A Guest Blog By Warren Bobrow
I saw Color Me Obsessed, The Replacements’ documentary, last night and really enjoyed it. It was a good-sized crowd in the theater, though probably with the narrowest age range you would ever see at a movie (from about age 45 – 55 ). First and foremost, Color Me Obsessed is a movie for fans only. Each story about a particularly awesome or atrocious gig was met with knowing nods and laughs from the crowd. I can’t imagine anyone who doesn’t know about the band enjoying it. And, with no music from them included in the film (more about that later), it doesn’t expose them to a new audience.
The film offers a great chronology of The Replacements and features lots of back-story on what was happening in the Minneapolis punk scene of the time. Interestingly, it has plenty of interviews with members of Husker Du (though not Bob Mould), but not with the other big TwinTone band of the time, Soul Asylum. It does offer profiles of the surviving band members with an emphasis on the late Bob Stinson, who Director Gorman Bechard sees as the core and spirit of the band.
All of the talking heads (including Tommy Ramone, Peter Zaremba, Jessie Malin, John Rzeznik and Steve Albini, among numerous others) are clearly hardcore fans. It’s interesting that almost none of them are upset that Stinson left/got fired from the band because of alcohol abuse, showing a lack of concern about his health, but others felt that it represented the band “selling out,” which pissed them off. This sentiment contrasts with how much affinity these fans/friends had with the members because they were “regular guys.” In some ways the film (inadvertently) shines a bright light on the indie scene. Everyone’s favorite record was the one they heard first (Let it Be being the exception for some of those there at the beginning), which tends to reveal how hardcore fans can have problems changing with the band.
The central question is whether The Replacements made records their fans loved because they were fuck ups (and we saw their zenith) or whether, had they not been fuck ups, they would have reached a wider audience. The answer is, of course, unknowable, but after the first few laughs of them doing something stupid to either just be assholes or sabotage their career, it just gets sad. Plenty of bands cleaned their act up and made great records. Why not them?
Director Gorman Bechard was present at the screening to talk about the film and why he decided to not use any of the band’s music, etc. As he explained it, he likened it to faith. Bechard proposed that if people can believe in god by only reading about him, then they could do the same about The Replacements – and he believed in The Replacements. I reasoned that there were licensing issues as well, though you would think that, since the movie was a love letter to the band, the record companies would have licensed the music without a problem. NBC letting them show the SNL performances; well, that’s probably a different story. One thing giving credence to his explanation is that the film used very few pictures of the band as well (and most of those were at the very end). I’m assuming those would be plentiful and inexpensive. The bottom line is that if you are a fan of the band you’ll like the movie.
Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars. To find a screening of Color Me Obsessed in your area visit This Link.
Visit Warren Bobrow’s website at All About Performance Dot Biz.