Tuesday, November 24, 2009

- C A M P U S ... L I F E -

Pirate Radio Rocks, by Martin Catudio.. In 1966, cutting edge comedian, Lenny Bruce, banned from entering either Britain or Australia, died of an overdose of drugs, subsequent to his imprisonment on obscenity charges.
Now to the movie, Pirate Radio, set in 1966, almost entirely on a ship floating 25 miles off the coast of Great Britain because it plays music 'banned in Britain'. While there is historical accuracy lending credibility to the premise, the film stretches references to the extreme and the story falls short, drifting much like its titular vessel does until an improbable Titanic-like finish. While its stellar cast list crews the boat, the journey goes nowhere.
.. The plot begs the question: What's the point of the movie? The important element of what's socially taboo back in 1966, or even 1967, UK is noticeably absent from its nearly 2 hour love fest of 60's music. Just like Bruce's transgressions, there is no explanation - just shows of jesting, sexual antics and legal conflict.... For the full review, click Comment 1.


  1. The entire plot takes place on a ship and while there are many opportunities to laugh at the antics of the characters in the movie, it begs the question: What's the point of the movie if the element of what's obscene and filthy in 1966, or 1967 for that matter, is noticeably absent from its nearly 2 hour love fest of 60's music.
    Like satiricist Bruce never had answered what is so filthy objectionable about his stand-up comedy, more improvisational than the calculated style planned by this movie. Never in this cinematic romp, do we find out why the music, lyrics, or groups of its era were marginalized and outright banned from performing and playing in Great Britain. To us, the viewer, all is acceptable. The occasional deflowering of a young innocent is merely a Machiavellian manipulation of the script to move things along and a reason to introduce a song.
    The plot moves quickly, and thickly. The music fits, and clicks. The jesting was well-timed, inducing a laughingly good time. But again, the topic of being censored or banned from playing music is no laughing matter and one feels let down this theme wasn't more fully developed. Unfortunately, that's all that Pirate Radio has to offer. Despite its attempt to portray a time when music, artists, and access to performing was still predicated on color, age, or even payola, nothing was mentioned about all those barriers that future artists managed to overcome because of the sacrifices of musicians before them. These omissions themselves seem obscene.
    Pirate Radio misses the boat because, even now, music is marginalized by who controls its production and distribution. Only in the last 4 to 5 years, have barriers such as these come down, allowing almost anyone with vocal cords and a CD burner to become a music producer and distributor. But clearly, it is still a rigged game, with emphasis on good looks, and partnerships with global media conglomerates & sponsorship. Even the increasing power of social media that gives voice to 'grass roots' artists - only a handful of whom rises to compete with star-makers' prodigies - can compete with the machine.
    Cutting edge music is like seeing a cutting edge movie; people want to see it because it's visceral and alive. Consider the classic film, 'In the Heat of the Night', wherein is portrayed a white man slapping a black man, and the black man slaps the white man back. That was cutting edge for 1967 because it attacked the notion of social order. Think of all the music you like and, perhaps, you like it because it is so different and not 'mainstream.' Pirate Radio plays to mainstream sensibilities. It manages to look good just as it sounds good. There is nothing visceral or cutting edge about, except an insidious ignorance of what really matters.

  2. Turns out the flick was severely edited, changing it substantially from its UK release more than half-a-year before its USA debut. Wonder how much better it might have been?
    Your review gets the miss right on! So much talent, and a good opportunity wasted.
    The music is good, though.