it seems quite incredible the depth of thought that can come from watching rent for the 9 millionth time. i was watching the deleted scenes with the directors comments (because when you watch it so much, you need some flair), and there was a scene in which Mark the camera man and Roger the musician have an argument, which i had long since forgotten was in the musical version. but basically, angel had just died and roger didn’t want to be around when mimi dies and mark calls him out on it. of course, the entire argument is sung.
anyway, as a way of turning the attention from his own shortcomings, roger redirects the fight toward mark. he says, “what about you?” then he launches into a solo about how mark is always saying “you must feel for the people” but in actuality he hides behind the camera.

then, while watching the movie as the director released it, i stumble upon the scene where the gang is outside and a bag lady is getting pushed around by the cop (this is right before Santa Fe, for those of you following along at home). mark, with camera ever ready at the helm, says, “smile officer…” and the cops just tell the bag lady she needs to move it. but then, the bag lady just launches into mark! she says something along the line of “you an artist? you artists always ready to [paraphrasing here: make a case out of my life’s conditions”]. THEN she says, “artists got a quarter? that’s what i thought.” [because they don’t have a quarter. they’re poor. they can’t pay the rent, thus the theme song and purpose of the movie.]

and you’re thinking to yourself, “umhumm. so?”

and i say to you, what a tragedy.

it’s a tragedy when you become so familiar with life’s pitfalls and difficulties that we don’t begin to search for ways to find more quarters. instead, the approach is usually to use someone’s life as an example of why this or that ought not to be.

if you’ve ever worked in a job that required you to connect on an emotional level with people, you know the dangerous dance (almost a Tango Maureen) that is the love and help you show people versus your own mental and emotional sanity. knowing your limits. knowing whats best and how to truly help a person. dangerous dance. but i’m wondering if sometimes we allow ourselves to veer to the side of safety- get behind a videocamera- simply because it’s too hard to go there with that person. that we want to feel as if we’re doing something to make the wrongs right, but in actuality we haven’t identified ourselves with those who are hurting at all.

this is a really long post that is going to leave a lot of people disappointed when it comes to no real conclusion. all i know is that, 5 hours after watching the movie, it has me all keyed up. i’m wondering what my video camera is. i’m wondering who i identify with (because that’s the essence of mark and roger’s adventures- they have the ability to do more but choose to live where and as they do because they want to “fight the larger powers that be”)- who do i want to identify with but really i just know a lot about them. who is saying, “stop writing blogs of ungodly length and just give me a quarter!”

*ps, though i love comments, please refrain from using the “give a man a fish/teach a man to fish” argument. this isn’t about economics. it’s about compassion. we’ll save the fishing for another day.

Visit me elsewhere: