Theatre Thursday :: a very quick note regarding Rent.

22 Aug

As I’ve doubtless mentioned before, I was basically a baby when I first saw Rent.  And it grew into being Quite The Thing for my friends, somewhat in the months leading up to the film (I saw it on stage for the first time about a year before the film was released, so there was plenty of time to get a buzz going amongst my peers, many of them unrepentant musical nerds like myself) and definitely in the months after the film.  At the time, we were a bunch of babies, really.  We were a bunch of middle-class kids in the lower grades of an upper-middle-class high school, most of us white, most of us not really wanting for anything.  (I’m not the only one of my larger friendgroup who wound up being some stripe of queer, but at the time none of us were out; I definitely hit on how this affected me back in my ages-ago essay about Maureen, but I won’t presume to speak for any of the others.)

We were all also, to one degree or another, really freaking in love with this musical, and I don’t know, maybe it’s just that rock musicals were how my friends did “edgy.”  But I’ve realized recently that while Rent was formative entertainment for me, it was also one of those things that ruined me for other things.  It set a bunch of standards for things that other media has yet to meet.  It did a bunch of beautiful things that I look for and want everywhere.

  • Eight main characters.  Such racial representation: only three of them are white.
  • As such, every present tense canonical romantic relationship is interracial.  (Roger and Mimi?  Check.  Collins and Angel?  Check.  Maureen and Joanne?  Check.  Benny and Mimi?  Check.)
  • Regarding romantic representation: heterosexual relationship, check.  Male homosexual relationship, check.  Female homosexual relationship, check.
  • A variety of social backgrounds.  A variety of personalities.  A variety of artistic temperaments.  Etcetera.
  • And yet despite these things, despite the fact that these characters argued and scuffled and disagreed often, big giant endearing found family.

I am spoiled.  That’s all there is to it.

–your fangirl heroine.

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