Welcome to 2017, where the line between literary content and advertising has been blurred, and facts are hanging on by the same thread Mel Gibson’s been clamped to the past 20 years waiting for his worldview to be affirmed. This means good news, kids: there’s hope!
Trying to find #alternative viewing material to anything with DTrump’s face, Emily and I, the other day, watched the 1999 surrealist glam-rock psuedo-biopic extravaganza Velvet Goldmine. I know what you are thinking: holy wow, that is a lot of adjectives. Trust me, I should probably be using more adjectives.
Velvet Goldmine is an account of the lives of David Bowie-based Brian Slade and Iggy Pop-based Kurt Wild through the lens of an apparently ageless journalist (Christian Bale) who both experiences glam rock in Britain and is still around 20 years later, poreless as ever, to write about it. The movie is a structural homage to Citizen Kane shrouded in the artistic sensibilities of a bored 14-year-old with unprecedented access to body paint, a rich store of emotional trauma, and prescription pills. In case you do not believe me, the film features original attempted Bowie-esque songs, Ewan McGregor’s genitalia from every angle you thought possible and few of which you’ve never dreamed, and a 19th century spaceship sighting that seems to coincide with the abandonment of a baby Oscar Wilde.
Emily, a connoisseur of the many nuanced effects (both visual and psychical) of Velvet, discovered the film because the band Placebo, her personal passion, makes a brief appearance. Perhaps the best way to explain the tone of the piece, aside from all of the photos, is to re-iterate that the soundtrack comprises attempts at non-Bowie Bowie songs written for the movie. Also watch this. As you can probably guess, it takes about 3 minutes to decide whether you love this movie or hate this movie. If you hate this movie, you are probably a Very Serious Person.
As it turns out, reviewing this movie is not nearly as worthwhile as reading reviews other people have written, most of which are glowing because, sure. Because I am the captain of my own soul and an English major I have independently decided to make “IMDB Reviews of Velvet Goldmine” their own literary category, and below are my stylistic and grammatical analyses of three outliers of the genre.
The title indicates that our author clearly has a cultural context for movies involving men in make-up, as well as a tenuous-at-best grasp of when periods are appropriate, helping inform our opinion of the body of the review. This piece is for an audience of like-minded cinema buffs, and the writer feels no need to assess the movie’s quality (“Obviously”) but has instead taken on the more advanced task of assessing its cultural relevance within the frame of similarly popular movies. I mean, who didn’t spend half of high school watching CALIGULA on loop??
It becomes increasingly clear that this critic is not actually confused about punctuation and capitalization, but emboldened by the opportunity online reviewing allows to rework the rules of grammar; thus predicting which genre of musician is most likely to expose “a penis” isn’t this writer’s only talent, though it may be his most useful.
And what of “a penis?” Does the writer hope to avoid spoiling the cinematic surprise of specifically Ewan McGregor’s nether regions? (I already did that above, sorry) Or is he suggesting that some musicians are liable to expose a third party’s genitalia instead of their own? You know what they say: Ambiguity is the spice of the Internet review. Finally, the last bit takes us brilliantly full circle back to the title, where, while some writers like to answer their own questions, our friend here has instead chosen to question his own answer!
Here we have another punctuation artiste, as is made clear by the first of a few creative combinations of quotes and punctuation (or was the English language that different in the 90s???). The craftiness of Roxman honestly made me re-evaluate my personal rhetorical choices. For example, with the phrase “As a amateur writer,” we truly see the brilliance of the review, as only “a amateur” would so expertly misuse an article.
The second half of that sentence further supports the critic’s amateur status, as well as calling into question the identity of our narrator. “While glorifying my own past”…I’ve been forced to assume that David Bowie and/or Iggy Pop and/or a real-life reflective Christian Bale wrote this review. The mention of a CD player is an expert sprinkle of chronology to remind us of the ’99 setting of the piece, while the end reinforces the crucial humanity of our amateur writer, studying actor, and pseudo-musician (definitely David Bowie).
Ts_eh has the only distinction of citing an outside source, so he gets an A. On one hand, I am unsure if he knows that the Onion is satirical, which would seem to be important knowledge before citing a publication. On the other hand, the fact that the Onion mentioned this movie at all seems to at least validate the writing of a review.
Not only did our author do his (or at least some) research, but he also is here to let us know that he saw through the glitter — to Arthur, the true star of the show. Perhaps ts_eh feels that Arthur is in fact akin to him, and that by reading his review we ought to discover more about him, not Velvet Goldmine. This is plausible because in addition to subtly inferring that ts_eh reads the news, we also know that he does not know how to spell Citizen Kane. Maybe he knows this as well, as he has put his original spelling in quotes? One can only hope.
If “Arthur” here represents the writer, and if he is trying to spark a hero-worship relationship with me, as he has thoroughly implied, I have to say no, as I refuse to engage with someone whose head is being reigned by a fictional feud between glam rockers. I have standards.