Singin’ in Terribad: Of Law and LOL
You want a post? From me? About Singin’ in the Rain?
Now, I would juxtapose Singin’ in the Rain with Terribad to create Singin’ in Therainbad, but that implies that Singin’ in the Rain was bad. Which is not the case: I thoroughly enjoyed watching Singin’ in the Rain, and applaud Jesus159159159 for having great taste.
But onto the post, that I won’t actually write until I’ve had time to meditate by a stream (that is to say, I won’t write until I come back in a half-dozen hours). It will be about the insane domination of the law, television’s double standards, entertainment through mockery, and Singin’ in the Rain.
Spoilers will happen. Watch the film first. You won’t regret it.
Singin’ in the Rain revolves around the transition between silent films and ‘talkies’ (which eventually transitioned into ‘walkies’, until the evolution of the modern ‘ice hockey’). Protagonist Don Lockwood is a silent film star who laments being popularly shipped with the vain, arrogant Lina Lamont. Even though Lina’s shrill voice is jarring, it is no matter with silent films.
One day, Don literally jumps off a bus to escape his legions of adoring fans and into the car of a chorus girl, Kathy Seldon, whom he immediately falls for, to Lina’s distress. More distressful is that talkies have become all the rage in Hollywood, and Lina can’t talk. Eventually, they decide to dub over her lines with Kathy’s voice. However, Lina is an egotistical bitch, and threatens to sue her studio for defamation of character if they reveal Kathy dubbed her voice. They acquiesce, and the première is a massive hit.
Amidst cries of encore, the audience forces Lina to ‘sing’, live. As she lip-syncs Singin’ in the Rain (the song, not the movie) on-stage, Kathy dubs over her voice backstage. Suddenly, Don raises the curtain in front of the crowd and the illusion is broken, with Lina’s reputation broken. In conclusion: everybody lives happily after, except for the girl with the bad voice.
What is law?
Law is based on social practices, right? When we punish a criminal for stealing, we sentence them to a reasonable sentence that society agrees with. When we agree to a contract, society expects us to honour the contract. However, society does not expect us to follow a contract to the tee, nor does society expect us to obey a contract deliberately written to deceive a signatory.
Yet, why does law twist everything up so badly? Lina threatens to sue the studio, simply because her contract stipulates that the studio must not endanger her reputation. Anybody with common sense will realize that this does not allow Lina to domineer Kathy’s entire career. Furthermore, simply publicizing Kathy’s role is not a deliberate attempt to vilify Lina; yet, the law allows the prosecution to argue that it did, even if her reputation was damaged by other, unrelated causes.
Or does it? You see, film is meant to deceive. Everything we watch is a deception. Even the media desperately inflates and highlights certain profitable events, giving television-soaked adolescents a twisted view of society. I have no doubt that our current legal system is the best legal system ever created, as anything that evolves can only get better. Or is that only what they want us to think…?! *conspiracy-face*
The entire concept of Singin’ in the Rain is of televised deception, irony, and hypocrisy (my favourite things!). From Don’s opening speech of dignity, dignity, dignity (over reflections of his, shall we say, vulgar maturation) to Lina’s stunning ‘elegance’, as an audience member remarks, “She’s so refined. I think I’ll kill myself!” – ironic, since we know Lina’s a country bumpkin. I think. She’s a country bumpkin, right? I know what I’m talking about! What do you think I am, dumb or something?
However, this on-screen irony is intentional, and played for an interesting effect; words are always lies, and people are always lying, but the images on-screen are always true. The climatic Broadway dance segment (which I felt quite jarring, uselessly cutting into the narrative with a flimsy plot device; I mean, how the well do you insert that scene into the Dancing Cavalier?) illustrates Don’s inner feelings of the film industry quite splendidly in a way that can’t be conveyed with words. Indeed, the entire imaginary dance scene (inside a play… inside the film… inside this film) is completely silent.
This irony used in Singin’ in the Rain is quite charming – entertaining, thoughtful, and picturesque. The hypocrisy outside of it, not so much. You see, Lina’s actress used her normal voice to record Kathy’s ‘dub’; that is to say, Lina’s actress dubs Kathy dubbing Lina. Yes. Really. (Not to mention that several of Kathy’s singing segments were also dubbed by an uncredited Betty Noyes, who was better at singing than both of them.)
Finally, recall the test screening of the Duelling Cavalier. It was a massive flop by every standard but the most important one.
Why do we watch movies?
I can answer that question. I watch movies to blog them. Oh wait, that’s anime. T mean,
I watch movies because Jesus159159159 tells me to I WATCH MOVIES FOR FUN.
Would a silent film like the Duelling Cavalier really be more fun than the comical voiced version? What did you like watching more, Horizon or Joshiraku? Did you have more fun reading Sword Art Online‘s sixth chapter or its sixteenth-and-a-halfth?
These are ambiguous questions, and people will be split both ways by them. Yet, I stand as an example of one who prefers the unintentionally humorous, thus confirming their existence: a movie does not have to be artistic, or competently directed, or well-scripted, to entertain. There are many ways of measuring a movie’s success: the general public’s reception, film ratings by prominent critiques, its overall box office revenue, or a lasting cultural legacy. Even so, an entertaining movie is always, without exception, a good movie. Maybe not a profitable movie, or a movie that critics will enjoy, but humans have never went to the movies to explore their own cultural identity, or to remark upon the director’s efficacy to endear their characters.
We all watch movies for fun. The Duelling Cavalier shows that through the ages, ever since the dawn of humanity, mockery has always been entertaining. I was going to say something to conclude this but I forgot what I was going to say.
IN CONCLUSION SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN WAS A PRETTY GOOD MOVIE AND I LIKED IT ENOUGH TO WRITE THIS HALF-ASSED ESSAY ABOUT IT ok now bye
P.S. I thought some songs were put in rather unnecessarily, and there may be a reason: the script was reportedly made /around/ the songs, kinda like one of those games in drama/creative writing class where you have to make a plot out of several gimmicks. Concluding words: oh, musicals