You’ve heard the Green Day album ‘American Idiot’. High energy, jangly guitars, soaring vocals. Clear enough lyrics that you can sing along easily, and just grungy enough that you can feel slightly devil-may-care, anti-establishment while doing so.
I bring up this specific musical enterprise because we just saw the stage production based on it, American Idiot – the Musical. Watching it, I had a revelation about my husband and me. I discovered that we are now uncleji and auntyji.
But I get ahead of myself. You need a quick summary of the plot for context first.
Quick Summary of the Plot
Our Young Hero declares ‘What is this Materialistic American Life We Live’, borrows money from mummy to buy a bus ticket, takes his guitar, and goes off to the Big City. His friend, Mr Buff, joins the army to serve his country. His other friend, Mr Not So Buff, has gotten a girl pregnant so he’s stuck in the hometown and can’t Follow His Dream like the other two. (And let that be a lesson to you, by the way.)
In the Big City, Young Hero gets addicted to drugs, falls in love, gets dumped for being addicted to drugs, endures assorted travails, sells his guitar and buys a bus ticket back to his hometown. Mr Buff, wounded and weary from the battlefield, also returns home. Everyone hugs, accepts that life can be very unfair, and finds the strength to continue somehow. The End.
Basically, your average Oprah Winfrey-ised rock opera. If it comes touring anywhere near you, go watch it. It’s fun enough, and you know the music’s good.
Uncleji and Auntyji
So how did my husband and I go from Green Day-appreciating coolcats to uncleji and auntyji? Here’s how.
Young Hero and his friends are headbanging in the first part of the musical. They’re your archetypal rebellious youth, all leather and spiky hair, grumbling about the State of the Nation. Don’t want to be an American idiot, they sing. Don’t want a nation under the new media. Everyone’s pumped, the girls sitting in front of us are screaming “Woo!”, good cheer abounds. And then my husband turns to me and says, You know, all their problems in life would be solved with a little bit of education.
Or to put it another way,
Beta, you should study hard.
The plot proceeds and reaches the drug addiction stage. Here, the lighting designer of the show decided to depict the horrors of addiction by shining searing white spotlights at the audience. FLASH. FLASH. FL-FL-FLASH. Imagine one of the new smartphone camera flashes firing at your eyes for a few minutes straight. Now imagine six of them going at it simultaneously. Someone with photosensitive epilepsy would have been toast. Burnt toast. As it was, we just cursed the designer’s lack of subtlety, and squinted our way through that segment.
Later that night, I was on the Wikipedia page for the musical. It won a Tony Award for Best Lighting Design.
Uncleji and auntyji Strike 2.
The last half hour of the musical. Young Hero, dumped by his One True Love, is finally motivated to quit heroin. You start feeling proud of him as he suffers through the pangs of withdrawal, pulls himself together, and manages to find employment. I was totally rooting for him. You can do it, Young Hero, I cheered mentally. Triumph and show the world you’ll make it!
At which point he bursts into song…
Somebody get me out of here,
Anybody get me out of here.
I just want to be free.
…and quits the job.
What?!, I think. No, you jolly well do not want to be free. Do you know how hard it is for ex-addicts to find work? You can’t just quit like that!
But he does. He flings his files away, and starts singing that nobody likes him. They liked you enough to employ you, you chump.
So Strike 3 and you’re out, auntyji, for not accepting the importance of “I just want to be free”.
Moral of the Story
The moral of this story is very simple: I clearly seem to be on the path to auntyji-hood. Such is life.
But you know what’s more fun? If you agreed with any of the reactions my husband and I had…