Tuesday, 2 August 2022

What I learnt from Elvis

Been quite sometime since I did one of these. and this will be quite short. However, we went to Elvis on the weekend, and while I'm not an Elvis fan, I am a Baz fan and it's a great film. I learnt quite a lot and was engaged the whole time (and it's long, so that's commendable). 


 1. One thing I did learn is Australians can be appallingly rude and selfish. One person was very sick and coughed the whole time - big hacking coughs, constantly. I was in a mask but I'm guessing they weren't so they have risked infecting everyone with whatever they have. Don't be that guy. It makes you a total jerk.

2. Tom Parker has a line early on 'It doesn't matter how many dumb things you do, as long as you do one good thing'. Now while that's not the best advice, I do think it's a good frame for your failures. If you keep trying success might erase all the times you failed.

3. Elvis and Segregation. It is clear in the movie, and with a little googling afterwards, that it was not so much the sexiness that was the problem, but that Elvis was a risk to push the de-segregation and civil rights movement forward and 'dismantle the fabric of society'. To say that, however, would not be as persuasive as to wind up the ire of the ultra conservative and make it about morals. Interesting we did the same thing with same sex marriage. People would argue that they weren't homophobic but Same Sex Marriage would somehow ruin their marriage or take away something from marriage, when really it had no relevance or impact on their marriage at all (the daft argument 'we have no issue with you people, you can still have a thing, just not our thing'. Segregation, much?). When people argue against something, we need to make sure the thing they're talking about is actually the real thing they have issue with. The author of Maus discussed this at the Sydney Writers Festival - the school boards were arguing that it wasn't the Holocaust they had issue with, it wasn't antisemitism, it was the naked lady picture that made them need to ban the book for. He, like me, couldn't remember a naked lady and had to go looking for it. It's his dead mother. Hardly a saucy image at all. In the Elvis film, I would have liked them to really hammer that home, as I think a lot of people fall for that kind of manipulation, and we need to be more aware of it when it happens, to not be duped in the same way.

4. Elvis wore a lot of pink, and eye make up. It didn't seem to really raise eyebrows. I googled and Priscilla said that he copied the eye make up from Tony Curtis and it wasn't that unusual for men to wear some eye make up at the time. Which I found odd, as I'd never heard of this. So if men could merrily get around in pink and eye make up in the 50's, when did we become so gendered on these issues? It did make me think of the Kanye quote: “Society has put up so many boundaries, so many limitations on what’s right and wrong that it’s almost impossible to get a pure thought out. It’s like a little kid, a little boy, looking at colors, and no one told him what colors are good, before somebody tells you you shouldn’t like pink because that’s for girls, or you’d instantly become a gay two-year-old. Why would anyone pick blue over pink? Pink is obviously a better color. Everyone’s born confident, and everything’s taken away from you”. 

5. There is a line by Elvis's mother, when he is coming under the ire of the powers that be "God put that in you, how can it be bad?" She's referring to the way he sings and dances, his talent. I did think for all those young kids, scared to be who they are in our weirdly homophobic society (for those OS there's been the most ridiculous carry on over a football jersey - it's too embarrassing to go into). But maybe that's what those kids need to be reminded of. The thing that makes you different often becomes your strength later in life.

Lastly, but I'm not making it 6. because that would muck up my symmetry. While I am not a big Elvis fan, I am a huge Baz fan. He can make great movies. I expected the visuals to be enough to entertainment but I was surprised at how interesting he made it, how intellectually thought provoking it was. Also how relevant it was in reflecting the dynamics still in action today. I learnt a lot, I needed to google a lot after the fact but I was also entertained. I liked how he had enough other music (modern takes on Elvis style songs) for the non fan to still enjoy it.

So two thumbs up from me. Worth checking out even if you can't stand Elvis music. But take a mask incase there are jerks in the audience, because it's a long time to be sucking in other people's germs.

Not in the movie, but this is my favourite Elvis song (and the most under-rated in my opinion).

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  1. Great review of the movie. We saw it a week ago and really enjoyed it too. You had a lot of powerful insights that made me reflect more deeply on it. I agree with you completely, too, on how gendered we are. Who's to say eye shadow is only for females? Males can have all of my eye shadow that they want. :)

    1. It's kind of weird that was sort of done back then and yet now we hear nothing about it. I kind of thought it was an 80's thing. Which I guess is another lesson - our view of history is tainted by what we know and what we don't know...

  2. I am looking forward to seeing this movie#dreamteam