This morning we took V. and a friend to SING! I’d heard iffy reviews but in fact it’s a brutal exposé of the sexism and racism of the music industry. SING! traces the careers of several women including a brilliant self-taught engineer (Rosita); a flamboyant gay man (Gunther); and a low-income POC immigrant (Johnny) who’s depicted in conventional anti-black racist imagery. As these spectacular singers develop and come into their own, they’re ridiculed, dismissed, sabotaged and exploited by the men in their lives and in the industry. An uncredited quartet of Japanese female pop stars round out the ensemble of disrespected musicians who nevertheless are asked to save the day.
What should be a tale of their triumphant rise to well-earned stardom instead becomes a tragedy in which their (unpaid!) performances fuel the usual tedious rise of a talentless white man (the obviously named “Moon”) who feels entitled to a producer’s career just because he really wants it and his father (!) worked hard for it. In one of the most haunting scenes of the film, Moon returns to the working-class job at which his father spent his whole life, visibly disgusted by the car-washing labor he claims to value and honor. The movie ends with Moon, the recipient of an enormous gift from a wealthy grand dame of the stage, desperately pulling the camera towards himself as the true stars are shoved to the side of the screen. Kudos to ILLUMINATION for this brave, honest depiction of oppression packaged as a kid’s movie.