The Future is Past
Yeah. Sorry for the radio silence but it’s been a tough time lately and I just haven’t had the energy to do much of anything creative. But I’m trying, hence back here. If I’m honest, I felt I had to post today, because I wanted to link to an article I read today. It sucks - not the article, but the situation it describes, so let’s dig in.
Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault, Rape
We’ve seen the #MeToo movement drastically change a lot of environments for the better, the vile Harvey Weinstein being one of the most famous cases, and while a lot of people (men) still need to understand it and sort out their shit, it’s also been going on in the world of film and video game music. This piece in The Guardian explains the crusading of composer Nomi Abadi and her attempts to highlight a lot of abhorrent behaviour from men, things that have happened in the industry but have gone unnoticed. Abadi created the Female Composer Safety League, a safe space for victims of these crimes where they are able to tell their stories and look for the accountability that is sorely needed in these cases. Some of the incidents mentioned range from verbal abuse to sexual harassment to rape.
The article also covers the dysfunction of the industry and how abuse is rampant because of men in positions of power as composers who have assistants doing everything they ask for. The deadlines that the composers get mean they need all the help they can get, but this can easily turn into toxicity, as is mentioned in the article with composer Tom Holkenborg/Junkie XL, who has apparently had trouble keeping his own assistants because of the environment. Others have been given nicknames or have not been named - I did a little research and discovered one identity but I’m not sure I want to put it here until I know I won’t get sued. Please read and share the article; this is very important and it needs to be recognised that we will not tolerate this behaviour.
RIP Gerald Fried
Sad news this week with the departure of composer Gerald Fried. A much-loved person, Fried composed music for a number of films and television shows, with a resume that would make anyone envious. Fried actually began his career scoring films for Stanley Kubrick, such as “Killer’s Kiss” and the amazing “Paths of Glory,” with the pair being friends since childhood, and went on to write for a number of TV shows including “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” “Gilligan’s Island,” and “Mission: Impossible,” as well as co-composing the music for the epic miniseries “Roots” with the great Quincy Jones. However, he is possibly best remembered for his wonderful contributions to the original “Star Trek” series, which helped define the musical tone of the show. He also wrote the famous battle music for the episode “Amok Time,” which featured Kirk and Spock fighting each other on the planet Vulcan. That would be a fine legacy to leave on its own.
Speaking of Star Trek, the third season of “Star Trek: Picard” began last week. This one has been touted as the proper ending to “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” with the entire crew of Enterprises D and E returning to rave reviews. Personally, I’m not convinced, but it’s only been one episode. Tonally it’s all over the place and some of the writing and narrative decisions have been poor. The casting is good though and there are some new spaceships that are pretty nifty. The problem is what has come before. This season is fairly obsessed with the previous show - the first episode is called “The Next Generation” - and there are all sorts of nods to it, from tiny easter eggs to the liberal use of Jerry Goldsmith’s themes from the “TNG” corner of the franchise, including his gorgeous main theme from “Star Trek: First Contact.” Nevertheless, as nice as it is hearing these newly-recorded, they sometimes appear to the point of distraction.
It’s not just Goldsmith’s music either; Alexander Courage’s original fanfare is there as well as stylistic homages to James Horner’s scores from “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” and “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.” There’s a scene where the main ship, which itself looks deliberately like the Enterprise refit from the original cast movies, is seen in the space dock before departing, and with the hints of Goldsmith, Courage, and then Horner, it just feels like it’s too much. We’ve already seen those movies, there’s no reason to regurgitate those scenes once again with that music, other than to say “Hey, remember when Star Trek was good?” It does feel like the whole endeavour is a course correction from the previous seasons, which tried to do new things and then fell back on doing old things, neither of which really worked. Still, I’m a Star Trek fan and an idiot, so I’m still strangely excited and compelled to check out the next episode.
Planning on doing some more Q&As soon, as well as picking the Friday Five back up, so feel free to leave questions and suggestions for those below, or on my Twitter.
Have a better one.
Thanks for reading MOVIEDRONE! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
Welcome back Charlie. A fine new column. I read that MeToo column recently as well, glad to see it being shared around. - rdl