Thursday, May 3, 2018

Michael Ramirez's "Destined for Greatness"

Michael Ramirez is an associate professor of sociology at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new book, Destined for Greatness: Passions, Dreams, and Aspirations in a College Music Town:
Destined for Greatness: Passions, Dreams, and Aspirations in a College Music Town is a sociological study of the life course pathways that lead some men and women to careers in rock music as they venture into adulthood. I interviewed nearly fifty musicians in the iconic college music town of Athens, Georgia for the book. While the musicians were a diverse population, they were all – every last one of them – consistent in the passion they had for music.

Their pathways to music were varied. Some knew from an early age that music was "in their blood” and that music was their life calling. Others were “late bloomers” who didn't get the music bug until later in life. Destined for Greatness traces the ways musicians navigate music and creatively embed it in their lives, despite the trials of adulthood. The book is about more than music. It is about how the dreams we craft are shaped by larger social forces of gender, age, and culture.

I could easily see my book adapted for the big screen. I am torn between two film versions of Destined for Greatness. Treatment one is the drama - almost a coming of age film in the vein of Thirteen or Boyhood. I imagine Richard Linklater would nail it (as he did with Dazed and Confused and Boyhood). He has a knack for painting the subtleties of adolescence and the larger experience of aging. Plus, he would ensure the best soundtrack for the film, as music is a core theme of much of Linklater’s work.

The second – and far more different – design I have of the film adaptation is more of a comedic treatment. I know there’s a comedy buried in this sociological book somewhere. It would just take the genius of someone like Amy Heckerling to dig it out. Her films, especially the classic Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Clueless, are aligned with the larger themes of aging and explorations of identity that the musicians in my book illustrate. Plus, it has been far too long since the world has been graced with Heckerling's work. Destined for Greatness would be a fantastic re-introduction of her vision to the world.

Now to the important business of casting the film. Among the men’s roles, I’d certainly need to see Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the film adaptation. He could easily convince the audience of his authenticity as a would-be rock star. Gael García Bernal is underused in Hollywood, and I would recruit him to join the cast. His work in The Motorcycle Diaries and Mozart in the Jungle was superb. Finally, I would love to see Matthew McConaughey as one of the musicians’ older brothers in the film.

There are so many women would I’d love to see in the film. At the top of my audition wish list would have to be Zooey Deschanel. This one is a no-brainer. She can pull off serious and comedic roles with ease. She could channel her musical experience from her band She & Him into the role. Ever since 2009’s (500) Days of Summer, fans have pined for the reunion of Deschanel and the aforementioned Joseph Gordon-Levitt. This film would satisfy that itch. Evan Rachel Wood is among my favorite actresses of all time. I have every confidence she could make the film superb with her presence. America Ferrera is my final pick for a lead role. She has played the quirky, nerdy type, but I would love this film to be her foray into something new. Finally, someone along the lines of Tina Fey would be excellent as the mentor figures many of the women in the book spoke of in terms of shaping their careers in Chapter 5.

And while I’m at it, why not consider a cameo by a famous Athens musician or two? I’d love to see the entirety of REM make an appearance, maybe as townies or the musicians’ parents. I imagine Patterson Hood of The Drive-By Truckers makes a great Old Fashioned cocktail, so let’s give him a role as a bartender at a scene at the iconic 40 Watt Club. Cheers!
Learn more about Destined for Greatness at the Rutgers University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Destined for Greatness.

--Marshal Zeringue