Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A Critique of the Prairie Home Companion Movie

My wife said it well: it's like listening to the show except you have to watch it.

There is something attractive in the movie (and in the radio program): Americana. Things that are ours are always attractive. How could it be otherwise? They would not be ours if we weren't attracted.

Gospel music is prominent in the film. The gospel music is moving and powerful because it is American. The religion or doctrine that produced those songs, however, is not prominent. In fact, the dead woman who acts as "angel" is a comfortable/comforting distortion of the Christian doctrine that brought those songs into being.

"Comfortable" is a key word. The messy questions about where America came from and where those hymns came from is glossed over. Here we are, listening to familiar things, joking in a diner.

Comfortable. Not strong. Not compelling. Attractive.

9 comments:

mccaleb said...

There was recently a man on KBAQ who I recognized as someone I didn't like but whose identity I couldn't remember. He droned on and on and on in that irritating, trying-to-sound-profound voice of his, reading some froofy nature poem which sounded suspiciously like Walt Whitman (another mark against him) and whose content was more ambivalent, fluffy emptiness than anything very meaningful (heaven forbid that anything meaningful be read on the radio).

Lo and behold--my fine feathered reader was none other than Garrison Keillor.

I confess, I have nothing much against him except his voice and the fact that he reads Walt Whitman on a radio station I had thought exempt from everything except classical music and traffic updates. My best friend's family also used to subject me to regular hearings of A Prairie Home Companion on the radio, though I never understood the charm...

Alas for all this ranting. Perhaps I'll understand the Keillor cult when I'm older.

But for now I'd like my Bach without my Whitman, thank you very much.

la petite bĂȘte... said...

Preferring Bach to Whitman? Perish the thought. Well, that depends. Some Whitman is fantastic-- "Out of the cradle, endlessly rocking"--while some is... awkward ("A Woman Waits for Me."). Bach is brilliant, of course, but I'm no fan of the harpsichord.

Annnyway. My mom rented the Prairie Home Movie. I'll try and watch it. Though I haven't seen it, I already have a complaint: LINDSEY LOHAN???

Hansonius said...

I do think that any estimation of Whitman and Keillor (or anyone for that matter) ought to be balanced. Whitman has his moments. Let's call them both "very American" and leave it at that.

What is with the animus against Lindsay Lohan? I don't know enough to understand it. My wife can't stand her, either. What gives?

The Lyrical Gangster said...

American, yes. More precisely, though; it's Midwestern. I'll show you some time.

Hansonius said...

Well, well, well - so the Lyrical Gangster graces my blog with his In-and-Out-lifestyle presence. Are you and Victor going to pass through Phoenix this winter? I'll get some homebrew ready.

Emma-O said...

We don't like Lindsey Lohan because we all wish we were on the Disney Channel. Period. And plus, the girl got Aaron Carter. We're Bacchae that allow for no such petty thing as 'sharing'.

Hansonius said...

You wish you were Bacchae. You and your minions are the guard at the beginning of the Oresteia - wrapped up in the mundane, missing the action.

Emma-O said...

WE'RE AENEAS AND CO. AND YOU'RE ANDROMACHE PLAYING PUT-PUT ON THE PATHETIC MINATURE GOLF!TROY OF YOUR LIFE! OH SNAP, FOO'.

Nerd fights can hit below the belt, Magister. Don't poke the dragon if you don't wanna feel the DRAKEN BUUUURN.

Hansonius said...

You, Aeneas and Co.? Hardly. You'd burn the ships and then regret it.