HomeBlogsMister Tim's blogGLEEful suspension of belief?

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I can suspend my belief for the sake of entertainment.  I can suspend my belief for the sake of an argument, or for an intellectual exercise.  

There are some demands on my ability to suspend belief, however, that just go too far.  

From a very young age I was acutely aware when musicians in movies or on TV were faking it.  You know, when the conductor of the wedding band in the background of the shot is beating a tempo completely unrelated to the music you're hearing?

I am willing to forgive this kind of problem... I understand that it is a problem of filming, they don't have the soundtrack when they're filming, etc.

I was aware when the musicians in the wedding band were actually actors.  They didn't know how to hold a horn.  This bothered me a bit more, because how hard is it to hire a musician to sit there and hold a horn?  Or at the very least, for that low-level, maybe-now-I-can-get-my-union-card bit actor to take ten minutes to learn how to hold an instrument.

More difficult to forgive are when the lead actors are playing musicians, and are obviously, painful unaware of how their instrument works.  I distinctly remember an episode of The Cosby Show where the Huxtables go to a jazz club with Grandpa, who plays trombone.  There were all kinds of legit, amazing jazz legends hanging out at the club playing with Grandpa: I mean, not actors playing real musicians, but they were the actual legendary jazz musicians.  Except Grandpa was an actor, and when he 'played' trombone it was HORRIBLE.  Seriously, I couldn't have been older than 10, and I was disturbed by this dude obviously NOT being a musician.  

So I haven't watched GLEE.  Yet.  Planning to.  But I've seen clips.  Mostly musical numbers.  My problem with the show, and the biggest reason I'm hesitating to watch it, is this: you really expect me to believe that THEY could sound like THAT???

I've met talented high school students.  I've heard great voices in high school musicals, choirs, small ensembles.  I've never heard voices like THAT.  I've rarely heard COLLEGE singers like that.

I understand that it's television.  I understand no one would want to hear high school singers as they really sound (no one but their parents do!  ZING!!!).  I get the conventions of television.

I get that the same holds true for sports movies where a rag tag group of no-talents get together and win the championship.  I understand it's essentially the same thing as a Rambo single-handedly annihilating an entire army.

But, COME ON.  The dross and refuse of a small midwestern school straggle in and within weeks are rocking out pro-level production numbers?

Worse, four middle aged guys WHO TEACH AT A HIGH SCHOOL get together and rip out CD-quality sound at their local bar?  With nary a sound guy in sight?  Singing too many parts than they have people for?  The crap they were 'singing' on stage: I've never heard a PRO group sound that tight.  Of course not.  It was a tuned/produced CD track.  That is just a bit too amazing.  That is just asking too much of my ability to suspend reality.

Look, I am just as skeptical when I watch movies with brilliant, professionally-choreographed high school dancers.  Ya, right.  I can't watch high school relationship dramas because I just can't live with the absurdity that there are that many beautiful, articulate, self-aware people in a high school.  That just isn't REALITY.

So that's it.  My problem with GLEE is that the music is TOO GOOD.  I know, the audience doesn't want to listen to bad music (unless it's on America's Got Talent! ZING!!!).  But COME ON.  At least let them grow into it.  At least let them struggle with a pitch here or there, or not be BREATHTAKINGLYPERFECT on every single note and movement.

I'm sure there are a million examples of TV or movies that do this... stick 'em in the comments below.  For example, I enjoyed Mr. Holland's Opus (the movie the convinced me NOT to be a band teacher) until the end: big farewell concert, full of former students, most of whom haven't touched their instrument in 10-30 years, and they sound like THAT?  I'm sorry.

Comments

Just be glad....

You woke up today because Jack Bauer saved your life.

my issue is...

This show is "High School Musical" heavily marketed towards adults, and on TV. And it's been successful - people are gushing about it as if it's truly brilliant. It is not, in large part because of the things you mention. It's a kids' show, for teenagers, with predictable plots, the-outsiders-are-the-cool-ones tired old conventions (for every episode, I'm guessing, from here on in), and adult actors pretending to be high school students. And Jane Lynch. People seem to love her, but I find her creepy and UN-funny. I give it a big 'ol thumbs down.

Amy Malkoff http://www.amymalkoff.com/harmony CASA (Contemporary A Cappella Society) Program Manager + Director of Web Content - http://www.casa.org Judge - ICCA, ICHSA, Harmony Sweepstakes, etc.

Cosby episode

'kay so I looked up the cosby episode:

Season 2, episode 17, originally aired February 13, 1986... so I wasn't even 9 yet.

"The jazz group that Russell played with years ago reunites for a tribute show. Guest appearances by jazz musicians Tito PuenteArt BlakeyPercy HeathJimmy HeathTommy FlanaganEric GaleJoe WilderCarlos Valdes ("Patato"), Bootsie Barnes, and Jimmy Oliver. Slide Hampton provided the audio track for Russell's trombone solos."

Behold, the power of the google search.

Since I grew up playing the

Since I grew up playing the piano, it always bothered me SO much when people would pretend to play on TV.  It's easy enough, I figured, since they can just hide their actual hands from view of the camera.  Unfortunately, when the song would go up, they would go down with their arms, etc.  So obviously fake.

I asked my non-musical friends at the time, and they never noticed it.

It makes me wonder what's happening on the screen that I never notice.

--Dave Brown

now: Mouth Off host | ICCA & CARA Judge

then: CASA president, CASAcademy director, CASA Bd of Directors | BYU Vocal Point | Noteworthy co-foun

Hmm

Timothy,

How's about you watch the show first... *then* pass your ivory tower judgments on it? :P 

Matt Emery CASA Director of Communications Three-time Recipient of RARB "Post of the Year" Title

......wtf

ok....a couple of things are wrong with your hypothesis......1) most of the "actors" in glee are professional and head cheerleader.....singers from all walks of the entertainment business. The teacher and the lead girl are both huge BROADWAY stars where you can't fake sound and quite a few of the secondary characters came from broadway. On a broadway stage its you and just you....The teacher in his younger years was the lead in hairspray. 2) Your right most high schoolers dont sing like that but these kids do. Its not uncommon for young talent to show up like that

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