Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Breaking Point

It is currently 1:57 a.m, and I just finished watching the movie Whiplash. It was one of the best movies that I have ever seen.

This is about to be a major spoiler alert, so if you feel like you would watch this movie in the future, I advise you to stop reading. However, if you have seen the movie or don't care if it is spoiled, please continue.

Whiplash is about a very talented drummer named Andrew who is enrolled at Schaffer Conservatory, a fictional school based off a Juliard or Berkley. Andrew's instructor is the abusive and sadistic Terrence Fletcher, who believes that the two worst words in the English language are "good job." Fletcher degrades Andrew in front of his peers, barraging him with profanity and physically abusing him. Initially, Andrew's goal is to become the very best- he will stop at nothing to earn each core drum part, especially to the double time song, Whiplash. When Andrew is late to a concert one day after being in a car accident, Fletcher demands that he still perform. Through swollen eyes and cracked fingers, Andrew attempts to play Whiplash. But he makes one mistake.  And Fletcher dismisses Andrew from Schaffer. Andrew's mental sanity has been ripped apart, and he quits drumming, trying to forget the pain he has endured under Fletcher's furry. Word gets around that one of Fletcher's trumpet players committed suicide, and Andrew reports Fletcher's inhumane teaching methods, getting him fired from Schaffer. However, a month later, Fletcher and Andrew run into each other at a jazz nightclub. Fletcher is conducting a jazz ensemble and asks Andrew to be his drummer for one concert. Andrew agrees, somewhat eager to resume playing the instrument that he committed his existence to. Andrew goes on stage the night of the concert to find that Fletcher has purposefully given him the wrong sheet music, hoping he will fail in front of thousands. Andrew disregards the entire song and begins a ten minute solo, unveiling his frustrated emotions in one of the most climactic endings I have ever experienced. The film ends with the two making eye contact. They both know that Andrew has become one of the best young drummers in the world, however he had to undergo the hell that Fletcher put him through to get there.

The movie forced me to ask this question- when does pushing someone's limits cross a line? The story of Andrew and Fletcher is obviously displayed in the extremes- a student would have spoken up well before Fletcher had the chance to make a boy commit suicide. Director Daimen Chazelle leaves the audience with the uneasy feeling that Fletcher's actions were justified. In my opinion, Fletcher deserved no pride after Andrew's inner talent was uncaged. Because the talent was forced out. In a very delusional manner. It isn't worth it to teach a protégé when you taught one who is six feet under. My question for you is this- How far are you willing to go before reaching your breaking point, and is it even smart to make it that far?

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