Red Dog Music | Oct 9, 2018 | 0
Let’s celebrate the destruction of that priceless Martin guitar in The Hateful Eight, not condemn it
As I’m sure our avid Red Dog Blog readers will be aware, while filming a scene for Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight”, actor Kurt Russell destroyed a priceless, antique C.F. Martin & Co. acoustic guitar. Not a prop. Not a replica. The actual, factual, one-and-only original.
While I agree that this is obviously a tragic turn of events, the deed is done, and I feel like there’s no point crying over spilt milk… or shattered spruce… whatever. At a fundamental level, a musical instrument; nay, music itself is created to illicit an emotional response. Aside from a few lurid, self-congratulatory “special editions” built from extinct wood and mammoth ivory, instruments aren’t created to sit in glass cabinets being gawked at.
If you were as shocked as I was upon hearing the news, then surely – in some way – that instrument has succeeded in its purpose of creating that deep emotional response? Losing an artefact from the bygone time, a time when the light bulb and telephone had just been invented. A time when Monet, Renoir and Cézanne were modern art. A time when Prussia was a thing. It’s only natural to feel a deep sense of loss, and maybe even anger at the careless, casual way the instrument was destroyed.
While the official line from the production crew was that the incident was accidental, it wouldn’t surprise me if it happened intentionally and that most of the people involved were complicit. In my personal opinion, I think Tarantino is a hack pastiche merchant, but who cares about what I think? His films have netted over £1,000,000,000 at the box office globally. His artistic vision – even when standing on the shoulders of giants – is still world-class and generation-defining.
The fact of the matter is that more people will see The Hateful Eight than will ever see that guitar in the flesh, and as the old saying goes: “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”. More people have now heard of Martin, know that they’ve been making guitars for ages, and are incredibly well made, valuable and sought after. Whether or not you find the destruction of antiquities offensive, the scene where Kurt Russell sends that guitar to the great gig in the sky has carved Martin’s name into our collective cultural consciousness.
To summarise: I believe that art shouldn’t be allowed to offend. Offence is the point of art. In the same way that Martin’s own “Dreadnought” guitar offended traditionalists in the 1920s because it was so damn loud, nothing new and important has ever happened without ruffling the feathers of the establishment and the general public. Kurt Russell, Tarantino et al should pat themselves on the back for a job well done.
That antique guitar is no longer an exhibit, it’s a legend. Which would you rather be?