Friday, July 20, 2018

Stuff white boomers like

Apparently, we're reaching the centenary of composer/conductor Leonard Bernstein. TCM is marking the occasion, as is much of the classical music world. In and of itself, that's no big deal. I've marked the birth anniversaries of multiple film composers before, and Bernstein did work on multiple movies, as did a fair number of other composers who are generally more remembered for their non-film work: Aaron Copland did The Red Pony, and Ralph Vaughan Williams did 49th Parallel, just off the top of my head. Also, some of the composers generally known as movie composers wrote "serious", non-film classical music too.

With that in mind, TCM is running three movies tonight with scores by Bernstein: West Side Story at 8:00 PM; On the Town (music by Bernstein and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green) at 10:45 PM, and On the Waterfront at 12:30 AM. It's a worthy tribute and three really good movies.

But that's not what prompted the title of my post. What rubs me the wrong way is that TCM is wasting the Saturday and Sunday prime time lineups with a bunch of "Young People's Concerts" TV Specials. There are five on Saturday night, and thankfully, they're programmed around Noir Alley. But there are seven on Sunday night, which go all the way up to 4:00 AM. So there's no Silent Sunday Nights selection or TCM Import this weekend.

This is classical music, not movies. Ah, but the shows aired in the 1961s, when the Baby Boomers were growing up. I don't know the demographics of the TCM programmers, but for a long time, even before I started this blog, I've noticed what seems to be the idea that things that were cultural touchstones for the boomers ought to be touchstones for the rest of us. I've also stated before that I have no particular problem with movies from the 1960s, and that I even enjoy the set design since it was created by people contemporaneous with the era they were depicting. (See my post on Marriage on the Rocks for example.)

But the doe-eyed look back at the 1960s has always bothered me. It's a theme I've also mentioned several times in the past, especially when it comes to movies that whine about suburbia. I'm glad that TCM recently aired No Down Payment, for example, even if the fim has serious flaws. I just hate the whole vibe of "the movie is making critical comments about the suburbs; therefore it's great" that I read from quite a few viewers. And somewhat unrelated, but to bring it back to classical music, a few years back during one of the local classical music station's begathons (er, "pledge drives"), they aired a special on... Tom Lehrer. Not classical music, but you can guess who it appeals to.

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