Saturday, June 12, 2010

Elizabeth, don't try suicide.

Media Moment: Prozac Nation
Queen Related: Freddie Mercury poster

A scene in Prozac Nation caught me by surprise last night. About 10 minutes into the film, Christina Ricci’s character, Elizabeth Wurtzel (whose autobiography the movie is based on), is shown moving into her dorm with a new roommate, Ruby, played my Michelle Williams (pictured above).

As they talk, Elizabeth flips through a box of LPs (Springsteen’s Born to Run is clearly visible) and Ruby grabs a rolled-up poster from another box and walks out of camera range. The next scene shows her pinning the poster to the wall next to a doorway. The poster, as is clearly evident here, is a black and white shot of a dude in a white unitard with the word “Mercury” appearing down the right hand side.

Do doubt owing to Wurtzel's real-life career experiences with Rolling Stone magazine, there is a definite classic rock motif that runs through this film. Lou Reed, whom Wurtzel interviewed for RS back in 1981, actually makes a guest appearance at one point, although I’m not sure if his presence is a tie-in to America’s drug culture or to his anti-establishment reputation, which seems to echo Elizabeth’s struggles.

The film is set in 1986 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. At least I’m assuming it’s 1986 because there is a scene showing television news coverage broadcasting the Challenger shuttle explosion from that year. Apart from Live Aid in ’85, I didn’t think Queen had much presence in the U.S. at that time, unlike Springsteen who was still riding high on his Born in the USA album success from the year before. So Ruby’s poster preference is a bit of a mystery, in my opinion.

I don’t recall Springsteen having a nefarious reputation for drug usage—and Freddie’s persona in America in the mid-1980s certainly didn’t hinge on drug usage—so I’m curious as to what part rock music plays in the film’s overall message. I guess I’ll have to watch it again.