Frank Wedekind is Rolling in His Grave

Alright, so there were a few things I wanted to post this week, but I have to start with this because I found it so unbelievably, mindbogglingly strange that I couldn’t help but share it. Remember that cycle of plays by Frank Wedekind that we read in freshman year? Lulu, the story of a woman who entranced the men she met and destroyed them, only to be destroyed herself? Yeah, I do too. I remember enjoying it. And then I stumbled across this:

WHY. I mean, what is this. Seriously. It’s among the worst music I have ever heard. It sounds like someone threw a bunch of electric guitars, fuzz pedals, and percussion instruments into a room full of orangutans, held Lou Reed at gunpoint, and forced him to dub his voice over the whole thing. And the best part? It’s a completely sincere, serious work of art.

I’m surprised I hadn’t heard of this album earlier, to be honest. Apparently it was a pretty big deal. So much of a big deal that Metallica found themselves breaking down into tears during recording sessions because what they heard was so beautiful. I can’t make this stuff up.

But all judgments on the quality of the music aside, this collaboration brings up a damned interesting question for me. Because if, in the end, the album succeeds in exposing thousands of people to a theatrical work they would never have otherwise read, isn’t that a good thing? If Lulu moved these guys so much that they felt compelled to invest months of their time and millions of dollars into recording and promoting an album dedicated to it, doesn’t that show artistic integrity?

I guess it would be easier to defend them if the album wasn’t so terrible. (I dare you to make it more than halfway through that video.) Having a quality final product goes a long way towards justifying a concept, after all. In the end, though, can I – or anyone else, for that matter – judge Metallica or Lou Reed for making such a bold choice? They found something that inspired them and went into it full-force, probably knowing from the start that what they were trying to accomplish was both unconventional and altogether odd. That’s what I need to know, I suppose: does having good intentions for a work of art justify its creation? Or are there subjects and genres which certain artists need to stay out of, regardless of how much they want to participate in them?

I would rather they stay away from the theater in the future. Yet I wonder if it’s a little harsh to bash them for making an attempt at adapting Wedekind’s story. After all, the Lulu plays are excellent plays, and there’s no rule against interpreting them however one wishes.

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