"We need to play now, and loud!" - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #117

Alternative hall of fame inductee number two - Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.
In 2010 I was still very much in the throes of a ‘metalhead’ (as I defined myself) and I was reeling from all manner of ill-conceived notions about the world and just starting the emotional maturation and exploration which I can say I am currently in the middle of. I’d just been to see a film on the advisement of someone or other and it had kinda sorta blow my mind. I called up the HQ bunker on a classic hand-cranked world war one-era phone of the metal revolution to question the authority, “was it just me, or are we all wrong? Did Scott Pilgrim versus the World not just nail the beauty” the answer came back in the affirmative and I had to sit there a moment, dumbstruck. I sat and wrote screeds, article after article trying to explain to myself exactly why Scott Pilgrim versus the World was the shit and very much of the now. How it so effectively nails the beauty, but I couldn’t. Very recently I’ve dug up both soundtrack albums and I’ve finally made sense of it. It was the rock and roll soundtrack, the faux-Japano freerock purveyed by the titular character as well as all the rest, the quality unknowns, even a bit of T-Rex. It was the faded rock shirt wrapped around the baseball bat, making the savage latenight beating all the more vicious and deadly silent as the sheer genius vision caves in yer skull and then. Because of course while it is a potential turning point and I very well believe in ten years’ time it’ll be seen as the movie that speaks for all of us, we’ll all be cribbing lines from it, nobody want to see Scott Pilgrim. When people start telling you they saw it in 2010, be honest with them, the box office figures don’t add up.

Scott Pilgrim was not only reference-packed nerd bait, imaginative, smartly written, perfectly paced, funny and idiosyncratic; it was also the first (perhaps only) film to intellectually and realistically tackle what it really means to be a member of Generation (wh)Y. The titular character is a young man who processes his struggling band and his barely-there relationship with a younger college girl and attempts to get with a world-weary pixie who has him figured out from minute one using time-worn awesome rock and roll and video game and pop-cult references. It certainly has more to say about human relationships in the 21st century than any amount of middle-class snobbish entitled pastel-shaded poster preachyness. Uniquely for what is a rom-com, Scott is a whiny, entitled, self-absorbed, stupid character, particularly at the beginning; the audience is never asked to like him or sympathise with him but he is endearing; away from the usual generically handsome men and women who populate rom-coms who seek to manipulate men or women and convince them that really, I’m thoughtful and good looking and so much better than the men you’re with currently, if only you’d see. Most importantly, sexuality is a nonissue; characters are gay, straight, bisexual, it doesn’t matter; everyone is welcome. This is the 21st century.
From the comics, the drummer of Sex Bob-Om. Image by Chickabowow-Fafa, original illustration by Bryan Lee O'Malley
A soundtrack is vital to any film, and in the case of Pilgrim, it gives the film it’s weird OTT power. A soundtrack is the beat of your movie, the tempo card and the emotional cheat-sheet. Film soundtracks are usually a directors own mixtape, a selection of well-known classics thrown together with a few underground anthems; Scott Pilgrim is crucially different because it not only has original music, but original music that is integral to the plot and played by the actors. There’s the hits of Scott’s own band, Sex Bob-omb (yes, as in Super Mario Brothers), Crash and the Boys and his ex, Envy’s stratospherically famous band the Clash at Demonhead. These songs in the film are spectacularly well executed; I find myself loving them all, even the ones that by rights I ought to despise. Sex Bob-omb are an orgy of japano freerock fully High-Rise’d and played through the hipster filter; as their raucous noisy song fills the opening credits, I fell in love with Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. At the heart of the movie, as its driving force was this energetic youthful noise, espousing both what was superb about the film and the music, and by extension, life. Scott has music, and all he needs is someone to share this mystery with, just as we all do.
Written under duress by Steven, obviously.

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