Pop culture treasure, high culture trash.

Monday, February 13, 2006

And if you like you can buy the ring

"It got very treacherous in the end, the flowers thing, because the stage was so goddamn slippy...you know, I'd be wearing moccasins and you'd be getting down with your bad self, and the next thing, whoa! Bang! A tulip!"

-Johnny Marr on the unique challenges of Smiths shows

Youtube has a Smiths clip up with more dreamy concert montages than you can shake a daffodil at. It's from some British VH1 rip-off called "I Love 1984," but unlike their American counterparts, the Brit writers and music people herded in to do the commentary are not bumbling, unfunny ass-clowns. This is great, because it means that instead of Michael Ian Black drooling we get Tony Wilson & Friends being classy and making comprehensible points. We also get Shaun Duggan, the Smiths teenage superfan whose play based on "William, It Was Really Nothing" was produced and performed in London in 1984. The BBC smelled drama and somehow induced Moz to actually show up and interview the poor kid, and said interview is the grand finale of the Youtube clip.

I dunno what the whole thing is like in context, but as is it's gothic and weirdly sexual, with Duggan looking like he desperately wants to climb into Morrissey's lap. I'm not complaining, it's fucking fantastic, but where are they? Why is the set so dark? And was that really a close-up of Morrissey licking his lips? Moz asks if fame is important to Duggan, and he quips, ""Yeah, I mean, I don't want to die and be no one, do you know what I mean?" There is the briefest of pauses before Moz breathes, "I do." But in that pause there is Morrissey, a teenage superfan in his own right, barricaded in his bedroom in his mum's house, sanctifying every inch of wall space with James Dean and the New York Dolls and trying to figure out how to turn himself into a pop star. Yes, darling, he knows.

Mozzer also shows up to head-scratching effect in New York Doll, the bizonkers documentary on Dolls bassist Arthur "Killer" Kane. He's totes eloquent and earnest, almost painfully so, but for some reason the director insists on shooting him exclusively in an eyebrows-to-chin close-up. Which is odd, because all of the other Dolls genius testifyers (Chrissie Hynde, Clem Burke, Mick Jones, Bob Geldof) are shown sitting several feet away from the camera. Maybe he's body-conscious and agreed to appear in the film only on the condition that he be shot in close-up, or else the director thought it would make him seem more mysterious and savior-like (he masterminds the Dolls reunion). Either way, the result is some seriously intense heaping screenfuls of Moz face.

You'll be able to see all of him, presumably, at SXSW next month when he does a special combo interview and music showcase. If you're a starving wallflower like me and will be sitting that one out, read this charming essay instead. And let's all of us read Saint Morrissey again--it's still the stunningest Mozological survey yet produced.

P.S. Dear God, this is the cutest thing ever.

2 comments:

Domenica said...

Hello, I am a reader of your blog and I wanted to comment starting now.

I saw New York Doll also, and I noticed that Morrissey was HUGE and everyone else was at a distance from the camera. Maybe the filmmaker was just enamoured with Morrissey? The movie was about Arthur Kane, but like you said, perhaps because Morrissey was Kane's savior in a way, making Kane's dream come true right before Kane died.

Lizzie said...

Hi Domenica! I'm glad to hear somebody else picked up on the Morrissey largeness. If that was a directorial decision, it sure was an effective one! I love the idea that Moz was just too shy for anything other than close-ups, although that's unlikely, since close-ups are almost more invasive. In any case, what an amazing film. I sat open-mouthed through a good bit of it.