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History and Significance of"La Vie Boheme"

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Natalie Samenuk

on 27 May 2015

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Transcript of History and Significance of"La Vie Boheme"

History and Significance of"La Vie Boheme"
History and Significance to "La Vie Boheme"
“To being an us for once/ instead of a them.” This may seem like a simple lyric, but for those living with HIV/AIDS, it is the difference between being treated like a human rather than a walking disease. In the time of the 1980s, so many people were terrified of the disease mainly because there was such a lack of knowledge yet such a fatal impact. Many believed it was God’s punishment against homosexuals, others believed it was the side effects to promiscuity. Many were quarantined, refused service, forced to live on the streets and even denied education (People Didn’t Want to Kiss You on the Cheek). Yet the musical Rent with its song about AIDS, “La Vie Boheme”, changed many standpoints of the disease. The song was not only an ode of addiction, homelessness or disease but an anthem for individuality.

In conclusion, “La Vie Boheme” is about individuality in a time where it was frowned upon, especially with suspicion of AIDS, homelessness or homosexuality. Lyrics such as, “To being an us for once/ instead of a them (La Vie Boheme Lyrics)” and “To sodomy/ it’s between God and me (La Vie Boheme Lyrics),” talk about being proud of oneself when all of society just wanted them to disappear. Hopefully with the help of this song, some of the irrevocable prejudice in the world today can be eradicated through understanding of human rights even in the face of deadly ailment.
“La Vie Boheme” is set after Maureen’s performance (the song “Over the Moon”) for homeless rights. There, Mark, Maureen, Joanne, Roger, Mimi, Collins, Angel and others find themselves at the Life Café where Benny, once a friend of Mark and Roger who is now planning on evicting them and wants to rid the streets of homelessness without any personal regard, is also dining. Out of the group, Mimi, Roger and Angel have AIDS. Benny then gloats that Bohemia is dead, then Mark, soon followed by others, refute this. At the end of the song, Mimi and Roger realize that the other has AIDS and tentatively begin their relationship (Song Meanings). The man who wrote Rent and “La Vie Boheme” was Jonathon Larson. He focused much of his work on multiculturalism, drug abuse and addiction and homophobia (PBS). Rent is mostly about everyday life with AIDS and homelessness and the prejudice that goes along with it. “La Vie Boheme” is a symbol for being an individual for those with AIDS and are suffering to go paycheck to paycheck where people like Benny are living ignorantly in the lap of luxury.
Natalie Samenuk
English 10 Honors
April 23, 2014
Supporting Factors
Yet many believe the song is about acceptance of religion due to the many references to Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism.
“Mark begins to stage a mock "funeral" for Bohemia and "La Vie Boheme". In doing so, he references the Christian nativity story ("On this night when we celebrate the birth. In that little town of Bethlehem...") and says that Bohemia is "(t)he late great daughter of mother earth..." which refers to another form of spirituality” (Religion in RENT).
Even though there is the prevalent aspect of religion in this song, the true message coincides with the musical in being proud of oneself with the prognosis of AIDS or the current economic situation.
Contradictory to what some believe, “La Vie Boheme” is truly about being oneself. “To being an us for once/ instead of a them,” talks about the “we and they” in society. So many were frightened of those with AIDS or suffered homelessness that they were compelled to ostracize them to great proportions. Yet all together, “La Vie Boheme” is about individuality in a time where economic and homophobic bigotry against AIDS was large.
"To being an us for once/ instead of a them"
“To being an us for once/ instead of a them (La Vie Boheme Lyrics)” This lyric talks about the distinctiveness in society. Again, the “we” and “they” is shown, and in the case of “La Vie Boheme”, the “we” are rich, ignorant scum and the “they” are those that are suffering through each way even if they are more selfless. At this time, being an individual was put down because if someone was too eccentric, they were seen to be gay and have AIDS (History of HIV). This song really focuses on artistic outlets to proclaim individuality.
"Why Dorothy and Toto/ went over the rainbow/ to blow off Auntie Em"
“Why Dorothy and Toto/ went over the rainbow/ to blow off Auntie Em (La Vie Boheme Lyrics)” These lyrics talk about how many people wanted to fly over the rainbow to a place where AIDS or homelessness did not exist. “La Vie Boheme” was the place that was over the rainbow. Poverty and disease did not exist during this song, but happiness that Bohemia and friends and love was alive. No one should be ashamed of who they are so long as they’re happy and have love in their life.
"To Sodomy/ it's between God and me"
“To Sodomy/ it’s between God and me (La Vie Boheme Lyrics). ” During this song, Maureen shares a kiss with her girlfriend Joanne and Collins with Angel. They proclaim in the song that they are all brothers and sisters. This shows that everyone is God’s children, and he does not judge those who are homosexual. If a person was gay during this time, they were thought to have AIDS and therefore ostracized from society. This group of friends included gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals; yet not one individual was judged from whom they want to be of whom they love, thus returning to the "over the rainbow" theme. Like said before, this was over the rainbow and love could be free.
"To no shame/ never playing the fame game"
“To no shame/ never playing the fame game (La Vie Boheme Lyrics).” This lyric talks about how people with AIDS or homeless do not want to be the center of attention, even though this is Mark’s documentary. They were publicized on the news because the epidemic was foreign and frightful. Because of this, antiAIDS and homophobic groups were fromed, shunning them from society, denying them education and even brutally attacking and killing them (History of HIV). The meaning behind this is that everyone is a human being regardless of their sexual orientation, economic status or especially debilitating diseases, such as AIDS.
Some believe that “La Vie Boheme” should be taken in a literal sense, which is that Bohemia is never truly dead, contradictory to Benny. Ideas, once planted, will never truly die and almost the entire song is references to those innovators in the Bohemian lifestyle. Others believe that it is a religious song, to its many references to Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism. Since the beginning of the song is referring to Bohemia as the “late, great daughter of mother earth,” and the lyric, “sodomy is between God and me (La Vie Boheme Lyrics)” people believe that it is solely about the acceptance of religion. I disagree because the song is about individuality and being proud of oneself during the prognosis of AIDS or economic stances. “Actual reality/ Act up/ FIGHT AIDS! (La Vie Boheme Lyrics).”
Work Cited
"History of HIV & AIDS in the U.S.." . Avert. Web. 8 Apr 2014. <http://www.avert.org/history-hiv-aids-us.htm>.
"La Vie Boheme Lyrics." METRO Lyrics. FINSTER & LUCY MUSIC, 2013. Web. 8 Apr. 2014. <http://www.metrolyrics.com/la-vie-boheme-lyrics-rent.html>.
"La Vie Boheme - Religion in RENT." La Vie Boheme - Religion in RENT. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2014.
Landau, Elizabeth. "HIV in the '80s: 'People Didn't Want to Kiss You on the Cheek'" CNN. Cable News Network, 25 May 2011. Web. 13 Apr. 2014.
PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2014.
"http://songmeanings.com/songs/view/129889/." Rent- La Vie Boheme. Song
Meanings, 2002. Web. 8 Apr. 2014. <http://songmeanings.com/songs/view/
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