Friday Face/Off: Singers On Film
Tash (Just stuck The Bodyguard on her LoveFilm)
I come to you today not as a championer of Bieber, of Zefron, of Madonna, or indeed of any half-famous voice-cracker bent on Hollywood domination. Promise. Obviously, OBVIOUSLY there are many films that should have never been darkened by a musician’s Ray Bans, not to mention many musicians who never should have marred their reputation with a stint on the silver screen– but let me put this to you: a world where Labyrinth doesn’t star David Bowie. WHAT KIND OF A WORLD WOULD THAT BE?
John (believes only total vigilance can halt Madonna)
There you go again, trying to justify an argument by shoehorning goblins into the mix. David Bowie is a special case, because he’s clearly not of this earth – my issue with the constant parade of half-witted singers stumbling onto our screens is that it’s so bloody arrogant. How dare you assume that just because people want to hear you do stupid uppy-downy talking to music, they’ll also want to see you act? Rihanna needs to take a long, hard look at herself.
Surely it’s just as bloody-minded to say that just because we’ve enjoyed the sound of someone’s voice, it means we cannot possibly appreciate them as an actor! Using that logic, we might as well say that Daniel Craig might as well not bother doing ANY OTHER ROLES save that of Bond, because dammit, we’re used to him in a stain-free bow-tie, and our brains cannot cope with the idea of him in any other mould. Theoretically speaking, what is your problem with established musicians taking on an acting role, if they’re right for it?
If they’re right for it, fine. Tom Waits has proved himself to be a versatile and talented actor, and he’s not the only one – I just resent the general assumption that once someone is in the public eye they must be able to have a bash at acting. How many more Madonnas do we have to suffer before we accept that having one creative talent doesn’t mean having all of them? Double, triple or octuple threats are fine with me, but if the aptitude isn’t there then I don’t see why anyone would squander the patience of their fans on ill-advised ‘new directions’.
OK, fine, not everyone is good at everything, is that your point? So what about acting roles that actually require singing talent? What’s better, a situation such as Country Strong when the acting is fine but the lead falls down on the ol’ singing section (sorry Gwynnie, but your pipes aren’t stellar), or a film like The Bodyguard where Whitney will probably only really be remembered for her sweet killer vocals (and all the cocaine, of course)? Surely drafting in an actor who is a bit of a lack-lustre singer is exactly the same crime as drafting in a musician who also went to Drama Club at school – what’s your solution? No cross-over roles at all? Stick with one art? You realise that in this world, your ultimate favourite flick of all time Mamma Mia could never have come into being?
DON’T YOU BE TALKIN’ ‘BOUT MAMMA MIA! That unparalleled work of cinematic and musical genius aside, I don’t think your point holds water at all. It’s obviously preferable to have an actor with sweet lungs playing a role which requires singing, but they’re still hired principally to act – bringing in a singer to do the job at the expense of everything else the actor would have been doing (you know, all that complex acting shiznit) makes about as much sense as hiring a chimpanzee as a doctor because they happen to be jolly good at finding nits. Do the job you’re supposed to do, do it well and only do something else if you’re not going to make a tit of yourself, say I.
So, your overall point is “if they’re good at it, it’s fine, if they’re not, don’t do it?” What kind of a heftily-opinioned fight-stirrer are you? YES OBVIOUSLY. Yes, so sometimes it’s a good idea. Therefore I’m right. DON’T WORRY JENNIFER HUDSON, YOU CAN KEEP THE OSCAR, HE’S SAID IT’S FINE. Another thing I think that’s definitely right: sometimes bringing in someone who ISN’T just the blank slate of “actor” adds colour to a film where none would exist otherwise. The reason Bowie was so utterly magnificent as The Goblin King was because he dragged all of what he represented as an artist into the role too. You don’t begin the film at neutral, you start WITH something, with an idea already imprinted on the character, and for me, that can make a role a damn sight more interesting. Would 8 Mile been nearly as intriguing had it not starred Marshall Mathers? No.
Blank slate? BLANK SLATE? I’m telling Colin Firth you said that, and he’ll come round and be really supercilious and posh at you… oh. Oh yeah, I sort of take your point. Just promise me there’ll be no more films ruined by Beyoncé’s dreadful contrived posturing like Austin Powers in Goldmember. Can you promise me that? Oh wait, no you can’t. You can’t, because she’s about to star in the FOURTH BASTARD REMAKE of A Star Is Born, which last starred Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. You nearly had me sold, but when the chips are down all the musicians are going to provide is dreadful hackneyed performances and contrived songs every five minutes to show off their one festering talent. Think the music video for Englishman In New York, but projected onto your chest from an ultra-violet projector which will gradually burn all your organs to dust. Forever.
You lose it totally when you panic, you know that right?