash out in the American desert in the South West.
The screenwriters of a biopic are forced to attribute character changes to specific events in that artist's life. But that's not how life happens.
Ray Charles becomes a heroin addict in the film "Ray" because his brother died. When in fact, Ray Charles became a heroin addict because he kept shooting fucking heroin into his arm!
It's reductive lies, it's reductive emotions, it's reductive talent.
People do not listen to the music of Johnny Cash for any other reason than it allows them to tap into a greater depth of emotion. Watching Joaquin Phoenix pretend to be Johnny Cash is about as god-damn illuminating as if Johnny Cash had stopped a concert mid-song and started doing scenes from "Gladiator".
"But wait a minute Rich, wait just a cotton-picking minute..." (that's what you're saying)
"Didn't Joaquin Phoenix get an Academy Award nomination for playing Johnny Cash?"
"A-a-a-and didn't Jamie Foxx win an Academy Award for playing Ray Charles?"
Well yes, they did.
What that means is that Jamie Foxx did a slightly better job of raping Ray Charles' corpse, than Joaquin Phoenix did of raping Johnny Cash's corpse. Actors don't portray musicians out of some sense of honour, or admiration, they do it because it's Oscar bait.
"But Rich..." (you're saying)
"What if it turns some person on to their music?"
If you do not have the innate ability to seek out someone's music on your own, and you have to wait for a Hollywood biopic to do it for you, then you are some sort of hillside grazer of culture.
You are a sheep, a cow, or what is biologically classified as a "ruminate".
(Please click on the title of this post to see the full clip...)