Last week during a spontaneous conversation here in the office, the movie Men Don’t Leave was reminisced about. For those not familiar with the weepy 1990 drama starring Jessica Lange, the film features a love interest who just happens to be a composer. Not just a composer, but one of those avant-garde, experimental, whatever-you-want-to-call-them composers—though how he affords that awesome loft is never really explained. Lange’s character accidentally stumbles into a rehearsal to discover a groovy post-minimal jam session that features performers playing typewriters alongside the cellos, as well as mixing bowls and other oddities. No disrespect to Jessica Lange, Joan Cusack, and the rest of the cast, but the main reason any of us remembered the film was because of the wacky composer dude.
I’ve blabbed about how cool it would be if filmmaker Christopher Guest infiltrated the new music scene to create his special breed of mocumentary—not much tweaking to reality needed to garner laughs from the average Joe—but maybe we should simply be rallying for more representation in film and television. Don’t the doctors on Grey’s Anatomy need a kooky composer sidekick for a little music therapy? Hey CSI, how about a bizarre murder that takes place during one of those vindictive young composer orchestra reading sessions? And while I’m on a roll here, couldn’t the remaining castaways on Survivor Island compete for immunity by accurately performing Xenakis’s Okho on a set of tuned coconuts—most musically moving rendition wins. Hell, even Ugly Betty could use an ugly composer to hangout with.
But the reality is, our brand of creativity is too middle-of-the-road for TV and the silver screen. We’re just a tad bit too crazy for David Letterman and way too banal for something along the lines of, say, Wife Swap. Our only chance seems to be the austere airwaves of public television, but when’s the last time you’ve actually seen any new music on PBS? Fortunately, the world’s entire population isn’t under the zombifying effect of the boobtube. There’s a new tube in town, baby. Just search YouTube for the big names all the way from Boulez to Xenakis, and you’re bound to find a few video clips for your entertainment. Looks like our scene is going to stay a grassroots venture for the foreseeable future. So, roll up your sleeves and start uploading.