Tick Tick… BOOM (2021)

For those who are reading I have a question, when was the last time you felt you were being yourself? no branding on your side but your naked flesh and thoughts, when was it?

There are certain movies that come to you just at the right time. Better put, you find certain movies in special places of your own journey. It has to do with some unconscious search for meaning, for guidance and stories are always there to shine a light in dark places. Tick Tick… Boom did that for me anyways, it reminded me the reason for all the struggle in finding meanings of expression, in not complying to the form, to the ever present tentacles of consumerism and faceless corporate self expression. Cause now more than ever we’re being sucked into branding and conform, to the one-dimensional man predicted by Herbert Marcuse, that being sucked out of all forms of authenticity, all means of originality, forced into industrial replication and easily understandable placing in the chain of production.

Okay, you don’t need to answer right now, let me tell you about the story first. This is about musical theatre composer and performer Jonathan Larson, who’s on his way to turn 30 having done anything with his life, in the formal social sense of the idea, struggling to put together his opera prima “Superbia” and hopefully use it to build a career as a musical composer in New York. Now, as he does this he has to face a number of complications arising mostly from the life he carries and the people around him. At the beginning of the movie, it’s stated that Jon has an almost completely artists based circle of friends. but as the movie progresses we come to understand that many of them chose to follow different careers due to the difficulties to survive or make it as one. This being the quintessential problem that artists around the globe face every day, right? the inability to make money out of self expression.

I don’t know where I read this, but there’s this idea that all people are selfish, yet artists are kind enough to show it. In Tick Tick Boom we find this idea portrayed many times, mostly in the relationships Jon has with his girlfriend and best friend. I mean he has this fixed idea about his project and many times has to face others trying to catch his attention into their own lives. There’s a particular lucid moment when Jon’s girlfriend asks him to accompany her to a job opportunity outside New York, a place where she can build her own path. Jon evades this conversation because deep inside he knows he’s not gonna go, right? he has his own dreams. So, what happens? The girlfriend ends up confessing she only wanted for him to say he wanted for her to stay, she says this after noticing that Jon is more fixated than ever in his writing. Jon admits he wants this and immediately has an inspiration moment for a song he desperately needs, she notices this and breaks up with him, shocked that he’s using the moment to further write his play. Was she jealous of him at this point for being so committed? I don’t know, it kinda hit there for me but if it is true, it’s only implied.

I’ve found a similar idea in “A Ghost Story”, in that movie the couple fails to communicate with each other, mostly because he’s using the pain he’s feeling with her as a means of expression for his music, he does this because he knows and wants her to listen to the songs he’s writing, but also because he’s an artist and making art is his way to make a living. In here we find a similar idea, the harvesting of life itself into the emotional journey of an artistic piece that can possibly connect with millions of people.

Any artists there? If you’re one you should definitely watch this movie, it will help you understand a bit better about your own life and choices, which may seem irrational many times, let’s face it, almost all the time! But the thing is, you’re not wrong in pursuing your own life, your own path. As better stated by Jon himself, “cage or wings… ask the birds”.

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