This post was originally submitted two years ago to a joint blog that was never published.
screencaps made and sourced from original video
One of my favourite things about The Amazing Spider-Man was the omission of the “with great cheese comes great carbonara” quote in favour of one made by Peter Parker’s English teacher
“I had a professor once who liked to tell his students that there were only 10 different plots in all of fiction. Well, I’m here to tell you he was wrong. There is only one: ‘Who am I?’”
My friend Mark once talked about storytelling as the brightly coloured wrapper concealing what was actually bought within. I resonate with this because I’m the kind of person to accidentally-on-purpose throw the wrong item into the wrong receptacle and spend the day watching the way sunlight reflected off the shiny plastic covering. Needless to say I am and always have been obsessed with stories, with context, with answering the ‘Who am I’ question. This is also why I am constantly on the same two pages of Rap Genius, devouring interpretations and analyses of others, any attempt hoping to unravel the layers of which I want to keep.
It’s been at least 15 years since Eminem released ‘Stan’ one of his greatest tracks of all time. Firstly, the play count on my iTunes doesn’t even do justice to how much I have listened to this song in my lifetime (I was still listening to tapes until I was fourteen). I love the emotive lyrics, the tone, and the haunting hook of Dido’s voice set against the dull yet hard hitting strumming of the bass guitar in the background. A good song on repeat is like reading a good book over and over again, with all the techniques of multiple choruses and the positioning of the bridge completely relevant to the overall message.
‘Stan’ is a rap song told through a series of letters sent to Eminem by an unhinged “crazy” fan. I can’t confess to relating to what it might feel like to drive your car over a bridge with a pregnant girlfriend in my trunk. But I think the message of unrequited love, of an unhealthy reliance on both objects and people, of going so far into the darkness that you can hear the rain pouring even if it isn’t, these are the things we can understand, and ‘that shit helps when [we’re] depressed’. However above everything my favourite thing about ‘Stan’ is that when I listen to it, I feel fear. That’s the kind of trigger that I thrive on, for a story to hit me so hard it creates an emotional response in me. Don’t even get me started on the contextual developments surrounding this song that shows how it’s impacted other people. But do watch my favourite rendition of it featuring Elton John.
I’m not a musician, I can barely read notes. What I’m trying to illustrate is that stories can be found in any form whether written, drawn or recorded on a cassette before you plunge to your death. I loved English in high school because I loved analysing meanings and intentions even if it turns out they all share the same plot. Perhaps my obsession lies in the hope that after countless of hours lost in different literary worlds and endless nights rote learning essays written by other people that were in turn about books published by someone else, I would finally know the answer to the question myself. Who am I?