The programming at Black Sheep Fridays is very good at making adults feel awkward -- but in the best way possible. Now in its second year, the end-of-the-week get-together at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver challenges our stuck-up, grown-up brains to play live versions of Japanese game shows, listen to people discuss their cats, or just talk like pirates.
Tonight, Black Sheep is all about reliving the mortifying period known as adolescence. The MCA is teaming up with the Denver FilmCenter for Cassette Regret, an evening celebrating (and questioning) the art of dancing-alone-to-Pony-style YouTube clips. The festivities will reach back in time to that era less than two decades ago, when home recordings of both the audio and audio/visual kind didn't leave our parents' rumpus rooms, long before the international platform of embarrassment known as the Internet existed.
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"It's basically an unabashed look at what made us act the way we did in high school, and why we chose to document it ourselves," says the Denver FilmCenter's Karla Rodriguez, co-host and curator of Cassette Regret, referring to the VHS tapes of dance routines and cassette tape recordings of diary entries that she found many of her Friends were holding on to, long after most had disposed of their VCRs.
These relics will be part of the first section of the tonight's show, as Rodriguez and co-host Andy Lynes of the MCA play clips and samples from their own personal archives. When we spoke to Rodriguez earlier this week, she was on her way to her childhood home, crossing her fingers that she could dig up that VHS of herself doing a Christian rap.
The rap performance, she shared, was part of a twisted plot by her piano teacher to get Rodriguez to join her church -- since her own family was not Christian. But this is just the kind of self-mortifying material she's willing to share with an audience of strangers, if it will get people talking about their own experiences.
The second part of the show is a look at the YouTube trend, and the adolescent fascination with pride and embarrassment in the digital age. Rodriguez and Lynes have pulled together all sorts of clips -- kids singing along to Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" and the infamous Beyonce remake (see above) -- to play, then discuss.
"I don't want it to be on a degrading note, which is why I get to throw myself on the sword first," say Rodriguez. "But Cassette Regret is sort of showing the evolution of the cassette and VHS tape to the Internet." And there will be plenty to talk about, considering that most of us spend an inordinate amount of time on the Internet now. Rodriguez wants the discussion to be not only a fun look at growing up during these drastically different times, but also a frank talk about why it is we do what we do as amateur exhibitionist tweens (and, sometimes, adults).
The third and final part of this ninety-minute conversation piece will be most exciting for those adults who were actually young adults in the '90s, as Rodriguez and Lynes will roll out some clips and scripts fromMy So-Called Life
andBeverly Hills 90210
(the first version, duh).
Some of the most dramatic scenes from these era-defining shows -- remember when Jordan Catalano tried to pressure Angela Chase into having "complete sex" with him in his car? -- will be played for the crowd. Then audience members will be picked to re-enact the scenes word-for-word, using actual scripts from the shows.
Always want to play Dylan McKay? Here's your chance.
Tonight's Cassette Regret edition of Black Sheep Friday kicks off at 7 p.m. upstairs in the MCA Cafe. Just $5 gets adults in the door, and drink specials will run until 9 p.m. For more information on the subject-rotating weekly event, check out the Black Sheep Friday Facebook page.
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