Slate Spoiler Specials: Blinded by the Light

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S1: Charlotte Great. Hey Bob. I. Am.

S2: What’s in the box. Yo.

S3: Yo yo yo yo.

S4: Hello and welcome to another slight spoiler special. I am Sam Adams the culture editor here at Slate. And today we are spoiling the movie blinded by the light blinded by the light is the story of Javert the British born son of Pakistani immigrants who becomes obsessed with the music of Bruce Springsteen. It’s the 1980s the height of Thatcherism. The resurgence of the racist National Front and the golden age of synth pop all of which make Springsteen deeply unfashionable but Javid an aspiring writer who bristles at the future laid out for him by his immigrant father finds that Springsteen stories of dead end life and young male rebellion speak to him. And that sets him apart with both his family and his peers based on a true story. The movie is co-written and directed by a Bend It Like Beckham surrender Chadha and it’s in theaters now. Joining me to spoil blinded by the light are Andrew Kang a staff writer at Slate and this Hirsch power a copy editor at Slate and go Hello hello hello hello hello. All right so let us start in traditional fashion by saying what we thought and what we recommend this movie. Natasha you wanna go first.

S5: Yeah sure. So I too was kind of going into this expecting more of the classic grand each other fare something more along the lines of going to like become more like a bride and prejudice. I was definitely surprised a little bit by how it turned out although it was very moving a lot of parts. It was a very smart look at the immigrant experience a specific moment in time. Civic point. But I did think other times the musical elements also turned a little corny when you say you were expecting the traditional grander Chadha fare.

S6: Can you talk a little bit more about that.

S7: Yeah it’s the East-West dynamic which I think she’s pretty much always done. The I’m a person living in a more Western culture.

S8: I am born into the society I’m not an immigrant like my parents I’m trying to find something new. And so and it definitely was something along those lines but it was actually a lot darker I thought than some of our earlier stuff because you know the scenes with the National Front the the prevalence of the skinheads the racist movement there it was there’s nothing less of feelgood in some parts but I thought that made it more effective and good what did you think.

S6: I also want to be running it a little bit because I was also expecting it to be something pretty much like we had seen before.

S9: And I think it that’s something really different. And it’s like a third act that I’m sure we will discuss at length. One thing I did find interesting was that I listened to a podcast interview with Kim Masters on a podcast called The Business which it’s about the entertainment industry and essentially grinder Chopra talked about how she wasn’t really sure that she was going to make this movie because she thought it was too similar to stuff she had done previously. And the reason why she felt motivated to do it was that Brexit happened and after Brexit happened she really felt compelled to take a stand with a movie and this seemed like a really good movie with which to do that. And I think that that element of the movie was interesting because it was touched that darker than everyone then I think a lot of people were expecting.

S4: Yeah I think we’ll talk about some of that when we get to the ending but it is definitely like not a movie that I went where expected. I think we share all of us the experience of going into this movie kind of dreading it a little bit like expecting I was expecting kind of something like sort of you know straightforward and inspirational and you young man you know finds himself listening to Bruce Springsteen songs. Was this just like I kind of roll my eyes like even just saying that like made up now like he’s going to listen to Born to Run and then he’s gonna run and it kind of is that movie for you know an hour and change or something like that and then it goes like some more like interesting places towards the end and that was when I really started to you know I guess I became a lot more interested in it. I’m still not sure like that. It’s a pretty sort of hard left. It takes the end and I’m not sure it totally lands but I think it I mean it definitely makes it like a much more interesting movie and I think it does sort of you know lean into finally into some of the complexities particularly of Springsteen’s kind of later work and the stuff he’s he’s set about it and the stuff he said about his earlier work more and more recently which is sort of a good time to ask in a similar spirit kind of where you came into this like with regard to Springsteen’s music like as a fan as a doubter someone who’s just like going to like explode if they hear thunder road one more time. Where do you stand on Bruce.

S6: I am not a pop culture consort and so I was at the level of oh I didn’t know that’s what the Springsteen thought it was like one of the five most famous songs. I will say that so much of the movie captures like this like really aggressive 80s ugliness that I think a lot of people associate with things like hair rock. And so it was very interesting. I mean it’s sort of the point for all of the guitar and the like brooding white guy music to go along with the visuals that we saw on screen that we generally associate more with pop because it’s implied that’s sort of where British culture in this pocket of England has already moved on to. But I wish I could say it like the music with more interesting to me. I think. I mean it’s sort of like it is what it is. But I also always believe job adds enthusiasm for the music.

S4: Yeah just what about you or you. Where do you stand on.

S7: Bruce I’m pretty sure of Springsteen fan and I was not expecting like you know any deep cuts or any nerd them like they I was expecting to hear you know most of the songs that usually hear born or run hungry are all the which you did but something I wondered did you guys get the sense that this movie was kind of rankest because you know there’s a part where they’re talking about you know this is a country of sense you know no one cares about Bruce anymore in the Bruce still had a very productive career on that time in the 80s I’m pretty sure I think tunnel lovers around the time yeah I mean I think it’s a little they may I guess to use a British prism override the pudding a little bit.

S4: But I mean I think that you know if you’re talking about like small town you know not particularly hip high school but desperately wanting to be hip high school students in Britain in the 80s like I think it’s there. I mean there’s one point where they have like a college radio station playing Tiffany which are like Debbie Gibson and I’m just like OK. Like I mean would even if I feel like no college radio station would ever play anything like that. I don’t like even in England. But I mean I think the dominance of synth music like that I mean there was definitely a sense that like guitars were dead that they sort of belonged to you know punk and they had sort of moved past that and that was much more dominated by synth music at the time and I mean and the interesting thing about the movie is that actually the movie is kind of like that too. I mean I think it’s probably you know 20 minutes half an hour before we hear a guitar and I mean you get a lot of cutting crew and you know men without hats and stuff like that and the first song that’s mentioned in it but I don’t think we hear but there’s an opening voiceover Where Javid says his favorite song is baggy trousers by madness much like us you know sort of a British bit of sky song. So there is a lot more kind of you know New Wave and kind of new romantic stuff at the beginning which I think does maybe sort of give a little bit of context for people who didn’t live through that era in the first place. Then I agree with you like it does really capture just the kind of like you know dingy ness of the 80s I mean it looked like the fact that you know the kids are I mean they’re you know they’re wearing sort of like you know what’s really funky hats and like that you know blazers and they have their hair up and it’s kind of similar like you know a flock of seagulls thing but it’s really it’s like it’s they’re not doing it very well. They don’t look like they like somebody you just watch a bunch of music videos and then some of them like these are sort of like you know crappy small town kids attempt it like mimicking like whatever they’re seeing in the enemy that week or whatever. So that felt very like true to life to me that part of it it is sort of as someone who lived through them and that does not have a tremendous amount of fondness for the 1980s as a result of that it did resemble the 1980s that I remember and I’m glad we’re no longer living in.

S9: There is a scene where a lot of that sense adoration is personified by Matt was sort of like childhood best friend that he is slowly becoming less and less good friends with. And there is a moment where Javad give him crap for loving and felt much and then toward the end of the movie job it sort of says something along the lines of like oh Bruce it’s really meaningful to me.

S6: But obviously the music is really meaningful to you too. I’m sorry for being such an asshole about like how much better Bruce’s then I don’t know a flock of seagulls or whatever. Which I thought was like a very good thing. It’s sort of like a gesture and sort of like a full turn on job it’s part but I’m glad that the movie wasn’t completely unaware of its own rock.

S4: Ryan I mean it’s sort of the scene that’s set up there is Javad and his family they are that they I mean they say the only Pakistani family and I think from what we see the only kind of non-white family in on their they’re street in in Luton which is kind of an industrial town in England. I have. It’s also the subject of show David kill show called we’re only alive for a short amount of time which I saw a few months ago at the Public Theater and there’s a whole song in there about like what a shithole Luton is. So very influenced by that. In watching this movie. But yeah his father is you know very sort of classically hardworking. He and his wife immigrated from Karachi and have set up life here his father has been working in the Vauxhall Motor Plant in Luton for 16 years it’s kind of built the life for them but is a very kind of strict demand sort of absolute obedience from his children and for Jared’s father you know his insistence that the proof of that he’s actually kind of the reminders is not assisting that he grow up to be a doctor. He could also grow up to be a lawyer or a real estate agent or an engineer so that you know he has this choice of like five careers instead of one but Javad and this is Javad wants to be a writer. He writes poems mostly he keeps a diary. He’s been attempting to write lyrics for his friend Mat’s synth pop band. But because Matt is has a girlfriend and Javid has apparently never had one. He says attempts to write love songs for them come off pretty flat and uninformed. He mostly wants to write sort of political songs about how fascists are bad and which is not the kind of thing that Matt wants to be singing well like standing in front of a Roland or a mug. So it’s a job it is surrounded by by synth pop and it’s not really doing it for him although he doesn’t really know what else he wants but he makes a discovery. When he goes off to sixth form which is kind of like the British equivalent of sort of the last four years of high school on his first day at school Javid runs into groups whose a sixth student also kind of a new face and he is listening to something very intently in his Walkman because this is again the 1980s and does not know what it is. So David Asman Richard said said cryptically the boss Jeff doesn’t know what that means and only tells him what the boss of us all. But later on they kind of you know re encounter each other in the lunch room and Javid ask for an explanation. And that’s when groups kind of hands him to cassettes one of Born in the USA and darkness on the edge of town and says to him to guard them with his life so Java takes them home and has kind of his big epiphany the one that we’ve been we know from the title of the movie is coming eventually and just starts listening to the music and really finds that he’s kind of swept away it’s dancing and dark and then promise land which is the sun comes back several times in the movie and has that we kind of find more and more meaning at it. But he you know he starts kind of listening at his desk in his room and the words from the songs are kind of appearing on screen behind him and then he’s like you know there’s a big like windstorm running outside and there’s like a little tornado in his you know up by the curb and so he’s kind of opens his window and is like just staring out into the darkness and feeling the wind blow on him and then his sister comes in is like what are you doing. Big weirdo answer that he runs outside. I think it’s about even like lose the Walkman. So we just kind of like you know running outside like you know playing air guitar doing sort of this big like kind of musical gestures and the lyrics are kind of growing larger and larger and they’re being projected on the side of of buildings and you know it’s all this stuff about you know wanting to prove that you’re a man and kind of defining yourself and be feeling trapped in your small town life and that really you know and that has a lot so much to do with Springsteen’s relationship to where he grew up and his dad and got very much by extension like Java’s relationship to Luton and his father and that’s like so much of the movie turns on that you know he feels that this need to get out partly because he’s kind of living in this you know cul de sac that is frequented by it like skinhead to see want to like spit in his face and beat the shit out of him but also cause you know his dad kind of won’t give him the freedom to. He has to kind of like sneak off and take a writing class in school because if his dad found out he’d be upset with him. So you know he just feels kind of constrained in every way and Springsteen is kind of his window into another world I think.

S10: I mean I’m glad you brought up that because I think the father son relationship in this movie is really like the core of the movie. And I think in a lot of ways the dad is really this very like I think on the one hand it’s like almost caricature ish figure where he is so overbearing and also the dad is like very much himself. And but I think like.

S11: On the other hand as the movie goes along you get a better sense of why dad is so fervent in his own belief and so fervent in his idea that like job it has to succeed in a very particular way because if he doesn’t succeed in these very particular way and then there is a great chance that none of the white people around him will give him a chance. And I think that we sort of see this as the movie goes along and the father who has as Sam mentioned worked for 16 years at the factory is very summarily laid off and it doesn’t really matter what sort of sacrifices he’s made for the company. It’s just that he’s like one more disposable source of labor. Right. And so you do get the sense that the father is sort of preparing his son to succeed and because he doesn’t think that like it’s and then we’ll be able to succeed in ways that like other people in society will be able to succeed.

S4: Yeah and there’s kind of a recurring conversation between them which feels timeless but also particularly inflected by Brexit about whether or not Javid is British. You know his father says you’re not British you’ll never be British like Don’t you know they’ll never accept you. And so you can sort of keep your head down and do your work and be successful like that way. But you’re not really part of this country. And that is probably not a line that would have been prominent as prominently featured in the film if it had made you know like four or five years ago.

S12: What did you think of the dad the dad figures was a figure that I feel is very sort of common in a lot of these you know useless dialogues like he’s the he’s the man who considers himself the man of the House and once he’s like laid off from his job a you know he feels was very like emasculated because of a he like lashes out at the moms like work harder to support the family less Java to you know get an actual job so that you can actually like help out those I’m going to take your money you know so on that you know the family can be supported and there are some touches in there obviously is a Pakistani family not quite the same as my experience but there were touches in here that I found like very relatable like at least with other Indian Pakistani dads I’ve known where there’s like that need for the money to go toward the daughter’s wedding like that’s such an important part of these cultures that every single cent you see poured into this. And the family needs to selflessly work toward that because it needs to be a big occasion to be a very important thing or that scene where the dad is also talking to his wife saying you know I feel like I’ve failed you all. Even though it’s obviously not necessarily his fault it’s just a very Thatcherite Britain just completely austere times. So those last two parts I mentioned kind of like deep in him in ways that made him more than just the typical son. You’re not allowed to do this. You know let’s do that even though that is what he is for a large part of the film right.

S4: I mean one thing I kept thinking about and kind of you know Ed being uneasy with world you know a little frustrated by during the film was that was the way this relationship with the father is being depicted which is you know rhymes as you say with a lot of these sort of like East-West like sort of you know first second generation immigrant dramas that also with you know the Springsteen songs that are laid over because this only the movie set in you know like 80 45. So obviously we’re only dealing with you know the first 10 years of Springsteen albums or so. And so it is all these songs about like rebellion and getting out and you know getting away from you know particularly your dad and the people you know and sort of getting away from that life. And it really I kept thinking about the way Springsteen has talked about his dad since you know particularly he talked the way he talked about him in his other Springsteen and Broadway show which I saw on and there’s a film on Netflix now and he he talks a lot in that about not exactly kind of regretting the stance he took in those early songs but just how you know as he as Springsteen has gotten older and become a father and after his you know his dad died he felt like you know so much of that stuff came out of this profound like admiration for his his father that he could never you know quite make him see and one of the things he says he kind of wished he would’ve said to his dad is you know Springsteen is this classic embodiment of the kind of working class hero. But as he as he points out on the show he’s actually he never worked like a regular job a day in his life you know. You know he never worked in a factory. He never did any of that stuff. So that that character in his songs is really the one he kind of played onstage to a certain extent is kind of his idealized version of his father you know and is really that that profound investment and admiration of that kind of working class striver you know laying and who laid the groundwork for a son to become an artist is so much that informs the music. And I just kept wondering if the movie was going to come to terms with that part of it. I mean it’s Springsteen wise it’s anachronistic. But I mean I think it’s you kind of have to see. And then also just this is just a song about like you know a young man getting away from his parents and getting out and going off to be an artist like that seems would have seemed kind of unsatisfying. And I don’t know. Extremely American among among other things.

S12: I think it kind of guts the stage like a little bit near the end although I kind of wish it had developed more. The scene where edge of it is like you know reading his poem and you see as his death in the family finally standing at the back and then Java after seeing that it become so emotionally it kind of comes up with his own thing about my dad is you. He sacrificed so much for my family I admire him so much for that. You know I respect him for that despite all this you know rebellion and stuff that I’ve been doing for myself to express myself as well. So I think that I’d like an alternate form forms him like you know coming both coming to terms of like his dad’s sacrifice and you know him like realizing the dream that his dad wanted for him. But just a different way. And his dad coming to terms with that as well.

S13: I think the other really interesting thing about the dad although this also isn’t super developed in the movie is that the dad that really cares about the Pakistani community in that area where he goes to a lot of different people’s homes and he makes sure that they’re OK. And he spends so much time doing this that the family thought represents him. And I think that the dad sort of tries to plays off his generosity. There’s like a really funny line early in the movie where they go to another Pakistani family’s house nearby and the two dads are sort of joking about how like oh like this neighborhood used to be good and then all of these like Pakistani families live now it’s terrible what they think it’s like a very good joke in terms of their doped up hurting audience expectations but also it gives you like a sense of the fact that like the dad really wants to. Make sure that even though he’s joking around about the influx of Pakistani families like in the area he wants to make sure that they’re taking care of he wants to keep track of how the local mosque is doing which happens to be under threat of that bombing by local skinheads. And so at some point job that sort of asks him like why are you spending all this time away from the family and you’re not even getting any money for it. And the dad gets really offended and said something like I would to expect that I would take money for like doing what I’m supposed to be doing. And I thought that was also like another really good way of humanizing the dad.

S4: Yeah I mean the movie is really it’s I think like you know bend it like Beckham certainly does this I mean it’s it’s very like kind of heavily trippy in places. I mean you know it is this is a movie where you know the Javits like you know first day at school he sits down and there’s his English teacher you know writing the words like why are you here on on the blackboard and then she starts talking about their curriculum for this and they’re going to sort of read stuff by you know universal voices like Shakespeare and Virginia Woolf and it’s like Universal wink wink you know. So it’s definitely not shy about scenes like that but then it does have a way you know this is a movie where there’s a sequence where he and riffs are running around like singing Born to Run in this kind of border line like you know musical theater sequence where they don’t quite they’re they’re like kind of singing you could sort of hear them but like the real song is playing underneath them and they got to the line tramps like us and he literally like points at a hobo on the street and it’s like he like OK.

S14: Like that’s that’s the movie you’re watchin like is that tramps like him.

S15: But but I think that that kind of cheese ball. CORNISH This is like that’s also like if you’re gonna love Bruce Springsteen’s music like you have to embrace some of that as well. You know it’s a lot of it is like kind of ridiculous and over the top and a lot of it is kind of like musical theater for straight white guys but I mean it’s like you just gotta lean into that access and over-the-top ness of it and embrace that as well if you’re going to kind of get anything out of the songs.

S7: Yeah that’s why I found the song choice here so interesting as well because it really is just like some of Springsteen’s biggest most bombastic songs like you know is not Nebraska right of love. So you know it’s it’s all like Born to Run Like you say you know it’s it’s hungry heart. This promised land is literally EVERYTHING THAT’S JUST LIKE THE BIGGEST vision of Springsteen ism as it were. That it can be right. So that lends itself very well to that sort of thing obviously she really wants a play that up rather than directing this. But that also made me wonder sometimes how aware this film was whether it wanted to be like a musical or not.

S16: Because they were just like these sequences in between. But it didn’t feel very like consistent to me. You know I mean like the musical sequences. There’s that scene where there’s jiving and groups or at the diner with like the skinheads and they just start like screaming the lyrics the bad lands at them I’m thinking I think it’s bad.

S7: Yeah I think the. Yeah. And then they start walking out and it starts playing. I’m like Oh oh that’s how we’re gonna see against the.

S4: There are a lot of sequences like that. The Born to Run one is a really like interesting one for me. That kind of starts when he is that kind of like an outdoor market. He’s taken a kind of a part time job selling clothes for Matt’s dad who’s played by Rob ride and that is he and he’s sort of like the old like rock dude in the movie like he is when when Jarvis he’s into he’s into Bruce Springsteen and everyone else is like Oh really. Like nobody cares about Springsteen anymore math that is like Oh all right. Yeah. So he starts in Javert like puts on his Walkman just to like Occupy him while he’s doing sucks but then he starts singing and then rob Bryden joins in and then they’re both kind of singing and like pointing at people and they’re sort of like singing to people around but then people start dancing and then there’s like a whole there. Then the kids really kind of running through the streets and there’s like a whole like had a street crew like kind of break dancing and time to the song and it that it’s you know it becomes like more of sort of a full musical sequence. But that was like the moment when Rob Bryden joins it and singing with them like that for me was like one of the most moving moments in the movie just because it’s it’s just about like I read so I mean again like so corny but just like the power of music like you know when groups like Henson the tapes and it’s like are these with your life like it’s such a it’s so over the top. But I so clearly remember like being a teenager and being so invested in not just like music but you know what at the time were these very like limited objects you know that it’s like you possessed the tape of this music you can listen to it and if someone else wanted to listen to it they had to like you know borrow the tape or copy it or something and just the kind of specialness of just having access to it it’s so easy to like take for granted you know it’s hard.

S17: Well I’m very young Yeah I got a musical aspect of it.

S18: I I think I overall liked the fact that it was not really it was very much not a jukebox musical right.

S6: Like you don’t really have the characters singing the song on their own you hear Bruce a lot more than you hear anybody else. And I like that there were sort of these like gestures toward a musical without actually going full musical and I think that as a person who is not particularly invested in Springsteen’s music if the movie had slowed down in order to like make space for like a whole three minute rendition or something I think on the one hand it would have flowed out the movie considerably and it’s already like a pretty long ish movie and I think number two if you sort of had like that polished bubbly aspect of a musical I don’t think it would have really worked with sort of this gritty shitty small town where everyone kind of sucks right. Those two things would not have let together. And so I sort of like that it was sort of willfully half assed musical right.

S14: I mean there’s one point I think it’s the first time like the first time drivers listen to dancing in the dark like he just he starts listen to the song and then he presses stop and fast forwards just as it’s just like they can condense the song like a little bit but it’s like who stops a song like they’re supposedly having this transcendent experience like this said the first time they’re listening to it. Fast forward. He’s like oh maybe there’s a better line. Ten seconds to say something. I was like so bizarre. And I think it’s just there to like condense the number a little bit so that it’s not like while the what music for for 45 minutes.

S6: And I think that’s 19 Bruce Springsteen songs here. So yeah there’s something like Walt’s like Bruce.

S4: Yeah I think he’s like Born to Run the only one you hear all the way through. Like there’s only like one or two of the you actually get all I’ve been in a lot of the others it’s just like you know a couple of lines or a couple of minutes.

S7: Yeah I think Born to Run is only the full sequence that even features like the instrumental transitions and also like the little boy did do the one two three four. Yeah. Is it a little jump. So yeah I think you’re right about that. It’s mostly like snippets of the other one.

S16: Speaking of what did you guys think of the use of the lyrics just like being read out in the lake you could see the lyrics as they were being heard by Java in real time projected on the screen.

S19: I did not love it. I thought it was very corny.

S6: That was my least favorite aspect of the movie. Like it’s already such a worshipful movie and that’s sort of like script troll treatment that the movie gave Bruce Springsteen’s lyrics by putting hits the worth up on the screen and just having the lead actor like close his eyes and feel as though it was just like one smidge too far right a minute and I just generally believe that that is like a cruel thing to do to rock lyrics especially like they’re not really meant to be.

S15: You know it’s like there there’s a couple people like you know like Lou Reed and Patti Smith of you know people start to like issue these like you know books of collected lyrics as if they’re poetry and it’s like No they’re not poetry like they’re actually bad poetry and poetry would also make bad lyrics like they just serve different functions and you know like like I was go back to like how does it feel the Bob Dylan line like that. I mean that’s an incredible moment in song and that’s not like a good sentence. You know it’s like Oh what an amazing line of poetry. It’s like the the point of it is that it’s not poetry. The point is like you need music and the singers you know performance and everything else to give it life you know. So if the words were complete on the page you wouldn’t need a song.

S7: Yeah it’s true. It’s not like he is not like he’s in love with Springsteen the poet he’s in love with Springsteen. Like the full fledged artist the image the the rocker and so on.

S4: Right. I mean. But I mean the other characters are a writer and I mean that is you know movies love writers because they tend to be written by writers. Yeah.

S15: Writing is also like one of the most like boring like uninteresting things to film. You always end up with that kind of you know dilemma like you can’t make a movie about Virginia Woolf and just so show her like you know sitting in a room like you know scribbling on paper for like an hour and a half. So you’ve kind of come up with other things to enliven that which in this case is pointing it bums.

S20: I will also say that with regard to Springsteen he got a lot of beauty shots in this because there’s like a point where like a bunch of posters from the Mall have been like thrown away I think by like a music store or something HMV. Right. Yeah. And so he picks them up and take them to his room and has the Fleck shrine to Springsteen and then of course he does like the requisite cutting off the sleeves off of flannel and like wearing denim jacket. And yeah I think I never realized how beautiful Bruce Springsteen is. And you really get that in this movie so that’s good.

S21: I mean. They didn’t like put his ass on the cover of Born to Run for no reason born in the essay sorry dear. I mean to get excited now. So love is America’s. We all know. Exactly. Yeah.

S6: So I will say as much as I like a lot of the parent child tensions in the movie. Oh a lot of them. I wouldn’t necessarily call it like filler exactly but like it did feel really overstuffed. One of its goals that you sort of set out for himself at the beginning of the movie is that he’s going to kiss a girl and like that whole romance that’s like pretty when I think he takes up what it’s like or really liberal activist girl and who is like also in English class. And I think like the only thing I really got out of that whole relationship is like a scene where he goes to dinner at her parents house and her parents sort of accuse.

S20: Her at the dinner table of dating people who are going to be like the most controversial picks or like the most provocative picks.

S13: And then either jab it or probably more like the girl is sort of like what do you think is so controversial about Javad. And then the parents can’t really say anything so they don’t like that forming silently in their seats like that was a really good scene.

S14: Right because other than the fact that he is Pakistani I mean he is the most like kind of boring like a guy you can imagine.

S7: And he does like his girlfriend is like a very distinctive style like with her hair and what she wears and so on you know very like sort of punk radicals so she keeps saying she’s like antifascist and so on and Javad is like you know other than his occasional Springsteen cosplay is mostly pretty like straight laced and his wear and demeanor and everything else which is kind of funny to me. But yeah I also agree with you in good I did not find the relationship super compelling especially when they have like their little break. I didn’t feel anything bad about it.

S20: Yeah. And then I think there’s like a whole storyline with the best friend where job is sort of like increasingly a dick to his best friend his like white friend that he grew up with. And I think like a certain point where the white friends points out that he has saved Javert from the skinheads or racist taunts on the playground or whatever for their whole lives. That was OK.

S6: But I think the only really interesting thing about the best friend in the new age group is that he is played by Tom and Baraka and Ed Trudeau has that same hapless quality to him. So a lot of this other stuff is in the movie and to fight. Not really need to be there. There’s the whole other. Thing with the English teacher who is like the type of like magical English teacher to take like a school assignment and like enter it behind the scenes back into like an essay contest and like wow the essay he wins the essay contest and then like the reward is like a trip to New Jersey. Ahead and go on a Springfield pilgrimage essentially to like ruthless childhood home and like a bar that like Bruce went to one time and a lot of the stuff doesn’t really need to be there. It’s like very cute.

S14: And it also feels a very indistinct I mean there’s this stuff there’s this stuff about their like neighbor to who is this kind of elderly white man who we see there’s a bunch of sort of significant shots of him staring you know at at Java and it’s sort of like is he like is he in other races like as he was at that these people have moved in next door and then and then there’s this thing where you find that no actually he fought in World War 2 and he thinks fascists are bad.

S19: So he’s very supportive of Java like career and writing ambition and his anti National Front.

S20: Yeah it’s just like he said I think of all of the various subplots. The one I like the most is the like very tiny one where a job it has a occasionally uneasy relationship with his sister. He has I think two sisters and it’s one who is getting married who is older and then one I think who is younger who is sort of the one who is like you’re crazy. And essentially he ends up owing her a favor.

S6: They go to something but I have never heard of called a date timer which is basically like a daytime club where both of them skip school and they go out dancing and he sees his sister and like a completely brand new light because she is just like dressed like this does he call her like what is it say like you look like the Pakistani Madonna or something like that like she’s got like a sequined top and that kind of you know teased up hair and whatever and I did find it interesting that that nightclub sequence is the one sequence where they were playing like any sort of like Bhangra style music.

S7: That was like the one time where like the music of where he come from is like kind of representative.

S12: So it’s kind of nice that they let that also have its moment and you know a movie that’s otherwise so saturated with Bruce right mm I think you hear like in his the cassette deck in his dad’s car.

S4: Like for like three seconds and I had to look in the credits of friends but they did get air rock’n’roll and he’s like the most famous Bollywood composer to do a new song for the film. But I think you have to like wait till the end credits after the Bruce song has finished playing to hear that. So that feels like a little a little more gestural than sort of actually woven into the fabric of it. Yeah but it’s nice.

S6: You know he’s got his on the soundtrack I’m sure he’s gonna get a cut that’s like aggressively like father son movie it was sort of nice to be like Oh right.

S4: Like also these like women that exist in the daytime or scene is like one of those things that it’s like if a lot of the stuff in this movie you’ve seen before only you know mostly but like a white lead protagonists battle this out. All this stuff about him like rock and roll saved the soul and inspired him to break with his dad whatever and then the daytime routine is like Oh I’ve not actually seen this in a movie ever.

S18: Yeah let’s make that movie.

S4: So there is a lot of Java that you know finally gets his big break. He gets kind of an internship at the local paper. Unpaid.

S14: Yes. Yeah. Yeah. It’s the 80s. He does that. Yeah yeah yeah exactly.

S15: He does better to get his first byline because this the reporter kind of asks around it’s like you’re Muslim right. Do you speak Urdu. I need somebody to go down to like the local mosque and like you know translate it for me. So he gets a byline that he gets.

S18: Can we unpack that scene a little bit.

S21: Yeah. Yeah sure. Yeah.

S18: There’s like a bunch of scenes where someone asks Javad something and I think something that the movie does very well it’s capture the two seconds where it’s usually a white person will ask a personal question and then you have to sort of anticipate that something that might suddenly be coming down the line. But also you can’t like get bent out of shape about it because it might not be anything bad. And so like that on the one hand it’s sort of a classic movie move right like someone asks the question and then there’s like the fence about like what’s going to happen. But I think on the other hand it’s also like this very like racialized experience someone asking you like are you Muslim. And then like in like those three beats wondering what it’s going to come next. And I think it captures that really well. And I think the other thing that very tiny scene captures really well is this idea that hey maybe there should be more diversity within newsrooms because then you can get more news than you might otherwise.

S4: Right. Right absolutely. So yes so the heat but then so you actually get your byline just get paid for that one article he gets 40 pounds from it which is just enough to buy tickets to Springsteen at Wembley Stadium which is a gig that is about to go on sale. Unfortunate the tickets are on go are going on sale precisely at the moment of his sister’s wedding. Who would thought while his family is is driving to the wedding he sort of sneaks away and I guess no one notices that he’s not in the car to go by these Springsteen tickets. And while he is doing that his motorcade that’s headed to the community center for the marriage runs smack into national front march and a counter protest that has been moved to that day that his father and his uncle are pulled from the car and beaten not just seriously injured but they are you know kind of bloodied up there is a kind of small riot breaks out and Java then pulls up to see that this has already happened that he missed the whole thing. So he you know kind of like he wasn’t there to protect his father from this and that sort of sets up the end of the movie where he is you know again this very kind of classically trope scene where he is like setup to he’s won his contest he has gone to America he’s come back now is this moment to get up on stage in front of the school and read his story about you know an American dream in Luton and then he gets up there and what everybody would describe what happens next.

S12: Yeah yeah. He’s going up there he’s reading his poem that been selected for this occasion and then all of a sudden his his father with whom he’s had a very bad break with because of his career ambitions and partly due to the incident shows up with the rest of his family in the back and he gets very emotional while seeing this and while in the midst of being his poem he initially tries to back away but then is prodded to keep continuing. And so then he kind of comes up with something on the fly about you know this is you know he talks about his family you know how much he loves and owes them and just trying it is mostly centered on his family.

S19: If I remember correctly and then it’s also about like his friend mad and how he sort of like forsaken like his all he’d like found this new exciting thing.

S16: But he kind of has left his old friend Yeah like in pursuit of like what he loved in pursuit of Springsteen in pursuit of his career then he ended up like leaving behind a lot of things he loved and he’s trying to like find that again circle back again. And it’s very it’s very sweet moving and his dad and him eventually reconcile and his dad’s like oh you know I love Springsteen you know he talks about hard work and stuff.

S21: Is he actually Pakistani.

S22: I think a lot of this sort of impromptu essay that he makes up on the spot is about how his previous essay was wrong because a lot of it was about like how much he didn’t like gluten how much he sort of resented his family and like where he grew up. And then he sort of realizes or he says like in this essay that he doesn’t really believe in it anymore. Because what he’s realized between writing that essay at the beginning of the movie and like now is that he relates to so much of like what Bruce has to say. But also it doesn’t apply 100 percent to him and a lot of it is about like how he wouldn’t really I guess we don’t know if like Bruce rejected his family but like there’s a lot of stuff in there about like how this sort of idea of lone wolf ism which is like you know basically like American individualism doesn’t like apply as much to him. And so there’s this idea that you can look at like what you admire from a larger culture or in this case it’s like a different culture and then just sort of get like out of it what you want or what you need. And then have those elements only apply to your own life. And so instead of sort of this like process of like duplication it’s a process of adaptation. Right. Like I think that’s sort of like what makes the end of the movie so powerful at least for me which is that he doesn’t need to be like a copy of Springsteen. He can be like his own thing right.

S15: And I think part of it is also I mean if I’m remembering this right to think it’s when he goes he’s sitting in the Stone Pony and they’re playing like alive and they’ve like a live Springsteen concert video they playing up there any time and there’s this kind of intro to a song where he talks about writing it for his sister and his and his brother in law and they go through hard times and that the song is kind of really and they’re dedicating it to them and it’s sort of like oh actually the individualism represented in the songs is like not all there is to them or all that inspires them like he’s writing about characters and it’s a certain thing. But I mean this is also like like my hometown isn’t a song that’s like in the movie. But I think it’s sort of that because it would kind of blow the reveal at the end if it’s like oh he also wrote like kind of melancholy songs about like going home and realizing that you know he like he needed to get out but he also misses that it informs who he is because that’s where the movie ends up. But yeah but I think that that like hybrid kind of conclusion that it comes down to like it just makes the movie so much more interesting and smarter. Yeah yeah absolutely yeah. And I don’t know if you know maybe doing that is sort of like you know the last act twist. It’s like it had an impact on me but I you know maybe the movie would have had more interesting had it sort of been like folded in later rather than just being you know sort of like 180 that it pulls at the end. And I’m glad it did it at least yeah.

S23: I think the way that the movie is structured is that David breaks away from it’s family decides he’s going to pursue its own interests like a girlfriend and then it supposedly makes him go too far and there is a moment where he sort of is a dick to his dad where he sort of tells that something I don’t know. It’s like went on to get a job or like one or two stop like wasting your time and like or something along those lines where he goes too far while talking to his dad and like the whole theater to put that leg very predictable thing of like Oh that.

S22: But I think the movie could have made them dislike a tad more unlikable and it did seem a little cautious on that end.

S23: And if it had sort of made him feel maybe like more like a teenager really just like more callow it probably would’ve been better but even still I really enjoyed this movie.

S21: Are you going to listen to more Springsteen now. Never.

S24: All right on that I subscribe to the slate spoiler special podcast feed and if you’d like the show please write and review it in the Apple podcast store or whatever you think your podcast. If you have suggestions for movies or TV shows we should spoil or if you have any other feedback you’d like to share. Please send it to spoilers at Slate dot com. Our producers Daniel Hewett and their engineer is precious. Thank you for listening.