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I guess I’m just hard on my heroes…

January 19, 2010

Yeah, I’ve written and erased this blog like seven or eight times, which in my terms means once, but still…

The Royal Tenenbaums is playing in the background and I couldn’t be more pleased.  While I can’t vouch for The Life Aquatic (which I consider a failure) and The Darjeeling Limited (which I haven’t seen), the Royal Tenenbaums remains one of my favorite films of all time, resting respectably at number three only behind Goodfellas at number two and 2001: A Space Odyssey at the top of the list.

This entire mental dissection of Wes Anderson’s work brings to mind something I often think of, but seldom discuss.  I do not accept the work of the people I love at face value.  I will always judge them against the merit of their own work.  I love David Lynch, Radiohead, and Interpol, but I do not like Lost Highway, In Rainbows, or Our Love to Admire.  Maybe it’s unfair, but I’ll never just love something because someone I love made it, nor will I rush to it.  It all comes back to artistic Darwinism mention in my previous post.  It took me three months after Interpol’s Antics was released for me to actually give it a full listen.  It’s now in my top ten albums of all time, a dozen spots ahead of the much more lauded Turn On the Bright Lights (a game changer for sure, for both me personally and the entire movement Camera’s involved in on a whole).

The problem I have with The Life Aquatic is that the emotions that flowed so effortlessly in the Royal Tenenbaums are forced in that film.  Just watch the scene in Tenenbaums where Ben Stiller tells Gene Hackman it’s been a pretty tough year.  Both Ryan and I lost our shit seeing that for the first time at the theater and I still do every time I see it.  Now compare that to the scene in Life Aquatic where Bill Murray and Owen Wilson crash their helicopter into the ocean.  So forced it countered any magic that might have been built up throughout that film.

Phish and Radiohead both fall victim to the same thing.  After Phish’s album Farmhouse, the band retired.  When they returned with Round Room (followed by Undermind and then Joy), they finally started sounding what people who don’t like them think they sounded like.  In Rainbows is the exact same thing.  While I do not dislike In Rainbows in any way, shape, or form, Radiohead finally delivered the album that sounds exactly like what people who make fun of Radiohead think they sound like.  While I can love each and every song on a individual basis, it’s the only album since Pablo Honey that the band has made that has no place in my top 100 records.  Yeah, I make and keep a lot of lists.  There is a hierarchy to my likes and I have to keep track as they change and evolve.  For what I might say about In Rainbows, Kid A is second only to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, beating even Nirvana’s Nevermind, which is a high water mark in my existence  as a human being overall.

I guess I’m just hard on my heroes.  If a new band called Plastic Ding Dong released In Rainbows, I would herald it.  If Lost Highway was a first film, I would own it, and so on and so forth.   If I wasn’t hard on these kids, it wouldn’t be as great when they impress me again, like Lynch has done since Highway and how I’m sure Radiohead will when they release Golden Slumbers on the Face of Strangers.

Going back and revisiting the things I love is just as important to me as revisiting the things I didn’t care for.  I will dig up Lost Highway every couple of years, I’m sure that I’ll do the same with In Rainbows.  Hell, I’ve seen the Virgin Suicides about nine times and I don’t really like it, but there’s something that causes me to reevaluate it any time I get the chance.

Rant, rant, and rant.

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