After seeing "Rent" I left the Loews theater with feelings of disappointment and regret; but as the film admonishes its audience to "forget regret," I found it fulfilling and ideologically consistent with the movie to switch to anger and resentment.
In spite of the lack of satisfaction, I did learn several things from Rent:
1. One needn't actually produce a work of Art (tm 2005, Rent Corporation) to be an Artist. Since all Life outside the Mainstream (tm) is Art, one need only record it (the medium and technique are irrelevant) and display it to have successfully avoided Selling Out.
2. Being Creative is better than being in the Mainstream, and the two are in fact mutually exclusive. Keeping It Real doesn't refer to the Mainstream.
3. Those in the Mainstream have surrendered Principle for a living death (because anything outside La Vie Boheme (tm) isn't living at all).
4. Intensity of emotion trumps its direction, effects, or meaning.
5. One needn't care enough about someone to change dangerous and/or hurtful behavior in any way, as long as one is Living outside the Mainstream; the resulting effervescence of Creative Love will redeem you in spite of illness, poverty, and their impact on your loved ones.
6. Your loved ones would rather love you Super-Intensely for a period of months than love you In The Mainstream for a lifetime; your impending sickness and death will enable further heights of emotion, creating an unending spiral cycle of Intense Love for generations to come.
7. It is far better to live for a short time as a Creative Archetype than to live a long time in the Mainstream as a Mere Human.
8. A political protest need be neither political, nor a protest; it needn't be coherent as long as it's Creative, since those viewing the goings-on will either be In Tune or are The Living-Dead Corporate Enemy, in which case they are irredeemably evil despite their support for anyone in La Vie Boheme.
9. Annoying Relatives in the Mainstream are so awful that they must be shunned, whatever value they might contribute or pain they might alleviate in La Vie Boheme; though Poverty is the main problem in La Vie Boheme, no amount of it is sufficient to warrant such extreme measures as Reliance On Family.
10. Change is bad. There's no reason to change an artistically unproductive life, especially to something in the Mainstream, because if you're living La Vie Boheme, life is Art; artistic contributions are irrelevant.
11. The rest of the world does owe you a living, on your terms, whatever they are. There's nothing one need do to merit such consideration, other than living La Vie Boheme; the Mainstream exists purely to support La Vie Boheme, though despite this reliance, the Mainstream deserves only scorn, derision, and contempt.
A brief summary of the characters:
Angel was a free-spirited, creative, ephemeral soul with colorful, outlandish mannerisms and a buoyant outlook uniquely identical to EVERY OTHER DRAG QUEEN STEREOTYPE EVER ON CELLULOID. See Priscilla Queen of the Desert for rich counterexamples.
Tom Collins was sensitive because he got beat up, smiled a lot at Angel, and is also brilliantly quirky because he stole from an ATM he re-wired, theft being so much more fulfilling than any larger sums derived from engineering jobs in the Mainstream.
Roger was a soulful Bon Jovi-ish artist minus the artistry and the soul. He at least contributed the worst song of the movie to resurrect his she's-not-quite-dead-yet love.
Mimi exhibited a deft and precise bikini-wax during her dance solo, and covered with sweat during her cold-turkey drug withdrawal, verged on the Fiona Apple-esquire.
Maureen contributed a delightful ass-shot, the spiritual zenith of the film. At that moment I wanted to go down on my knees and pray.
Joanne was a control freak - we know she was, because Maureen sang so. Somehow, despite Mainstream mannerisms and a Mainstream job, she was Bohemian, because the others wanted her to be.
Mark was the geeky filmmaker who decided to eschew Structure in favor of Passion. He completed his film (made by riding around on a bike, filming things) after quitting his horrific but seductive Mainstream job (driving around in a van, filming things). Evidently, the only obstacle to completing his film was developing raw unedited footage and shoving it on a projector reel.
Rent did have some good tunes and musical performances, like nice paintings afloat on a sea of lightweight bile.
Some things to which the word "Rent" applies:
- my soul after seeing the film
- my day after seeing the film
- my wallet after seeing the film
- what writing "Rent" earned plenty of for the creators
- what those who go see "Rent" often need to pay the old-fashioned way, in the Mainstream