Sunday, March 25, 2012

american idiot is rent lite and i kind of love it anyway

For Valentine’s Day, AK got me tickets to American Idiot (the musical), which combines two things I like very much: Green Day’s American Idiot (the album) and musicals. When we went to Saturday’s matinee, I discovered that it also includes a lot of another thing I love: Rent. A lot. From the general punk aesthetic (understandably) to the choreography to the spare sets adorned with scaffolding and a shopping cart to opening each scene with a date stamp to the curly-haired Puerto Rican-ish love interest who wears short skirts, fingerless gloves and gets addicted to heroin and in one scene angrily throws it across the room. A bit derivative, right? (See photos below for further evidence. American Idiot followed by Rent.)

So watching it was a little weird. As various disaffected youth writhed about on stage, I felt sort of like, What’re you so mad about, honey? I wondered if this was what it would be like to see Rent for the first time at age almost-35. I even had one of those awful old-people thoughts: In my day [or Rent’s day, which actually took place about ten years before my day], they had AIDS to be angry about. You guys are bored and hanging out in a 7-Eleven parking lot.

Then one of the main characters got shipped off to Iraq and I was like, Oh. Right.

The characters are archetypal and the story is impressionistic. Or underdeveloped, depending how you look at it. Three suburban high school friends who spend their days smoking weed and forgetting to shower go their separate ways—to war, teen parenthood and drugs-and-rock-and-roll in the big city. All these options kind of suck because life kind of sucks, but it’s life nonetheless, so they’ll keep going and keep being friends. That’s it. But that’s really all there is to life when you think about it. And so I was moved and cried and writhed right along with those loveable youngsters.

AK and I decided to make a vacation out of our weekend, because we really needed one and we didn’t have the time or energy to drive anywhere. So we checked into a hotel downtown and spent the rest of the weekend eating great food (shrimp and grits! Big Man Bakes cupcakes!) and lounging like you can only do in a hotel where there’s no internet and lots of cable.

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