Whiplash (as reviewed by a jazz musician)

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j e : more like astrophysicists complaining about a star is born

lil cam : This is one of the most pretentious things I've ever seen

Григорий Дубров : Are hands supposed to bleed?? I mean... I am a drummer and after hours of practice nothing happened. IF YOU HOLD STICKS THE RIGHT WAY

Raging S : "This is like astrophysicists complaining about Interstellar." No, if Whiplash were like interstellar, every time the protag hit a drum it would make piano noises, and he and the teacher would reconcile when they learned the secret to winning Jazz is the power of love.

Thomas H : I clicked hoping this guy would review the song Whiplash by Metallica lol

Schaffrillas Productions : Very great analysis. Whiplash is my favorite film simply based on its filmmaking and narrative merits; I don't know anything about jazz, but it was to hear a perspective on this film from someone who does understand jazz culture. However, I also never believed for a second that this movie's depiction of college jazz bands was realistic. Put simply, this isn't supposed to be a jazz movie - it's an obsession movie.

geoff394 : Nitpicking aside, the movie strains credibility. Its entire premise hangs on an abusive teacher at an expensive music school. This isn't even a sports movie, it's an army movie.

Nate : I teach music and always tell a student to STOP if their hands, back, or anything HURTS! There are many, many stories of big time musicians forced to deal with injuries because they practiced 'till it hurts'. For instance, a famous rock drummer (I won't give names - musicians generally don't like publicity on their injuries) had to re-learn how to hit the snare really hard. A pianist who wanted to play like Horowitz permanently injured their little finger because they taped it up to imitate their idol. A guitarist got arthritis in their first finger because they wanted to 'give the audience what they want' which was a fast single finger vibrato. Musicians can practice too long and get repetitive motion injuries similar to carpel tunnel from overuse. I once temporarily hurt my finger by stretching it too much trying to hit an unusual chord. A singer I know developed nodules on her vocal cords by incorrect technique and going for notes beyond her range. In the movie, the drummer plays so hard that he risks a career-ending injury. Any professional will tell you that your first job is to be in shape to play your next job! If you injure yourself, all the practice in the world won't help because the audience won't even hear you play. I wish SOMEONE in this film would have told the drummer to avoid injury. As a teacher, I think that person should be his bandleader. At least, the film should have had one of his fellow students say, "Hey, man. Don't try to kill every note. You're gonna hurt your wrist (or hand or shoulder, etc.). It was a good film, but I hope it doesn't make young musicians think the way to succeed is to push yourself into injury. I also liked the reviewer's opinions on the film. I'm not a drummer myself (I play notes - sorry, my bad) but I like to hear the perspective of one.

Grand Master Flash : Ya know this is a whole video about picking on the little things, which is totally fine I loved the vid but I’m going to nit pick this video. In it you say the term “negative reinforcement” when referring to how fletcher treats his students. This is not the correct term. Negative reinforcement refers to taking away a stimulus or object to encourage a behavior. He’s using positive punishment, when they screw up he adds a stimulus, specially him yelling and throwing things, to get a behavior to stop. So there ya go there’s you’re fun psychology terminology fact of the day.

J : I was mad during the middle of the movie where he is just practicing and it plays the audio of him 'practicing'.....HES JUST PLAYING A TERRIBLE BLAST BEAT.

Adam Neely : This sort of deep analysis of film is new to me. One thing that I noticed while combing through this movie for jazz nitpicks is that...this movie is insanely narratively tight and focused in it's storytelling! No second of celluloid is wasted - everything has a purpose. It really is a joy to behold from that perspective. My critique is mainly coming from a cultural analysis - not a narrative one. Please take that for what it's worth!

carritohmc : I liked the review and I liked the movie. I don't understand why people are so angry about it, it's perfectly okay for someone (a reviewer) to give their honest opinion according to their perspective and also be wrong about certain things. I've found it quite interesting that many people in the comment section, and in other critiques of this movie, have had experiences of bullying similar to what's portrayed in the movie, and honestly it's not that surprising really, it seems ballet, some marching bands and apparently orchestra students have gone through stuff like this. Either way, enjoyed the review, and I've always liked jazz, this movie didn't make me like it any less.

cmg2491 : At 19:26 you point out that the music Fletcher plays is the same kind of music he goes on to complain about as "killing jazz", now I could be stretching here, but I'm pretty sure it was intentional for him to play such "boring, flat jazz" because he is not a great musician. His goal was to find that great musician more than likely because he was never accomplished as a musician himself. Those who can't do, teach philosophy.

Elliott Stanger : My take on your Part 6: Based on my experience in music school/conservatory, from undergrad all the way through my DMA, I took that scene where Fletcher is playing "Little Tikes Jazz" as more of a sign that he's not who he makes himself out to be. His jazz chops aren't as polished as people think, and his standards and expectations for his students are greater than the standards and expectations for himself. I think that is very common in professors and music teachers who exhibit aggression and displeasure towards their students. When Andrew sees this, the layers start to get peeled back and maybe he starts to realize, like I realized, "this guy is full of shit." Often times when you go into a new school, or really any new environment, the shine starts to wear off after awhile, and you end up seeing people for who they really are. That was definitely the experience I had: I idolized teachers because of how tough they were and strived to meet their ever-changing expectations, even put up with their mind games and mental abuse. Looking back, that obviously wasn't normal behavior, and in moving up in the musical world, you develop the theory that those people put up an aggressive facade in order to mask their own incompetencies. Great video! (Edited to fix the name of the character)

theysaidyes? : i swear to BASSing god...

Travis Hunt YouTube PhD : Adam isn't fun at parties.

Maverick Kajita : As a jazz drummer I hated that movie

Alf Lemon : Finally someone explains this shit. As someone who doesn't have enough musical education I always wondered why Jazz musicians love to trash this film.

EdwardHowton : But if you don't practice your jazz until your hands bleed at 570bpm+, how will you ever win the jazz trophy at the olympics? I found this video in the recommendations. I'm not a big music guy. I like big band, but I wouldn't have been able to name 'Sing Sing Sing' until a year ago, and don't ask me about famous musicians' names. I've never seen Whiplash, don't even know what the song is and haven't looked it up. I watched this video on a whim... and I agree, _Whiplash_ looks like a sports movie. I learned how to play the organ as a kid, I can still play _Que Sera, Sera_ from memory thirty years later. I don't even recognize _music_ from the clips of Whiplash, never mind lessons. That's kind of funny to me. Especially since I was terrible about practicing and never did it seriously, but I did play songs as quickly as I possibly could, just to go _Faster! FASTER!_ It's kind of weird, sad, and hilarious all at the same time that a guy like me, the best of which you could say about my artistic talent being "is able to play an instrument, sort of", is about on par with _Whiplash._

Ed J.L : Nobody likes intelligence. Your analysis is amazing and accurate. Those how disagree just are following the trend of ignorance.

SpectreSoundStudios : As a metalhead, I loved this film... and it actually got me to check out some jazz for the first time ever.

Jesse .Sutton : My big issue, my HUGE issue, is that a director would NEVER sabotage his own performance. That took me out of the story. That was like having Snow White start shooting people. No director would ever sacrifice their own performance to make a point.

Noel Yates : The movie about jazz education is still to be made. Perhaps Adam Neely could make it, he has the chops.

Bryan Leigh : Sundance fave and critical success Whiplash (2014) is like many films that take an esoteric, highly technical activity and make it accessible by using a crude formulaic approach. What really drives jazz students and educators is their communal love for the music. Instead we get clichéd conflict melodrama, a troubled but talented, highly aspirational youth, and an all knowing mentor who relentlessly demands over-achievement. (In reality the professor in Whiplash would be charged with threatening behaviour.) Likewise The Red Shoes (1948) and Black Swan (2010), successful respected films, but people who actually DO ballet think them unrealistic, often ridiculous. Again, a talented student tries to please a demanding, contemptuous mentor. Same Ur narrative and types in Educating Rita (1982), with it's cynical, wise (if tippling) supervisor and driven student. And anyone who's studied Eng Lit knows that Rita's learning by a series of epiphanic breakthroughs, light bulb On! moments, is bollocks. But that's why such films are popular. High concept material treated as soap. You already know (and are presumed to want again) the story arc with its contrived emotive beats. The setting hardly matters. Musicians and music lovers, btw, are better sketched in Spinal Tap and Wayne's World. Because parody observes its subject more closely than formulaic melodrama.

SquidwardAF : It's funny that an anime with cute girls "Hibike! Euphonium" doesn't have the biggest problem of Whiplash. Please review musical stuff in "Hibike! Euphonium"

Hulavuta : I always saw that kind of coldness as the point. The overly technical and competitive nature of the band and the players destroyed all of the fun and happiness of creating music. Honestly, I had a similar experience in middle and high school. Things were just way too damn competitive and it took the fun out a lot for me and caused me a ton of stress, even losing sleep and all that. I was first chair alto saxophone, it felt like people were trying to "assassinate me" so to speak, and get the spot themselves. A lot of friendships were ruined through band. I eventually switched to tenor just so I could face less competition, only two of us. Even that guy kept trying to put me down and bully me, make fun of me for having a cheaper instrument, not being as good as him, etc. Even though I beat him at every audition and stayed first chair, even THEN I felt bad because I knew how badly he wanted it and how much it crushed him that I beat him. I even had teachers who weren't exactly similar to Fletcher, but definitely felt that way. In marching band, tons of guilt tripping, lots of "you're not giving 100% to the band" "you're letting your bandmates down" "we expect more from you" etc. Marching band techs even telling you to "shut up" and that your technique "sucks" in front of the whole band. Really makes you feel like a right piece of shit. Fletcher is definitely a cartoon character, but I didn't mind that. Bullying always *feels* worse than it looks, that's why when we see people getting bullied we often don't think twice about it or feel that sorry for them. But anyone who has been bullied knows that what others see as "just words" can have a huge psychological impact. So amping him up to ridiculous levels to really get how much of a bully he was across made sense to me. Even then I actually quit music for about a year after that, until I learned how to have fun with it again. I think the severe psychological damage you can get doing any kind of competition in school, where kids are merciless, is realistic. Even the kid who killed himself in this movie is believable to me. I won't say I ever seriously considered or attempted suicide but there were times I felt on the edge. I think it would be a weird interpretation for anyone to watch this movie and think it's cool and fun. I thought it was quite obvious it was supposed to kind of be a tragic hero story, but maybe that's only because I had that same experience myself.

Andrew The Piano Junkie : It is a good movie. But a good movie that I hate most. As a piano teacher myself, I could not condone what the couch had done against his students. Probably that's the point of the movie.

forcedentry2010 : "This movie is too unrealistic!" Yea. It's a fucking fictional movie. It's not a biography of Andrew Nieman and his rise to fame because of the drive and sometimes psychotic teachings of his professor. Sometimes you people need to chill out a little and not try so hard. It's a great movie. Is it historically or culturally correct in jazz music? Probably fucking not. You guys must be fun at parties. "Ahhh this is good food." Blowhard food critic: "Wellllllll ACKTHUALLY..."

E2070Swn : I thought the whole thing about the movie is the undying passion for learning and doing something that you truly love regardless of much it bleeds you dry. You could replace the Jazz in the movie with anything really, Art, Film Making, fucking dry cleaning and it would still reflect the same message; If you really need to do it, you really need to do it.

Bronson Carder : Hey Adam, question for your Q+A: Have you watched the show Metalocalypse? Did you know show creator Brendon Small is a graduate of Berklee as well? He performs all of the guitars and and most of the vocals in the show (he does some of the drums, but he brought in the amazing Gene Hoglan to do most of it). Just curious as to what you think about a fellow Berklee alum taking that direction with his music, and what you think about the music in the show (if anything at all lol)?

Tania Isabel : People on the comments complaining that "he didn't get" the point of the movie, I'm pretty sure he's not dumb, this isn't a cinematography critique, it's supposed to be seen from the jazz technical point of view. If you asked him if he liked the story, character development, photography or lighting, his commentary would be different.

OsKarMike1306 : It's funny because the next movie Hurwitz composed for was LaLa Land, another jazz centric story (and also acting, but whatever). I think he does a much better job at exposing the exciting sides of jazz as the story requires it at some point, but you can still hear his classical tendencies in the score, especially in the piano parts. Also, that movie shows a distinct disdain for experimental jazz, jazz fusion and genre bending with jazz, which is an obsolete way of playing and enjoying jazz since Headhunters by Herbie Hancock or whenever Miles Davis started getting really into psychedelic rock shortly before Bitches Brew (I want to say around In A Silent Way, but I'd have to double check that). It also completely discards jazz influences on hip hop, where the genre gained a fantastic second life (or double life as jazz still very much lives, albeit with significantly less popularity) and I think that's the real tragedy of any interpretation of the jazz culture. You can't talk about modern jazz without mentioning J Dilla, Nujabes, Gramatik, Knxwledge or Noname (not sure if she actually produces her music, but it's definitely jazz through and through). I'd love for you to tackle on LaLa Land though, you're much more educated in that field that I am (I'm not, I just like music alot) and I'm sure you'd have alot of interesting insight on how they portray the community in there as well as the music.

Frank Jaegervand Larssen : Well, Dave Weckl obsessed over Buddy Rich for a long time and still consider him one of the greatest. Dave´s opinion is weightier than most. In fact, Buddy has been idolized by most big name jazz and fusion drummers.

Alex Schrock : The movie is trash; I don't think you need to be diplomatic and say "I liked the movie but it got jazz wrong" - just say that it's trash.

bc3174 : You think Downton Abbey is accurate?...Downton is the Whiplash of the Period Costume genre.

resevil2396 : You watched it....on a tablet...in a busy park....thats just painful to see lol

Renars Dilevka : Maybe Fletchers character is so in the heaven of jazz standards, that he forgot he sounds like Starbucks jazz himself. Pride and power has taken over, engraved in him the vision of jazz future based on tragic past events. So in my opinion, Fletcher, just lost his decency and humanity. So the only thing for him to keep alive in jazz is pride of young musicians fulfilling his dream but doing it in very hypocritical, selfish way :)

Natsu Dragion77 : I totally get why people who are into jazz are annoyed with this movie. I do. But it is first and foremost a Movie. it has to be narratively interesting more than anything , And it was for me . Also , it being the only movie heavily relating to jazz and jazz education doesn't mean it has to bear the burden of it being 100% accurate, even to sacrifice the storytelling in favor of it. I know that's not quite what you are saying but i felt the need to bring it up because that's how we get movies with very muddy storytelling Imo

Tcho Laury : Always hav something to dislike huh?

Will Talley : So many comments in here being like, "You can't say this movie is bad! Yeah it's inaccurate but no one thinks it is, it's a movie!!!!!!" Except... people do think it's accurate. I'm not even a jazz musician, I'm a classical musician, but tons of people, upon learning I play trombone, will ask me if I like Whiplash. I was in a big band last year, and one of my nonmusician friends asked me if it was like Whiplash. This is a lot of people's ONLY exposure to college music. This is it. The inaccuracies matter because people don't know they're inaccuracies. Sci-fi is one thing, because people DO understand those are fake. But people DON'T understand how this movie is wrong, unless they have some musical background. Yeah, Adam does complain about certain things that feel way too insignificant to care about. But when he talks about love of music, and the way practicing is portrayed, and the things the director yells about - he's totally right. There are people whose only exposure to jazz is this movie, and they're going to take those things as "slight exaggerations", not the total fabrications they are. If you're a jazz lover, is this really what you want representing jazz to the rest of the world? La La Land had similar issues, but at least that movie had positive things to say about jazz.

8 Bit Brody : I had my own Terrance Fletcher, and he's a pretty big reason why I dropped out of Jazz school. He also loved Parker, and I can play far too many Parker tunes because of it.

Fernando Froio : Holy crap. I loved your video, dude! I really liked the movie, but never thought of it from a musician perspective. That was great! Ow, btw, have you watched the anime kids on the slope? Pretty dope! (from a non musician perspective hehe)

ESC Em : to me, it just depends on experience. my sister (a trombonist) had a similar experience to this in her college jazz band. i wouldn’t say her director was EXACTLY like fletcher, but he was pretty damn loud and a bit insulting. my friend katherine (a trumpeter and a drummer) had a completely opposite experience. 🤷‍♂️

Mind Mesh Motion Arts /Mesh Ensemble Muzik : The irony with this movie, and what it actually tries to project to viewers in eras of themes and lessons, is that greatness comes out of deplorable situations of abuse and depravity. I personally do not doubt that a few great ones overcame a lot of crap from demented and abusive “mentors” to “make it,” to some extent. But no one ever truly follows n asshole. And in most cases it is not “because of them” it more that someone made it “in lieu of them.” I will never forget going to my first drum lesson with my elementary school teacher and conductor of 4th grade band — my private drum/percussion instruction began the summer before just after 3rd grade — and seeing a LINE of at least 9 kids in my grade hovering over their Remo and Ludwig drum pads on stands. Within two months nearly all of them quit — every one of my friends said it was because of Mr. Nelson — and the only ones left by the end of the year was myself and one other classmate. she and I would be the only “band” drummers of our grade until our sophomore year. She would finally quit leaving me to be the only one and there NO drummers in the grade behind us. I was blessed to have a group of rowdy young newcomers who would arrive and we were all percussion brothers until I left. There def are shitty teachers out there as well as great and inspiring teachers. I personally thought this movie’s abuse level was off the chart and more akin to other professions.

Asian sitting Duck - : There’s no community of jazz musicians that we can see because the movie is about Andrew, and he really doesn’t have a friends or someone he can relate to

Harry Ashley : I'm a bit disappointed that you watched it on your iPad in a park. The film is so brilliantly shot... It deserves a little more than that xD

Tuomo Luukkanen : "If this is the way that gets people interested in modern jazz music, I'm OK with it" Oh thank god you're OK with it. Don't know what I would've done with myself otherwise.

greensoul82 : snob.. its just a movie, take it easy

Piano Covers Man : 24:10 if you can play it slowly, you can play it quickly

Dawoud Kringle : I used to study with a guitar teacher in my hometown (Milwaukee, WI), George Pritchett. He'd toured with Buddy Rich. He was somewhat of a Whiplash teacher. When you came in to the lesson, you didn't want to mess up. Unfortunately, George had a substance abuse problem, and often showed up at lessons and gigs ripped out of his mind. But he was a monster on guitar.