Every time I googled movie and hearing loss “It’s All Gone Pete Tong” came up faster than “Mr. Hollands Opus.” I didn’t put it on my list for a long time but last night I googled the same thing and it came up again. I knew I had to order it this time. It came in the other night.
The first half was confusing and a bit bizarre. Clearly DJ Frankie Wilde is going hard of hearing and he’s a hot item in Ibiza, Spain on the club scene. He’s a party boy and there’s a few drug scenes and here’s where I started thinking about the movie Trainspotting from the 90’s. There’s a big badger who carries a child’s wand with a star and tinsel at the end. The badger wears an apron and signifies his cocaine habit.
His hearing drops far enough he can’t mix/time the music right and he can’t fake his way through it. He sees and doctor and goes through all the tests. The doctor tells him there are holes in his ears and the 20% remaining hearing in one ear is precarious. He’s not eligible for a cochlear implant so the doctor hands him a hearing aid warning him to wear it only when he must. It’s not long before he’s accidentally exposed to extreme noise and loses his remaining hearing. His wife leaves him, he can’t play music and locks himself away in the house. He beats his drug habit in the process. This is where Ken fell asleep and the real story of hearing loss started.
After re-emerging in the world he seeks lip reading help. He meets a Deaf woman who helps him embrace a new identity. In my opinion, he learns to lip read a little too fast for a late deafened and sudden hearing loss type but it’s movie. He and the deaf woman become a couple. They go to clubs with different styles of music and she shows him how to feel music. There’s a scene when at club where electronica is being played (the music he used to make), she takes him right up to the speakers to feel the way it comes out of the speakers to get a beat.
Ah! I know this way of feeling music. I love to dance and when I used to go to Burning Man, I’d go up to the raves and get right up against the wall of speakers. I’d close my eyes to better feel the music going through me, dancing like the speaker was my partner. I could feel it vibrate through my clothes and the ground under my feet thumped while the air ‘woofed’ out of the speakers. I danced until I dropped. It probably didn’t help my remaining hearing either but I enjoyed it.
In another scene, it shows Frankie pulling out all his sound equipment to give music another try. He sets two speakers on the floor and adds some flip-flop straps to slide his feet. The speakers look like outrageous shoes, to better feel the music he missed so much.
Music and dancing have been a part of my life. My parents say I started dancing when I was two years old. I loved “Cecilia” by Simon and Garfunkel and just went crazy dancing whenever they put it on. In grade school I went to many years of tap, dance, ballet then jazz dance lessons. In high school, I rarely missed a dance. When I moved out of town after graduating, I discovered 18 and up clubs for dancing. All through the years I’ve gone to clubs and danced. I feel good when I dance.
When I started losing my hearing I closed my eyes to better concentrate on the music and learned to feel it. As more hearing dropped more, I gravitated to music I already knew (70’s disco and the 80’s that I grew up with). Burning Man 2002 introduced me to electronica (no lyrics, yay) and I loved the heavy beat. That’s been my main music for the last 11 years.
I always said if I lost my hearing entirely, I would get a big speaker and lay it on the floor face up and straddle the sucker if I had to so I wouldn’t lose dancing. When Frankie laid the speaker down on the floor in the movie my eyes went wide. Did someone else have the same idea I did? Almost. He put his feet on it instead and that’s an idea too. I wonder if flip-flop tops produce another kind of vibration?
Frankie Wild makes a comeback CD and plays for the club one more time. It’s awesome and he’s a hero again; a deaf DJ. I thought at first the movie was based on a true story and I really wanted that CD to see how it felt, to see what a deaf person could produce with music. It would have to have a lot of feeling. After some research I found out it was fiction made with a documentary feel. Bummer. I googled other deaf musicians and came up with a few, Sean Forbes the most interesting one so far. Nothing electronica darn it.