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Watch the Tunes: Color Me Obsessed

On July 1, 2016

There is an absurdly vast selection of music movies and documentaries available on Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, and on and on and on. But it’s hard to tell which ones are actually worth your 100 minutes. Watch the Tunes will help you pick what music doc is worth your Netflix and Chill time every weekend. This week’s edition covers Color Me Obsessed: A Film About The Replacements, which is streaming over on Amazon.

It’s pretty damn ballsy to make a documentary about a band and not include any interviews with or footage of that band, but somehow it’s a perfect fit for Color Me Obsessed: A Film About The Replacements. How do you cover a band that never took the easy way out of anything? Well, you tie one hand behind your own back as a filmmaker and see what happens, I guess. In this case, the constraint (a means of saving money, maybe?) results in a uniquely affecting film that has to be seen to be believed, and you should definitely check it out.

Being a tried and true fan of a band can be an intense experience, and few bands dragged the people who loved them through such extreme highs and lows as the Replacements. You need not look any further for evidence of that than the way some of the band's’ biggest backers talk about the group in the interviews that make up Color Me Obsessed. You get the feeling that a trauma that was inflicted, delivered in the form of squandered potential, and everyone who’s on screen has processed it only to varying degrees. Every show where a major label rep happened to be in the audience that turned to shit, every hundred dollar bill that they literally set fire to, that time they got banned from SNL after destroying the dressing room and on and on. To be a fan of the band and root for them to succeed was to tolerate a certain amount of abuse. For every one of the low points, though, there were stratospheric highs that made it all worthwhile. I mean, these are the guys who gave the world "Can’t Hardly Wait", "Kiss Me On The Bus," and "Unsatisfied", so the level of shit you let yourself take from them was going to rightfully be a bit higher than usual.

I think that the most telling quote from the doc, delivered by none other than former MTV VJ Matt Pinfield, was this: “They never knew what their charm was but they knew it had something to do with the fact that they didn't give a shit.” A huge part of punk rock is embracing the freedom of not giving a shit, but the Replacements took that sense of abandon to a  whole other level, ultimately using “not giving a shit” as a defense mechanism. While it’s true that Midwestern bands are prone to be heavy drinkers, the Replacements (from Minneapolis, Minnesota) took it to another level, practically weaponizing pitchers of Grain Belt as a means of self-sabotage. One fan, Jeff Corbett, says of having seen one particularly blotto performance, “It’s sad... They're too great to be that drunk.”

One of the most fascinating things about Color Me Obsessed is the insane breadth of fans that director Gorman Bechard has amassed here. I mean, rock critic Robert Christgau makes sense, and so does Tommy Ramone (I suppose), but then folks like Cheers star George Wendt, former kid-in-the-hall Dave Foley, and holy shit is that Tom Arnold(?!) show up unexpectedly, each with some interesting little tale to tell, and you start to get the feeling that you’re dealing with a band that was uniquely special for anyone who gave them the time of day. Hell, even Jon Stewart’s name (Backbar Jon!) gets dropped into the mix out of the blue. Another heads up worth mentioning is that Color Me Obsessed has one of the greatest talking-head descriptors I’ve ever seen in a documentary, so make sure to keep your eyes peeled for “Bill Schneck: Basic Middle Aged Family Guy.”

In focusing entirely on stories from the fans of the Replacements, Color Me Obsessed presents the history of the band, warts and all, from a hundred different angles. Every person who showed up to toss in their two cents here reveals the complex emotions that go into giving yourself over to loving a band that had so much potential but just couldn’t quite keep it together long enough. You don’t get the sense that anyone regrets the decision to fall in love with the music, but everyone got maybe more than they bargained for in the best way possible.

Profile Picture of Chris Lay
Chris Lay

Chris Lay is a freelance writer, archivist, and record store clerk living in Madison, WI. The very first CD he bought for himself was the Dumb & Dumber soundtrack when he was twelve and things only got better from there.

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