Jandoli Institute Executive Director Richard Lee has been selected to present a paper at an international music and cinema symposium organized by research groups at two French universities.
Lee will present his paper, How Terribly Normal to be 70, on Zoom on Feb. 5 at 6 p.m. Paris time (noon EST). The conference, “No one listens to Springsteen anymore. He’s history!”: Pop-rock Music and 2000s Cinema, is co-organized by the research groups CREW EA 4399 (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle) and CIRLEP EA4299 (Université Reims Champagne-Ardenne, France).
In his paper, Lee will focus on three films whose fictional protagonists are older musicians putting their lives and careers into context.
“Motion pictures such as LaBamba, The Buddy Holly Story, The Doors, Rocketman and Bohemian Rhapsody tell the stories of some of rock’n’roll’s most influential artists,” Lee said. “In these films and other rock’n’roll biopics, we see individuals growing into celebrity and coping with all that fame and fortune brings – the good and the bad.
“What we do not see are the issues entertainers confront when they grow old and struggle to remain successful and relevant in an industry whose biggest stars often are its youngest,” he said.
In his presentation, Lee will discuss the films Danny Collins, Crazy Heart and Ricki and the Flash.
Danny Collins: The title character is a superstar with riches earned during the classic rock era, but he misses what money cannot buy, including a reconciliation with a son he never met.
Crazy Heart: Otis “Bad” Blake is a has-been country music star who struggles with alcoholism and is angry that a musician he once mentored has become a success and left him behind.
Ricki and the Flash: Ricki Rendazzo abandoned her family to follow her dreams of becoming a rock star, but ended up playing in small bars and supports herself by working in a supermarket.
“My paper will explore how these films provide audiences with stronger connections to the world of rock stars than the popular biopics, which offer glimpses of lives beyond the reach of most audience members,” Lee said. “These three films show the human side of entertainers struggling with issues that confront the general public.”
Lee is a former music journalist who often writes about the intersection of entertainment and public policy.
The symposium will take place in five two-hour programs on successive Fridays, starting Jan. 29. Each session will begin at 6 p.m. Paris time. Click here for the symposium schedule.