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Tell Me on a Sunday: Swift Kick in the Pants

So they are making a movie of this musical called Les Miserables….maybe you’ve heard of it?

While I (think) I have made my feelings clear on this particular musical, I wanted to broach it about the casting of this movie. Now, clearly, I do not have (any) emotional investment in this musical or who is portraying any character. There are some amazing songs that I do love to hear (outside of the musical, I won’t pay a gajillion $ to wait for hours to hear a few songs), so I do care about who is singing, but not that much.

Casting news has trickled out and here is what is known so far:

Hugh Jackman – Jean Valjean
Russel Crowe – Javert
Anne Hathaway – Fantine
Sacha Baron Cohen – Thenardier
Helena Bonham Carter – Madame Thenardier
Amanda Seyfried – Cosette
Taylor Swift – Eponine

If I give you a moment to look over the list again, can you guess which person is causing the uber fans to have panic attacks and sling vicious vitriol across the Internet?

If you answered Amanda Sayfried, I would understand, because Mamma Mia did no one in that film any favors. But apparently she is opera trained, and from what (little) I saw of the last musical, she has a pretty voice.

But if you answered Taylor Swift, then…you win (your prize is being right, ta da!)

The reaction has been amazing to me. People have been FREAKING THE F*CK OUT over this.

So, I decided to compile some of the most oft given reasons for the overreaction and add my own opinions to them. Who would have guessed that theatre fans are overdramatic?

Reason #1 – This role should have gone to Lea Michele
Lea has an amazing voice. She is a fantastic theatrical/musically trained actress. I own many an album that she is singing on, and most of them are Glee soundtracks.
She also makes the worst singing faces on the planet and while that is ok on the stage (where you’re far away) and on Glee (where standards, continuity and plot are things that are not necessary…sorry thats a different post), I think this might not work on the big screen (see New Years Eve for more proof) for three hours at a time. Plus, she’s kind of busy taking over everything else in the world. She’s probably tired…

Reason #2 – Taylor can’t sing
Whether you like her or hate her, Taylor Swift is a superstar performer and singer who has won a bajillion awards in the last few years, including Billboard’s 2011 Woman of the Year and according to 2010 Nielsen SoundScan is the most successful digital artist in music history with over 34.3 million digital tracks sold. Clearly, some people are listening to her…

I grant the haters out there that she has never attempted something the magnitude of Eponine, but here’s her chance! The song is written as it’s written, it’s not like she’s going to turn it into a country song.

Reason #3 – Taylor can’t act and can’t bring the depth needed to the role
Valentine’s Day is referenced a lot in this reasoning, but I think she played the role of a bubbly, head over heels, slightly obnoxious teen in love pretty well…cause that’s the role. That’s how she was directed and that’s a subject matter she knows.

Some country songs and hers more specifically, are filled with girls in love, over romanticizing everything, wanting people they can’t have, and living in an imaginary world where their love conquers all.

Which is sad, because Eponine is ….all of that. Eponine is in her late teens, in love with a man who doesn’t love her, imagines her world as something it’s not when thinking of him and is over dramatic to the end. Huh…maybe this is something Taylor could do. It seems to be in her wheelhouse, yes?

I promise that my complete and utter hatred of this musical is not the reason I defend her. I defend her because I think these reasons are ridiculous. If you vow not to see this musical because she is in it, then fine, that’s your call. Even with my hatred of this musical, I will see this movie. It is bound to be an interesting and unique adaption of the show. Much like how Daniel Day Lewis was different  than Antonio Banderas’ portrayal of the main character in Nine, so will Taylor be different than any of the actresses that have played Eponine on stage.

To be clear, this is not a defense of Taylor in the role.  It’s more to point out that she’s not the worst choice in the world.  If she happens to bring a fraction of her music fans with her to the movie, is that so bad?  A few thousand more people giving money to a musical film that, if popular, may convince the studios to make more movie musicals?

If she’s terrible everyone gets to say “I told you so”, but until then can we give her and the project itself, the benefit of the doubt?   And in the end, many people auditioned for this role, Taylor got it. Get over it. This movie is directed by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) I think the guy knows how to make a movie.

What do you think?

3 thoughts on “Tell Me on a Sunday: Swift Kick in the Pants

  1. Like I said in my tweet, Tayor Swift is getting all this hate because she's kind of the younger version of Gwenyth Paltrow. There are plenty of people that love her, sure…but the segment of the population that hates her seems to be growing. Personally, I get annoyed with anyone who is that over exposed, so I kind of come down on the side of "WTF" when I hear people talk about how much they love her. I'm just not a fan.Would it stop me from seeing this movie? Probably not. I'd probably go and if I find her performance distasteful it likely won't totally ruin it for me. I mean, one of my favorite movies of all time is Kenneth Branaugh's version of "Much Ado About Nothing"…and remember…Keanu Reeves was in that. That casting was FAR more heinous than Taylor Swift as Eponine.

  2. This will shock you, I'm sure..,but I disagree. When Taylor has done elventybillion projects at the same time, plus talked smack about her country in a fake accent and tried to convince everyone that her "clean" diet is best while filing a cooking show sponsored by McDonalds, then we can compare her to Gwenyth.Taylor has done two films, but besides her perfume and her albums, where else is she showing up? Magazines are used to promote her albums,just like other artists, she has no control over what awards shows give out or how often the radio plays her songs. So I don't buy that either.I think people are jealous pure and simple. She's 20 years old, she's rich, famous, travels all around the world and is mega-successful. Yes, she's not a theatre performer so she is an unknown as Eponine, but this hatred is uncalled for. And frankly, makes me a little sad. Isn't theatre supposed to be inclusive and open to new ideas and interpretations?

  3. I just came off of a period wherein nearly everything I saw had to do with Taylor Swift. (Um, HI. For what seemed like an entire year, her freaking albums took over the entire music sections of EVERY TARGET STORE I WENT TO. That publicity machine behind her label did her no favors in my eyes). That said, I don't have a strong hatred for her, I'm just not that much of a fan. Sure, the comparison to Gwenyth seems like it's overkill. But what I'm trying to illustrate is that people seem to have a visceral reaction to Taylor, and I've found that to be true for Gwenyth as well. In my opinion, Gwenyth's total absence of self-awareness is far more heinous. She's kind of the ultimate privileged rich kid who (despite her insistence that she's more than meets the proverbial eye) never evolved much beyond that. In the case of Taylor, I just kind of got sick of her for a while there.Theater is supposed to be inclusive and open to new ideas, absolutely. But this is the movies. People, for whatever reason, see "movie acting" as different. I really don't know why – it's all acting. It's all interpretation. Different interpretations have innate value. Additionally, how many times have musical theater fans chafed at casting of actors that are not "theater actors" in major motion pictures? Madonna in Evita springs immediately to mind. Maybe I'm in the minority in this case, but I thought Madonna did a fine job. Not spectacular, but more than respectable for sure. In any case, this is nothing new. Theater fans do have their quirks, and plenty will admit that they feel a strong sense of "ownership" when it comes to movies based around an iconic show. I have found that most theater geeks feel that such a movie should have a cast of theater-trained actors (at least the majority of them). It's like they assign a special, heightened value to movies. To me, if you're a great actor, then you're a great actor. I really don't care where I observe a performance. Someone could be on a stage, on TV, or in a movie. An impressive performance is still an impressive performance. For me, I'll be watching Taylor's performance with interest.

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