Saturday, September 27, 2014

Inspiration or Rip-Off?

Michael Cooper is all excited about the documentary that Ethan Hawke made about the 87-year old piano teacher Seymour Bernstein. On the basis of his article for The New York Times, his enthusiasm may be justified. Nevertheless, he says nothing about the fact that the title of the film, Seymour: An Introduction has a precedent. Those of my generation will probably recognize it as the title of the penultimate published novella by J. D. Salinger. My guess is that Hawke selected the title as an in-joke calculated to filter out the unwashed masses from the company of the non-phony (to appropriate from Salinger) hipsters. However, knowing what we know about both the author and those now managing his estate, I have to wonder whether anyone was consulted about this selection of title. Whoever is now responsible for Salinger's legacy may view this as an unauthorized rip-off rather than a well-intentioned homage.

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