Junglejim on How far is too far?
Enjoyed the movie Whiplash, excellent screenplay, direction and performances, and am curious on the thoughts of the Massive on what I took to be its central question: how far or can or should one go in the pursuit of excellence and whether the price paid is worth it, particularly in the field of music.
Can a mentor justify pushing a pupil to absolute breaking point in attempting to achieve ‘perfection’? Few would question this motivational approach in sports training ( particularly in endurance events), but in music? especially the branch of music featured in the film, with its unique history? And does technical prowess offer any hope of worthwhile output?
I was also taken with the fact that it centres on a jazz drummer, aspiring to the technical heights of Buddy Rich. Rich has an interesting place on the pantheon on drumming, and jazz specifically. I know nobody who questions his preeminent ability and there’s no shortage of available footage that leaves one thoroughly impressed, but I also don’t know any one who likes jazz that actually listens to his music or would put any of his albums in their personal top 10s or top 20s.
Rich was obviously a great showman, billed throughout his life as the ‘ World’s Greatest Drummer’ and is credited with liberating drummers from being anonymous keepers of the beat to recognisable performers. He could also be argued to being almost as much of a freak as a musician. Playing to paying customers before he was two years old, his schtick was always ‘ wow, look at that’. I’ve occasionally thought ( rather guiltily) that maybe his talents were akin to the football keepy uppy ‘ geniuses’ who delight half time crowds with their skills, but who are seldom seen later as successful players.
I guess what I’m clumsily driving at is – is there any point or value to being impressive within an art form whose prime purpose is to somehow move people, if most of them remain impressed on one level but emotionally remain indifferent – and as any fule kno, the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference.
Does a 4 chord punk band that moves its’ audience deserve any less respect than a conservatory trained supergroup of prodigies who are technically perfect but leave most folk cold?
Well, whaddya think?