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(music)One of these things is not like the other…(/music)
I have a real soft spot for Tom Snyder. He read a letter I wrote him on the air once and responded to it. And he never pretended to be smarter or hipper than he actually was, which in the current environment is almost endearing.
When Ace Frehley and Doug Kenney wanted to vent against “the system, man,” they both picked Tom Snyder as their whipping boy, which seemed vaguely inappropriate. At his heart, he was convention personified, but not power or privilege.
One of these things is definitely not like the others, but it’s the one that I liked the most, and that I felt some connection to (albeit a staring-at-the-tv connection). Antonioni and Bergman made great films, but Tom Snyder made me feel like he knew I was watching and thought I needed a laugh.
In roaming the web and reading Snyder memorials from his fans, I’ve ended up feeling sorry for Charlie Rose. He’s the only widely viewed person who does the one-on-one long form interviews these days, so, of course, the occasional poster says “Charlie Rose, you’ve got nothing on Tom”.
Snyder’s conventionality is exactly what made his interviews with people like John Lennon, Wendy O. Williams, Harlan Ellison, and Charles Manson so memorable. He was asking the same questions that most of his audience would have asked, had they been as knowledgeable.
One thing these three people had in common is that they weren’t corporate cut-out figures. Bergman and Antonioni were artists in a business that, especially today, considers art an unjustifiable indulgence; Snyder was a talk-show host who wasn’t a stand-up comedian and whose preference, I suspect, was to interview interesting people, whether or not they were celebrities.
We lost filmmaker Curtis Harrington a couple of months ago. He was drawn to film for it’s artistic properties, and was kept from doing more than practicing his craft doing television episodes for most of the last 20 years of his life. He had no interest in getting into film to make money, and he never had a huge hit, so he was exiled.
Most of my compatriots in film studies were in it to make money or to be a professor. Few are interested, in I am, in using film for artistic expression, which is probably why it appears that I’m screwed to a life of low-level admin work…