February 18, 2005

One of the part-time jobs I most enjoy is co-teaching a musical theater writing class at NYU. Every semester, we take another group of undergrads through the basic principles of constructing musicals and watch them blossom and grow. Every semester there are wonderful surprises as they bring in songs that delight and amaze with their freshness of voice and maturity of perspective.

We also occasionally give them listening or viewing assignments so that they can pillage techniques used by the masters of the form. This semester we told them, as we often do, to watch The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Jacques Demy’s 1964 French movie musical featuring one of the greatest love songs of all time, “Je Ne Pourrai Jamais Vivre Sans Toi” (known in English as “I Will Wait For You”), and, even more importantly, starring your favorite gay icon and mine, Catherine Deneuve, in the role that first shot her to stardom. Since then, she has appeared in over 100 movies, apparently growing more beautiful by the hour, and even inspired a lesbian magazine (which has since, alas, had to change its name).

So last night in class, as we were discussing the movie and what it had to offer us as writers, one of our homosexual students, making the point that each character seemed to have his or her own music, said, “like, there was the blonde girl’s ‘I’m sad’ song.”

I like this student a great deal, but the blonde girl’s ‘I’m sad’ song?

I’m going to kill myself.

O brave new world, that has such people in’t!

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15 Responses to One of the part-time jobs

  1. David says:

    While I am as gay as they come, and I have HEARD OF Catherine Deneuve, I wouldn’t recognize her if she hit me over the head with a brick. I am also fairly certain I have never heard her sing a song about waiting for a person or even waiting for a bus. Kill yourself if you must, but I think your standards were too high to begin with.

  2. Chris says:

    Is it possible for the French to make a movie Catherine Deneuve?

    From Est-Ouest to Indochine to Eight Women, she is absolutely incredible.

    And hell, I’m fairly certain The Hunger made me gay.

  3. David says:

    All I know of Catherin Deneuve is that she was in Dancer in the Dark. Bjork was in that, too. That’s gay enough, right?

    I like how you made sure to distinguish that it was a homosexual student who made the comment. I would have assumed it was a given considering the type of class.

    Ah, I kid!

  4. Brian says:

    Ah, Faustus, the queer youth need elders such as yourself to keep them from going astray.

  5. christopher says:

    My being English coupled with my time living in NYC made me very aware of this gay Anglo / American showtune disparity thing. It’s interesting. It would seem that all of my gay friends in NYC have some kind of extra DNA strand which predisposes them to be able to belt out the most random showtune at the drop of a hat.

    British gayers have not the first clue about showtunes. Instead we have a built-in and extensive knowledge of eurogay music, e.g. the life and times of Aqua.

    Which would you rather have?

  6. Kevin says:

    Teaching impoverished kids how to succeed, teaching recovering addicts how to be fit, teaching college students how to write musicals…

    You’re my hero, Faustus.

  7. i. bendito says:

    Mend their TV-braised brains.

  8. David: Catherine Deneuve would never, ever hit you over the head with a brick. Your last sentence has defined my character.

    Chris: The Hunger would have made me gay if I hadn’t already been gay by the time I saw it.

    David: Yes, that’s gay enough. And, in fact, we do get the occasional heterosexual student, whom I would be more likely to forgive such a trespass.

    Brian: Don’t they, though?

    Christopher: I think it’s not necessarily an English/American thing. I know some English show-tune queens and some American eurofag-music queens. My boyfriend is, alas, among the latter.

    Kevin: Yes. Now, if only I could teach myself not to go through every day filled with dread and fear, that would really be something.

    i. bendito: I’m working on it. One fag at a time.

  9. Rob says:

    So, it was the homosexual student’s “I’m shallow” monologue.

  10. Rob: Oh, dear. And yet . . . if I recall correctly, you think The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is boring. Nonetheless, you are a good enough friend that I am willing to forgive you this lapse of taste.

  11. Jeffrey says:

    I have not yet seen this movie, but feel like I must. However, I’m wondering how they get “I Will Wait for You” from a French phrase that (oh, I hope I’m reading this right) translates as “I Could Never Live Without You”?

  12. Patrick says:

    Behold…the future of our society…

  13. Bob says:

    Fret not, Faustus. I’m a college student, and I know who Catherine Deneuve is. I have seen The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, though I must say that I enjoyed Les Demoiselles de Rochefort more. Not all hope is lost.

  14. Jeff: You’re absolutely right, but it’s a singing translation, so the fact that “I will never be able to live without you” doesn’t really fit the music becomes a problem. And yes, you must see the movie.

    Patrick: It’s enough to make you want to put your eyes out, isn’t it?

    Bob: What do you think of Donkey Skin?

  15. Adam875 says:

    The Umbrellas of what now? Katharine who? It all sounds very French, which is enough to make me stay away forever, even if there are good showtunes involved.


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