When a young person so idolizes an entertainer or athlete that they begin to imitate their lives, they are in spiritual danger.  Rather than developing a healthy sense of their own unique abilities, interests and skills, such a person sacrifices everything to live as an imitation.  This truth, in all its graphic and distasteful reality, is presented by Stephen Herek in his film “Rock Star.”

 The central character of the film is Chris Cole (Mark Wahlberg), a winsome and talented musician who has given himself to imitating the lead singer of a rock band.  Dressing like him, singing like him, memorizing his every move, Chris has created a tribute band to play their music.  But when his other band members want to grow beyond the imitation and begin singing their own music, Chris is devastated and creates a conflict that gets him kicked out of his own band.

 This film illustrates the relational fall-out of a person who has lost himself in trying to be someone he is not: the health of his friends reject his idolatry as toxic and decide to separate from him in order to find their own identity.

 However, what makes “Rock Star” interesting is that Chris is unexpectedly given the opportunity to not only imitate his idol, but to also replace him in the band.

 Not knowing that Bobby Beers (Jason Flemyng) is gay and is being rejected by the rest of the band, Chris is invited to audition as his replacement.  Having memorized every line of every song with the corresponding moves on stage, Chris is able to step in and be the “Rock Star” he so desired to be.

 At first, the experience is thrilling.  But his imagined paradise quickly exposes its hellacious reality.  Having been loved and supported by his childhood sweetheart and manager, Emily Poule (Jennifer Aniston), she leaves him when he begins to live the promiscuous life expected of a “star.”

 In scenes that graphically portray the degradation of his soul, Chris seems to be unaware of the sacrifice he is making.  Having replaced Emily’s love and companionship with an endless procession of nameless girls and drugged-out orgies,  he becomes an empty shell of a person.  His demeaning experience culminates when he works for weeks to write his own music and is told by the band that he is not allowed to write his own songs or even let his own personality come through in his interpretation of their music.  He realizes then that his life has become a facade,  a caricature of a lifeless idol whose emptiness is nevertheless worshipped by millions of fans.

 Unable to find love, dignity and self-respect in the morass of his fame, Chris seizes his freedom when he replaces himself on stage with a young man who can imitate him just as Chris did the singer before him.  An ingenious solution that reveals the impersonal nature of idolatry, Chris returns to his home in order to become who he was created to be.

 In a world where we become like those we idolize, the message of “Rock Star” is clear:  Be careful who you worship, for you may in fact become transformed into something you never expected.

Posted on June 1, 2011 and filed under 2 STARS, UNSETTLING.