Sunday, February 22, 2015

Whiplash drinking game

Waitaminit, 3&2&? What the hell are you  writing 
in a school chart, and why are you doing it in ink?
Well. I finally saw the movie Whiplash, and I'll say it definitely exceeded my expectations in the magnitude of how good it isn't. Even ignoring the avalanche of howlers, it's just a thoroughly unpleasant, unsatisfying movie— I'm genuinely mystified that people are so captivated by this film. That's the power of naked, mechanical, emotional manipulation, I guess. Shower an actor with abuse, and people will empathize with him even if you've done nothing else to develop his character, or make him likable in any way.

So, yeah. The movie is so riddled with errors in re: the world it purports to represent, I naturally figured that what is called for is a drinking game. Any time you and your friends want to get good and hammered, slap in the old Whiplash DVD and take a drink any time one of these things comes up:

A drumming performance that sounds like the soundtrack to a “shreds” video
A drumming performance that sounds like a bad Sunny Murray clone. [With apologies to Sunny.] 
A reference to “double-time swing.” 
Someone playing “double-time swing” like it's a polka.
A piece of drum equipment wrongly set up. 
A jazz student who looks like a JC Penney catalog underwear model.  
Gratuitous visual cue signifying paranoia, fear, alienation. 
An elite student musician with obviously terrible technique. 
An unimaginative, unfunny, homophobic/sexist slur. 
A strategic visual edit or camerawork to avoid showing that the star is definitely not playing the drumming on the soundtrack.   
Blood. Someone putting on a Band-aid.  
A 22" bass drum.  
A verbal or visual reference to a jazz drummer who is not Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, Max Roach, Art Blakey, Jack Dejohnette, or Philly Joe Jones.  
An obviously jive count-off— meaning every single count-off in the movie.   
Someone turning pages of someone else's music, or a reference to such. 
JK Simmons making an absurdly dramatic entrance. 
JK Simmons demanding something random from a student. 
Abuse of an instrument.  
An injury to a part of the hand that never touches the drumstick. 

That ought to get you started. That's just off the top of my head, having seen the movie one time. Feel free to add your entries in the comments. Enjoy, and please drink responsibly. Take very small sips.


Anonymous said...

When you see a Jazz student in 2015 using a discman

When you see a black t-shirt

Anonymous said...

Hi Todd. Well, I tried to watch Whiplash yesterday, on the high recommendations of several. I found your remarks, which I read after, to be accurate. It is truly an insufferable film, so unreal and cartoonish. Your point about Miles bleeding on places where you don't even grip the stick (RH thumb web) was spot on---sheesh, how absurd! So too was your list of triggers for a drinking game.
And the most ridonculous feature was the normally affable (and even cute) JK Simmons cast as so extraordinarily menacing and sadistic. The black boots, black leather jacket, and tight black shirt revealing startlingly high bufficity (is that a word?)! He had exactly the same look and manner as the prison guard from The Shawshank Redemption who kicked the fat inmate to death. Only here that character was a jazz director!
With the gratuitous profanity and needless bullying I couldn't last the whole movie. It was like Rocky without the underdog-likability and like Drumline without the fat guy satisfyingly punching out Nick Cannon for playing on his drum.
Todd, since I had to search for your Whiplash reviews I was treated along the way to the vast scope and high quality of your writing. Great work, Cruise Ship Drummer-Sensei! - Kevin Super

Anonymous said...

Most of the things you bring to light are very true, however, I did survive a college Jazz prof who was VERY much like this character, short of the VERY personal attacks on peoples character, but the profanity and degradation were part of the daily routine. The whole "are you out of tune thing", actually saw a very similar scenario in rehearsal once, and grand entrances were common, with the GOD like sense (except with black turtlenecks). As to the band aids and their placement I was also confused, let alone practicing until he bled. Have had my fair share of blisters, and LOTS of practice myself, but never knew ANYONE that got to that point. Got the point of the movie, which I agree with for the most part, but man I've had bad HS students with better tech than these "elite" players and honestly couldn't get past the inability to play swing, even at those tempos, from a 1st band player. The biggest inaccuracy that bothered me was the set up at the final performance with the "pro band". Can't imagine that level of sabotage for a group that you were "responsible" for, especially with the defined concern of what others thought. Really contradicted what they set up about the character.
On the whole though the movie didn't bother me that much considering I have seen similar bully techniques in "teaching" (70's & 80's), and it was a better attempt than DRUMLINE, I have to always explain, THIS IS NOT WHAT I DO (relating to competition drumlines), but agree could have used better accuracy and more reality.

Todd Bishop said...

There did used to be more of that approximate kind of thing-- I experienced plenty of it. But it was not this emotionally violent, wounding thing portrayed in the movie. Usually it wasn't personal at all, it was just tough instruction based on the music. When it was personal, it was more of a joke, and a challenge. The message was more you're ridiculous than you're a maggot, you're not even a human being. You might get mad about being on the receiving end of it, but you wouldn't run away and cry, or go try to get the teacher fired for being mean.

I think the movie epitomizes a lot of what's wrong on both sides of this thing-- the students take any tough instruction as being Whiplash-- just pointless sadism-- and the moron adults who think teachers aren't “tough enough” think teachers should be Whiplash.