Rent is personally one of my all time favorite productions. It is a Broadway musical and motion picture that is set in New York City’s East Village during a time period when HIV and AIDS was a common issue. This musical expresses many other issues through its content. Most of these issues are things that the characters must learn to deal with and try to fix throughout the span of the film. Some of the problems depicted are the characters struggling with drugs, understanding sexuality, paying their rent, and living with HIV/AIDS.
These different issues each contribute to the fact that in this world there are many different types of people who are often viewed in many different ways. The beginning of the film takes place on Christmas Eve in 1989. One of the very first scenes of the movie, Mark Cohen, his roommate, Roger Davis, and their many neighbors learn that their rent is due for the past year. Their landlord, Benny Coffin, is threatening to evict all of his residents so that he can build a cyber studio in place of the apartment complex because he isn’t making any money by owning this complex.
About an hour and thirty minutes into the film, Benny puts a pad lock on the door of Mark and Roger’s apartment and takes everything that they own. This shows a lot about who Benny is as a person and what he thinks about the people who rent out of his apartment complex. After watching the few scenes involving Benny and his apartment’s residents, it becomes clear that he looks down on people who don’t have a dollar to their name. It also shows how he thinks he is better than these “poor” people just because he has the ability to throw them out onto the streets at any point in time. This also connects to the real world in a way.
It is a known fact that there is the upper class and lower class in our world’s societies. In this world, there are cases where the “lower class” is looked down upon because they don’t have materials or money to flaunt how “great” they are. Towards the end of the film, something happens that typically wouldn’t; Benny ends up having a change in heart. He goes back to Mark and Roger’s apartment to return their belongings and make a deal with them that is rent free so that they can stay in their home.
Mark refuses to take Benny’s offer and he writes a check to cover their rent for a while while he states “Look, we don’t need your charity. The fact that Benny changed his mind about evicting Mark and Roger shows how deep down he pities the people who can’t afford things like he can. Though he is trying to help them out by cooperating and making such a great offer, it still portrays how Benny feels towards people with less money. No matter what he does in the film, it is still an obvious issue that “poor” people are often portrayed like they are not worth as much as people who have the money to flaunt. Another topic that is constantly portrayed throughout the musical is the many different sexualities in this world.
In the beginning of the film, a male character named Tom Collins gets mugged in a dark alleyway and is saved by another character named Angel. While this scene is happening, Angel is dressed like your typical American male, but that is not the case. Shortly after this scene, the producers reveal that Angel is a transgender female who then pursues a relationship with Collins. In this film, Angel is viewed in a very positive way. Her character’s purpose is to show that we can begin to see the world in terms of the things that we can give rather than just what we can get.
Another scene in which Angel is expressing her kindness is when she is willing gives out hundreds of dollars to Mark and Roger, whom she has never met, and asks for nothing in return. This shines a positive light on her character and shows that just because she is different, doesn’t mean that she has to be portrayed differently than everyone else. Toward the end of the film Angel’s infection with the HIV/AIDS virus causes her to pass on. Angel was the beacon of hope had died causing everyone’s lives went downhill rapidly. Another case in the film that depicts sexuality is with three characters.
Early on in the film, the audience learns that Mark Cohen’s ex-girlfriend, Maureen Johnson, left him for another woman. Benny asks Mark if Maureen “got a new man. ” When Mark replies that Maureen left him for someone names Joanne, Benny stands there and hysterically laughs about the situation. It’s a weird thing to hear, that a woman left a man for another woman. It’s not something you hear too often. The way Benny reacts shows how people may react to something like this in the real world. A bit later on in the film the whole gang gets together at a diner in town.
While at the diner, a musical number happens where the cast sings a song titled “La Vie Boheme. ” During this number, there is a scene where Collins and Angel kiss and so do Maureen and Joanne. A business man sees them and coughs to get their attention. The ladies reply to his reaction by saying “hey mister, she’s my sister. ” From seeing this, the audience can understand that this specific man may not be so supportive of homosexual relationships, or any type of relationship that is not heterosexual.
Throughout the decades, people have considered heterosexual relationships the “social norm. Within today’s society, there are still some cases where people are frowned upon for being anything other than heterosexual. This particular scene from the film tells the audience about how some people in this world aren’t as accepting to people with varied sexualities. The use of and struggle with drugs is another issue that is presented within the film. In this world, people who get involved with drugs are often looked upon as bad or troublesome people.
In the very beginning of the film, Benny says to Roger that he’s “looking good for a guy who’s coming off of a year of withdraw. When he says this, you can hear judgment in his tone. The audience can clearly understand that Benny’s tone of voice means that he thinks lesser of Roger for becoming involved with drugs in his past. Another character in the film who struggles with drugs is Mimi Marquez. Mimi is an exotic dancer that struggles with an addiction to heroin. In the beginning of the film, during the musical number “Light My Candle,” Mimi’s addiction is revealed. Roger discovers that Mimi has a stash of drugs with her so he took the liberty of snatching it from her.
Since Roger used to be involved with drugs, he tells Mimi that she should “forget that stuff. ” Her use of drugs is what causes her to contract the HIV/AIDS virus. When Mimi gets into an argument with Roger, she decides to try to stop using drugs and attends a meeting where people with AIDS can go and talk about their experiences. After all this they show Mimi struggling going through withdraw. Roger is there to care for her when she is at her worst. This shows that the people that go through the worst are sometimes the best people because they know what its like to have a “bad life.
Finally, the biggest issue presented within in the film is that many of the characters are living with the HIV/AIDS virus. During this time period, this virus was a huge epidemic and it was often referred to as “baggage. ” The characters that are infected with this virus are Angel, Roger, Collins, and Mimi. Overall, this musical and film is great at making sure each and every topic is displayed correctly. In this time period, the Bohemian Alphabet City struggles with many things such as drugs, rent, HIV/AIDS, and sexuality.