Finally we reach the end of the Rock & Rule posts. These posts have already gotten the attention of those who remember the film and those discovering it through this series. If any new discoveries come up during the year the movie might be revisited but for now we’ll say goodbye to Omar and Angel.
In the post apocalyptic future, and is there any other kind, regular humans are long gone. Humanoid dogs, cats, pigs populate the world and live in cities like “Nuke York”. I think we know what happened along the way. Omar fronts a rock band with his friends and maligned girlfriend, Angel. They want their big break but Omar suffers from LSS. Lead Singer Syndrome. He can’t give up the spotlight to Angel, who desperately wants to sing. Thanks to a little bit of fate and circumstance, Angel takes the stage one night. This is much to Omar’s dismay, but also to Mok’s delight.
Mok is the biggest rock star in the world. In the script he was called “Mok Jagger”. He looks like Jagger and Bowie made a child after the Dancing in the Street video. Mok is tall, thin, scary, wiry, strong, manipulative, effeminate but also dripping masculinity. He is everything a rock god should be. Speaking of gods, Mok’s one goal is to find the voice. The voice which can raise a monster from another dimension which will destroy all good in the world and leave Mok in charge of it. Mok has gone through apprentice after apprentice to find the one with the right voice. Much like Prince. As luck would have it, Mok happens to be in house the fateful night Angel takes the stage.
Angel is abducted by Mok to do his bidding. She tries to stop him but Mok has been planning this for so long he thrwarts every attempt. Omar’s ego keeps him from admitting his true feelings over the loss of Angel. Once he admits what is in his heart it might be too late. The demon from another world is about to be summoned. Much like one song summoned it, one song can also put it away. However, the legend says no one voice can stop it. No one voice.
While Rock & Rule is over the top with anthropomorphic characters and a future wasteland plus all the rock n roll, it’s also a veiled morality play about the music industry.
It’s a tale of a young starlet plucked from small town obscurity by the big city star. She sees this possibility of fame and fortune as a way to elevate her friends and boyfriend. We got this far together and we’ll get to success together. But she is manipulated by those already in power. You’re the star. You’re the one with all of the talent. Meanwhile, Omar is content with control. He’s not only the lead singer, he’s the biggest fish in a puddle. He can be the best and have control within a very small world he inhabits. Control the band, control the music, control the girl. It works out until the first thing that comes along to challenge it.
Mok is the longstanding rock god who needs more. The most powerful drug in the world is fame, and he needs a bigger fix. The hit song, hit album, sold out arenas aren’t enough. He needs more. The rush of power is so tempting and demanding that it’s worth risking the entire world for that high.
The combination of rock and animation works wonders to get this message across. Not only in the actual words and images, but the mediums themselves. Rock is a voice of revolution. Counter culture, anti authority, question everything. But it can also be a voice of greed and corporations. There is no shortage of bands who had a message on the first album that is long gone by later records. From Gimme Shelter to Love is Strong.
Animation, much like comics, has historically been seen as unimportant and kids stuff. Thus, certain people aren’t paying attention and the animators can get away with much more than they could have in another medium. Social messages and putting a mirror up to society are easier to get made, and easier to swallow, if the words are coming from a character who was drawn and not born. Sci-fi and fantasy learned this trick from their inception.
The biggest strike Rock & Rule has against it has always been marketing. It was never given a wide release in any format and that hinders the audience for it. My hope in this entire 1983 project is to shine a light on treasures of the past like this one. There is no reason this movie shouldn’t be spoken of along side other cult classics like Monster Squad or Goonies.