I’ve been reading about the TV show Fame and was moved by one of the episodes.
Michael Thoma, who played Mr. Crandall, was dying of cancer. At the end of the first season, the school board fired Mr. Crandall – because of the budget, not because he did anything wrong – and I believe this the producers’ way of easing Thoma out of the show because he was too sick to continue performing.
In the first season finale, A Special Place, the students gather around Mr. Crandall and sing a very lovely song called “Starmaker,” which was something of a hit when it was released on the “The Kids from Fame” album. In the scene from that episode, Thoma is clearly moved; apparently, he wasn’t aware the kids were going to sing to him. Once you realize that the scene isn’t just students singing for their teacher but also actors saying goodbye to a dying comrade, it’s hard not cry a little.
My question is about the song. It’s supposed to be praise, a thank-you, and a farewell, but the lyrics don’t seem to convey that. The chorus is “Starmaker, dream breaker, soul taker,” which sounds rather damning. The rest is a sad reflection on fame. The song ends: “It’s the only life I’ve known, and I can’t even call it my own, I have no home, I belong to you, Starmaker.”
This would seem to undercut what is really a beautiful television moment (and lest you scoff, the show won five Emmys that first season, along with two Golden Globes – including Best Musical or Comedy Series). Anyway, here’s a (safe) site that lists the lyrics.
What do you think? Are the kids thanking Mr. Crandall or accusing him? Are the song and the scene so beautiful that it doesn’t matter?