26 April 2010

Can't Stop The Music

United States – 1980
Director – Nancy Walker
Anchor Bay, 2002, VHS
Run Time – 2 hours, 3 minutes

My assumption about the Village People up to this point had been that they were simply another shitty disco group that earned their cultural status for wearing costumes. Of course, there was much more back story, I’d just never stopped being annoyed with the music long enough to look deeper. Suffice to say that upon watching this movie I was surprised at how unabashedly gay it was. I was glad that nobody even mentioned it though, it was simply an established factor of the plot that didn’t require attention or apology. As a breeder I have at best an outsider’s perspective, but it seems like it would be profoundly demeaning to have to perpetually identify oneself by other people’s labels. Why then should gay film, or in this case simply a film with gay people, openly identify itself as such any more than a straight film should? Ultimately I understand the struggle between demanding acknowledgement and respect for ones differences, and simply wanting to be left alone. But again, I’m a white male breeder, so I can't really know. The fact that I notice it however suggests that it is still uncommon enough to be grab one's attention when it does appear, which I’d like to point out is thirty (30) years after this film was made. What this means is that we still need more films in which gay characters are just characters whose sexuality is simply not an issue. Really, we need more of that in general.

I’ll make no excuse for thinking the music was pretty bad, for I am a child of punk, the natural enemy of disco. But years ago after seeing The Apple and Skatetown USA, something strange and unspeakable happened. Put it this way, a year and a half ago I was watching Thank God It's Friday with my friend who was grumbling and squirming in his seat like he'd just swallowed the worm. A year later he called me up one night saying, "Hey I just bought all these disco movies for my girlfriend." As he was telling me this I could hear her in the background yelling, "What? For me? I don't think so, I didn't want any of that shit!" I can understand his conflicted behavior.

In the case of Can't Stop The Music, I was able to overlook the music largely because I found it refreshing to watch a film that wasn’t totally focused on horny breeders and tits. There was a little of that thrown in (Valerie Perrine), but it was intentionally comedic and illustrated the ridiculousness of the male-female social interaction. If nothing else, Can’t Stop the Music forced me to read up on the Village People and think about the status and role of non-hetero characters in mainstream film. And as a capsule of American pop culture at a particular instant, it’s definitely got something going for it.

Plus it stars Steve Guttenberg and you get to watch full length “music videos” of YMCA and Milkshake. Y’know, if that’s a selling point for you.


DJ Davy B said...

I remember this film. Didn't it have mr USA Bruce Jenner in a role of a rich kid or am I remembering some bad episode of CHiPs?

The Goodkind said...

No you got it, that was the awkward breeder romance between him and Valerie Perrine.