I hadn’t realized until a few years ago that while Donnie Darko may be appreciated by people of various ages, it has a major, cultish fan following among people a decade or more younger than I. That’s fine with me, as the young folk could always use some 80s music and time travel (two elements of the film’s weird, complex tale of high school angst and possible schizophrenia — and for another very hip, clever use of time travel, you have to see Primer, the very realistic-feeling little indie sci-fi film my friend Chuck Blake showed me).
I wonder, with some concern, if Donnie resonates with the current crop of young adults for the simple, disturbing reason that it’s so emo/twee. I mean, Donnie’s basically a hero, in the end, by being almost completely passive and self-destructive, which just barely redeems his existence as a profound loser with family problems.
I don’t know if this decade’s childlike, effete passivity is such a good thing — though I have to admit I like it just fine when it causes things like this fragile-feeling video for the beautiful Stars song “Your Ex Lover Is Dead” (since they are Montreal-based, I’m counting on my friend Jacob Levy to see them perform there at some point and report). And not everything has to be an ad about manly beef consumption, of course.
If I understand music well enough these days to distinguish “twee” from “emo” (and I am not at all confident I do), I think the Stars video was twee, while the theme to Smallville — equally overwrought but with more of a wall-of-sound Hilary Duff-era constant, somewhat cheesy volume-barrage and almost grunge-like constant vocal wail — is more emo (generally a bad thing, I think, but I do like the Smallville theme itself, which suits the show and manages to still sound pretty hip over seven years in, as the series slowly but surely mutates into Lois & Clark).
Effete whining may not be the path to heroism in the real world, but it might be a short cut to some measure of gentleness and civility after a few increasingly coarse decades. Yes, the current version of Clark Kent seems mopey, but on the bright side, the Stars don’t seem likely to brutally slam-dance into me, which is nice. We aging and conservative punk fans need some calm and relaxation sometimes, obviously.
P.S. The Stars also remind me a bit of the (comparably youthful and often similarly clever-playful) literary-hipster folk who attend Todd Zuniga’s Opium literary readings, and you can see that for yourself by watching my friend Katherine Taylor and others read at one such event tomorrow night (Tuesday the 14th) at 7 at the Kitchen at 512 W. 19th.
P.P.S. Harder to musically categorize is this alarming, lobster-encrusted performance of “The Night [Chicago Died/They Drove Old Dixie Down/The Lights Went Out in Georgia]” by Von Hummer, pointed out to me by Gerard Perry, who also forwards this dubbed-over Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles performance.