chapter  6
14 Pages

Is Car Wash a Black Musical?: Richard Dyer

It would seem on the face of it odd not to consider Car Wash a musical. If, in John Russell Taylor's inclusive definition, a musical is "a film which . . . has its shape, its movement, its whole feeling dictated by music" (Taylor 1971: 10), then few films deserve the label as much as Car Wash. Both in terms of its relations of production and consumption, and as text, music is its determining raison d' etre. Like Top Hat, Easter Parade or Cabaret, it was made to be sold on the strength of its songs and its singers, of "Car Wash," "You Gotta Believe," and "I Wanna Get Next to You," of Rose Royce and the Pointer Sisters. Like music videos, it was set up in part to sell the album of its numbers, and indeed a couple of years ago was rereleased (in Britain) as a music video. Equally, as text Car Wash is from start to finish organized by its music, with its narratives, characters and dialogues set to the tracks on the disco dance station KGYS.