I sit home alone tonight. The hubby is off doing his film reporting duty at the annual orgy of pop culture geekdom, Comic-Con. Ever since Mr. Seibold became a full-fledged film critic a few years ago, we’ve slowly sacrificed more of our Paul-and-Linda level of desired togetherness to the altar of cinema. If he’s not attending a critics’ screening, he’s likely watching DVD screeners, or writing or podcasting about the movies he’s watched, or working his second job…at a movie theater. Some women are football widows or video game widows. I’m a movie widow. But hey, he’s doing what really constitutes his dream job. It’d be like if I woke up one morning and had somehow inherited Cameron Crowe powers.
What does this have to do with my usual ravings about music? Possibly not much, until you realize my husband could just as easily claim to be a live music widow, were he free on more evenings. For instance, I saw the same band in concert three days in a row last week – hooray for Minibar gigs. At practically every show I attend, I explain away Witney’s absence and insist that my wedding band isn’t a decoy meant to drive away creepy drunk guys.Witnessing our parallel pop culture lives in separate pop pools, movies vs. music, is sometimes fascinating. The passions of a die-hard movie fan and music nut are separate but equal in a lot of ways. Take that Minibar three-peat. I’ve never sat down and watched the same movie three days in a row, or even three times in a row – and if hard pressed, could likely count the movies I’ve seen three times in a theater on one hand. But they’re out there, the people who are pondering seeing The Avengers for a sixth time since they’re not heading for San Diego. And I can definitely relate, even if that’s not my poison. My mantra more and more these days is simple: do things that bring you joy. Not really talking drugs, but an emotional high. If watching Thor and Iron Man take on intergalactic forces transports you to your happy place for a few hours, then rock on.
Oh, The Avengers. The better half got fairly savaged when he deigned to give The Avengers a less-than-enthusiastic review at its release a few months back. He never said he didn’t LIKE the movie. He liked it just fine, it just didn’t send him. The Web has offered the freedom to tear writers a new one for many moons, obviously; even this blog, with its tens of views, has received at least one angry comment. Surely, if someone isn’t as rapturous about the thing that possibly changed your life (or at least made your summer kick ass), it can feel like a personal affront. But an angry movie guy seems to be a different creature from an angry music guy. The movie guy, whether paid to watch or an everyday fan, it seems will never stop trying to get you on his side. If a movie is great, they shout it to the rooftops and see it again and again. If a movie is terrible, they shout it to the rooftops and try to keep everyone away – and if failing that, will engage in many a spirited debate if their friend dug what they despised. Yes, there are plenty of people who will flat out say a given band sucks. (And at times, it seems like all music writers and fans have just decided “Nickelback” is shorthand for “shitty band” rather than delve into their own personal worst lists, but still.) I don’t care for the Black Eyed Peas. However, I don’t talk, tweet and blog all day about how I don’t care for them. If you love the Black Eyed Peas, I won’t talk you out of it – that’s your prerogative and even I’ll admit that they put on a helluva live show when they opened for U2. There’s so much music I love out there to absorb and to champion; the worst thing I can do to a band that I think is crappy is not give them my time and energy.
Maybe my above opinion is colored by being around an abnormally high concentration of film critics and aficionados. It does seem to me, though, that a music fan’s emotional response – whether positive or negative – is a lot more internalized. It could just boil down to how each medium is experienced. When you think about it, music in its nature is, for the most part, consumed personally; film is consumed almost entirely communally. If you go to a movie alone, you won’t be alone once you’re seated in that theater. Movies are a reliable source of water cooler talk; much of Monday’s casual conversations at work center on who saw what movies over the weekend and what they thought of them. “Call Me Maybe”, despite the meme potential, doesn’t seem to have captured the national conversation in quite the same way as the latest Spider-Man flick. Though there are likely Carly Rae Jespen message forums and Twitter feeds that would beg to differ. Fans of a common musical artist have to seek each other out; fans of a popular movie are out in the open.
Quantity can also gum up the consumption process. Even once you throw in all the indie films and smaller releases, I’m guessing that there are never more than, say, 20 movies released theatrically in a single weekend. Whereas new music is being released constantly. Tuesday is to new larger-label albums as Friday is to new films, but singles can make their way to iTunes everyday. CD release shows can happen any day. A new music video, professional or amateur, is probably uploaded to YouTube every minute. With so many different artists clamoring for attention, in a marketplace that’s fragmented by so many avenues, the chances of there being a musical equivalent of an Avengers-style juggernaut seem slimmer and slimmer. The awareness just isn’t as strong across the board. I was surprised to check an e-mail from Shazam a few days ago and see that the most “tagged” song for this week was Goyte’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” – a song I devoted a blog post to back around Valentine’s Day. The video has been up on YouTube since July of 2011. If the Shazam tags are any indication, a lot of people still don’t know who performs this song, or maybe don’t know what it’s called, after a year. When the platform isn’t as big to begin with, the power to promote and broadcast isn’t as strong. Granted, the tradeoff here is likely the gift of longevity. Even Avatar was in theaters for less than a year. Meanwhile, Adele’s 21 was the top-selling album of 2011…and currently is the top-selling album of 2012.
Ebony and ivory do live together in perfect harmony under this roof. It’s not an us vs. them scenario as much as it is a constant educational process. An intellectual exchange. I know more about Werner Herzog these days; he knows more about the Cramps. We bridge the pop culture divide while carrying on our individual pursuits. He doesn’t have to see Minibar three times in a row…hell, I’m happy he’s seen them live at all. And I won’t stop him from checking out some obscure art film, even if I opt to stay at home and watch Burn Notice or something. It’s all good, always individually fulfilling, and even more fun when it’s collectively so.