Commentary

Reader Request Day: "The Myth Of Orpheus And Eurydice"

I generally don’t take requests. It’s not that you, faithful readers, don’t have good ideas for Video Critique column fodder; it’s that mine are so, so, so much better. I’ve got my finger on the pulse of the zeitgeist and my, uh, monocle on the metamorphosis of the monoculture. If something happens in this sphere of the marketing/media universe, I hear about it, sometimes.

But for whatever reason, an unusually high number of y’all - several more than I can count on a single regulation-size thumb - believe that I should focus my imposing gaze and steely intellect (or is that my steely gaze and imposing intellect?) on the Gucci/Condé Nast collaboration “The Myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.” While ordinarily I wouldn’t take walking orders from anyone who’s not my boss, wife, kid, mom, dad, friend, doctor, accomplice, acquaintance, virtual assistant or Dairy Queen counterperson, it has come to my attention that one Mr. Bruce Springsteen has been accepting fan requests for three tours now. If one of my peers can embrace the spirit of collaboration with the hoi polloi, so too can I. Ergo: “The Myth of Orpheus and Eurydice,” for you, today.

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To those who suggested this, I have one question: Do you hate me? It’s well established that my wardrobe consists of jeans and ungently weathered t-shirts and that my hair, or what’s left of it, might fairly be described as “Trumpian.” You really want me to weigh in on a hyperstylized retelling of the Orpheus myth in Brooklyn, packed with affectless models and handbags that look like Zoolander props? While you’re at it, why not solicit my opinion on the intricacies of goblin breeding?

I sort of remember the story of Orpheus and Eurydice from sophomore-year English. It’s, like, this musical Orpheus guy got married to Eurydice, but she got lured into a trap by somebody/something or other and got eaten by snakes. Orpheus was quite understandably bummed out by this, so he ventured into the underworld and played the gatekeepers one of his sweet tunes to get them in a reanimation kind of mood. They were like, okay, that’s almost as great a song as “Super Freak,” so we’ll give you Eurydice back with one condition: You can’t look back (literally, not metaphorically). Then the guy looked back and Eurydice went poof! and the teacher asked “what’s the lesson here?” and my friend John said, “Don’t look back,” and even though he was right the teacher was like, “No, that’s not really it” and I stopped paying attention.

In the Gucci/Condé Nast retelling, divided into four parts for maximum page-view impact, Orpheus and Eurydice are fashionistas with cheekbones carved out of granite. We meet them on their wedding day, which appears to be a joint celebration of love and footwear. At the altar, though, one or the other of the participants flashes on some freaky-deaky stuff - a sad groom face, a Gucci bag, etc. I believe that’s what is known in the biz as “foreshadowing.”

And so it is that, on their way out of the wedding brownstone, Orpheus and Eurydice get totally stink-eyed by a mysterious woman in sunglasses. She makes her presence felt in installment two of the mini-film, “The Bliss,” which features lots of kissing and vacant stares. But then Eurydice strays from Orpheus and encounters Mystery Woman, and then Eurydice hits the ground, and then the snake slithers around her, and then she’s gone and there’s only a matchbook with a nightclub insignia stamped upon it. I think we’re at the end of part three, “The Descent,” now. Maybe?

In the last part of the series, “The Petition of Hades,” hipster Orpheus ventures to the aforementioned nightclub and encounters lots of similarly blank-eyed people. Finally he happens upon a guy wearing a hat, who is very impressed by the poor job that Orpheus does pantomiming a guitar solo. In the film’s only dialogue, Hat Man says, “Take her… but don’t look back, or she’ll be lost to you.” Then Orpheus and Eurydice walk down a street in Brooklyn together. After a little while, Orpheus turns around. Eurydice disappears. The end.

I have no idea what to make of all of this, other than to say that Gucci sure ain’t shy about showcasing its wares. “The Myth of Orpheus and Eurydice” strikes me as the worst kind of brand navel-gazing - “this is interesting and fabulous to me, so it will be interesting and fabulous to everybody.” Good luck with that. Eurydice got off easy.

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