Anne Philippi meets Baz Luhrmann: a visionary and his new series The Get Down
I always tried to imagine what Baz Luhrmann would be like. Would he be really moody? Would he be really shy? Would he take each for its own, or does he take pleasure in bossing people around? How large is his hysterical aura? Maybe a little too large? In recent years it became clear that Baz’s films belong to that genre that can trigger a delight in kitsch to the highest degree, that hold the most wonderful pomp in our faces. That’s why I treasure Baz. Still. I loved The Great Gatsby because Baz completely exaggerated it, and that’s the only way to understand Fitzgerald today.
Then he was standing there, a little thin, very slim face, nervous, very nervous, hat pulled into his face. It was 9 in the morning, filter coffee was had and Baz stammered a little, was anxious, his new series The Get Down, which will appear on Netflix soon, unable to be appreciated. So Baz Luhrmann stuttered a bit this morning. I had always imagined Baz with a megaphone, how he shoos people around.
And then the pilot for Baz’s The Get Down. The story of hip hop, told by black (and Puerto Rican) teenagers, but completely Luhrmann-like: with glitter, gold, big collars, super hair. Baz shows us what hip hop is saying. The people there in the down-and-out Bronx that have lived alongside hip hop since 1977. The people who created hip hop gave this country, the USA, a lot. Looks, creativity, grandeur, and of course, beats for the ages. Baz shows us this morning an entertainment version of “Black Lives Matter”. More than that. “Black Lives” is a culture that America has fed off of for a long time. What would the USA be without Beyoncé and Lemonade? Just Lady Gaga. What would it be without Jay Z? Without the art of changing the world with a record player?
It would be of less value. It would be emptier. It would be WASPy. It would be Donald Trump. Baz is the man who shows us that anti-racists make the better shows – like The Get Down. Baz is the man that you can’t hug for doing it because he’s too thin for it. But the world needs people like Baz right now.
Anne Philippi contributed to the Berlin pages of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Vogue and the German issue of Vanity Fair until 2009. She moved to Los Angeles, with a focus on interviewing Hollywood personalities. Today she partly lives in Berlin and published a book called “Giraffen”, a story that deals with the consequences of a so called existence of glamour.