Study Guide

This Is Spinal Tap Art and Culture

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Art and Culture

All right, so first let's get one thing out of the way. Spinal Tap's music is art. It may not be your cup of tea, but the fact remains that the band's music is a form of artistic expression, as valid as any other. Mozart, Bach, Mach, Spinal Tap—no distinction whatsoever.

Okay, so it's art. But is it good art? Depends. In the realm of rock and roll music, you can probably argue that it ain't exactly Grammy-worthy (although the reconstituted real-fake band was nominated for two Grammys in 2009). But what about in the realm of comedy? On that count, it's pure, undeniable gold. And since that's the spirit in which it was intended, we can probably consider the music of This is Spinal Tap as examples of some very fine art.

Roll over, Beethoven.

Questions About Art and Culture

  1. How did the band's music reflect the cultural changes from the 60s to the 80s?
  2. For a lot of artists, it's about leaving a legacy. Do you think Spinal Tap would be content to disband as long as they were remembered decades afterward?
  3. What does the film suggest about how the business aspect of the music industry works or doesn't work with the artistic side?

Chew on This

Spinal Tap's music isn't art. If you can't argue that something possesses beauty, then it can't be art.

The real art of the film is in its dead-on parody of heavy metal and rock documentaries.

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