Five Favorite Works of Art with Jon Cozart
Jon Cozart talks to us about classical music, internet videos, Lord of the Rings, and of course, musicals. Here are Jon's five favorite works of art: 1) Spring Awakening 2) Mozart's Requiem in D Minor, K. 626 . 3) The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King . 4) The "Tomorrow" soliloquy from Shakespeare's Macbeth . 5) History of Japan by Bill Wurtz
NARRATOR: This is Jon Cozart.
NARRATOR: This is Jon's workspace, featuring
his hyper organized, minimalist bulletin board,
but it's a multipurpose room.
It doubles as where I sleep and also where I work and cry.
NARRATOR: He may look familiar to you from his Disney
parodies, progressive Christmas carols, history
of classical music, or brutal takedown of YouTube
culture that he shared through his YouTube channel Paint,
but he hasn't been posting there lately.
Now I'm leaning into long form narrative
stuff like television, movies, and maybe musicals.
I have an existential crisis about it every day.
NARRATOR: We're not worried.
Jon is a super talented musician who
has many irons in the proverbial fire,
but to the matter at hand.
Here are five of my favorite works of art.
The musical "Spring Awakening."
NARRATOR: "Spring Awakening" is a rock musical
with book and lyrics by Steven Sater and music
by Duncan Sheik.
It debuted on Broadway in 2006, was a huge hit,
and has given rise to productions around the world.
"Spring Awakening" is this musical
about these kids who are coming of age in the 1800s.
NARRATOR: It's based on a play by Frank Wedekind,
completed in 1891, confronting the realities of teenagers
growing up in the very religious and sexually repressive
environment of late 19th century Germany.
It was hugely controversial and rarely performed at the time.
Back to you.
I don't want to say I was in 1800s Germany
or wherever the hell it's set, but I
was in the Bible Belt in the south,
and there were things about my life that I couldn't express.
Being an adolescent, it feels like nobody understands me,
like I'm experiencing something that literally
no one on the planet has ever experienced.
And then to have this musical reflect
my reality was shocking.
It was shocking to me.
Mozart's Requiem in D Minor.
If you listen to Mozart's music compared to Bach, or Beethoven,
or the other greats, he just sounds a lot more silly,
I guess, or like he's more of a theatrical presence.
NARRATOR: So then, why the Requiem?
Requiem is my favorite work by Mozart
because he was facing death when he wrote it,
and so it's look at the silly man who
has spent his entire career being sort of a rapscallion,
and then he has to write this requiem, which is like a death
march or a funeral march.
NARRATOR: Indeed, Mozart began composing the mass in 1791,
but it was unfinished when he died that same year.
Composer Franz Sussmayr completed it in 1792
based on Mozart's notes.
While the work was actually commissioned
by Franz von Walsegg to memorialize the count's wife's
recent passing, Mozart told his wife
he felt he was writing it for his own funeral.
And there's something so dramatic and so theatrical
And then if you look at the music
itself compared to other requiems, it's beautiful.
I don't-- I-- I don't know.
No work is more affecting to me.
NARRATOR: Should I just, like, download it
on iTunes or something?
If you have an opportunity to see
any piece of classical music live, you should go and see it,
especially Mozart's Requiem because it's
a choir of just a ton of people, and there are four soloists,
and there's this giant group of instruments,
and everybody is like--
they have their game face because it's
the quintessential dramatic piece that people play.
The movie "The Lord of the Rings the Return of the King."
This is the movie that taught me what storytelling epically was.
NARRATOR: How would you explain the plot
to, say, your grandmother?
JON COZART: It's a journey of a hobbit trying
to destroy the ultimate embodiment of evil.
There you go, grandma.
NARRATOR: OK, but why do you like it so much?
I mean, there's no doubt it's one of the most gorgeous movies
ever made, and certainly it was pushing the boundaries
of visual effects at the time.
It was inventing all this new technology
to make battles more epic.
NARRATOR: Released in 2003, "The Return of the King"
swept the 76th Academy Awards, winning best visual effects,
best art direction, and all 11 categories
for which it was nominated.
And it's-- it's a populist, entertaining, sludgefest.
It just is cheesy, and stupid, and really, really profound.
It defies description.
The tomorrow speech from Shakespeare's "Macbeth."
NARRATOR: Did we tell you how much Jon likes Shakespeare?
Anyway, the tragedy of "Macbeth" was written around 1606
and tells the story of a Scottish general, Macbeth,
who receives a prophecy that he will
become the King of Scotland.
He succeeds, but only through murder and mayhem that
wracks him with guilt and leads to his undoing, which
leads us to the soliloquy.
So it's in Act V. It's at the end of all things.
Basically this character Macbeth--
his wife has just committed suicide,
and all of his ambition has sort of gone to rot.
NARRATOR: Jon, would you do us the honor of reading it?
All right, so this is how it goes from the top.
"She should have died hereafter.
There would have been a time for such a word tomorrow,
and tomorrow, and tomorrow.
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day to the last syllable
of recorded time, and all our yesterdays of lighted fools
the way to dusty death.
Out, out brief candle.
Life is but a walking shadow, a poor player that
struts and frets his hour upon the stage
and then is heard no more.
It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
The end of this monologue, Macbeth is saying life
is like a person who is on a stage acting life.
It's just as hollow as a person who acts it in front of people,
and it's like this huge irony because obviously Macbeth
is played by an actor.
Shakespeare is a writer, and he wrote the actor
to talk about how life is like an actor playing a part.
And then after he comes off the stage, he's dead,
and then another actor will come on.
And it's just cyclical and stupid,
and it's a lot of noise.
It's a lot of sound.
It's a lot of fury, and ultimately it comes to nothing.
NARRATOR: And this is inspiring for you?
When I'm feeling depressed or things
are worthless or nothing, I can't put that into words.
I can't put--
I can't describe it, but this does it
because Shakespeare is a genius.
The fact that he could experience depression
in this way, and also get through it,
and dramatize it, and also do it in a setting
400 years ago in a hot day at the end of a three hour play
And it's super inspiring, even though it's
supposed to be depressing.
Bill Wurtz's "History of Japan."
NARRATOR: Bill Wurtz published this video to YouTube
on February 2, 2016, and it has since been viewed more than 31
In precisely nine minutes, he animates and narrates
the entire history of Japan.
So it's like a compilation of 400 vines
all having to do with Japan and its history.
It's really weird, and if I were to pitch that to you
and you'd never seen it, you would probably not go watch it.
It sounds dumbs.
NARRATOR: But it isn't dumb, and you should really
go watch it or rewatch it.
It's so perfect that--
that's-- I watch it every day.
What am I supposed to--
I can wake up, browse Twitter, or I
could watch "History of Japan" for the 100th time,
which, of course, I go watch "History of Japan."
NARRATOR: Deceptively simple, it's
much more than, in Jon's words, a garbage PowerPoint.
It's this piece of work that's distinctly internet friendly
and also does something that no other piece of art
has done before.
It's a product of its time like I
don't think most of YouTube is.
NARRATOR: So if "The History of Japan" is art,
how do you define a work of art?
To me, a work of art is a baring of some person's soul
that is emotionally affecting to the viewer.
So you make something so that someone else
can feel something.
That's a work of art.
NARRATOR: Thanks, Jon.
No, thank you guys.
This was fun.
Thanks for coming into my little house.