School of Rock: Selling it to the Man? Essay

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Jack Black is very funny. He steals movies where he has supporting parts like High Fidelity, and his performance with Will Ferrell at the Oscars was the highlight of a very predictable awards show. Black’s persona is a fascinating paradox; I like the oxymoron that Entertainment Weekly recently created for him: the frenetic slacker. Black’s characters seem to be very passionate, but that energy is reserved for activities that seem to serve little “productive” value in our current economic order. Hence Barry, the part-time clerk who puts in full-time hours at Championship Vinyl in High Fidelity and berates customers whose tastes he finds offensive. Where the lead character Rob comes to the realization that emotionally he’s been living in an …show more content…
The “unconventional-but inspirational teacher” theme is also highly familiar; School of Rock could easily be called Dead Rockers Society, among other titles (Goodbye, Mr. Potato Chips?). The outsider who steps into a straight-laced social order and turns things around had one of its more successful turns in the nineties with the Whoopi Goldberg vehicle, Sister Act, where Whoopi’s “Sister Mary Clarence,” hiding in a convent from a killer whom she witnessed in the act, shakes up the nunnery with her devotional soul music. Generally speaking the positive reviews the film received centered around Mike White’s well-written script, Linklater’s touches of realism in what is essentially a fairy tale, and Black’s charm, including his rapport with the generally strong child cast (most of the band members were hired for their musical talents first; some of them had never acted before). This is all true, as far as I am concerned.

For me, what’s interesting about School of Rock is not its relationship to countless other fish-out-of-water films, or even necessarily its relationship to other rock and roll films. It’s what I call the rock and roll rhetoric, the social assumptions about rock music that those who love it assert as a means of justifying their interest in it. According to Rock and Roll Rhetoric, rock sets you free from conformity, from boredom, even from the everyday, nine-to-five world. Rock and roll, Dewey tells the kids, is about “stickin’…

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