I think this film can best be explained by describing one scene: the movie fades from live footage of the band (playing "Lucky", my favorite song) into a bunch of press clippings about "OK Computer", most of them claiming to know exactly what the band was thinking behind each song. The pre-eminent (and least pretentious) one says something like this: You're a band. You release your third album, which you quite like. No big deal, that's what bands do. All of the sudden, you're being hailed as the saviors of rock n' roll. That is what this film is about. Almost overnight, Radiohead went from cult favorite to some and "that band that wrote "Creep"" to many, to rock n' roll gods. (Love the scene where they're playing "Creep" in Philly and Thom looks incredibly disinterested as he limply holds the mic to the crowd.) This film documents that journey via following them on their "OK Computer" tour.
The best scenes are those of the band being interviewed. Again, and again, and again, and again. At one point they play about 5 different clips of people asking "What does music mean to you?" back to back without playing the response. The point is not to give you some kind of insight into the band persay, but to show the effects of stardom on otherwise ordinary people who are not consumed with being stars.
Question after question starts to crack some members of the band. They are all very uncomfortable with their new found celebrity status, and it shows. One interviewer continually badgers Thom Yorke about all the celebrities attending their shows. "So you're not impressed when, say, Tom Cruise is at your concert?" Thom does not look (nor act) impressed and he then explains that in England they do not quite comprehend the god-like status given to celebrities here in America. In the end, celebrities are people like everybody else, just as fallible as you and me. (For some reason that scene reminded me of the Charles Barkely commercial where he said "I am not a role model.")
This film is about so much more than music, and that is what makes it amazing. It is about fame and celebrity, about the loss of privacy, about having to live up to unrealistic expectations from people who know next to nothing about you, yet they feel they understand where you're music is coming from completely. The title itself speaks volumes. Meeting people might be "easier" for the members of Radiohead now that they are famous, but what good is it if the people they are meeting are insincere phonies (for lack of a better term) who only want to meet them because they're Radiohead? Are you really meeting anybody worth your time? This DVD was not what I expected but I was more than pleasantly surprised. It seems fairly obvious why "Kid A" sounds as claustrophobic as it does after watching this documentary. If you're a band that went through this, you would make claustrophobic sounding music too.
"Meeting People Is Easy" shows how Radiohead deal with fans, awards, corporate drones from the label and even getting stopped by security backstage (even though Michael Stipe is with them... yep, they're THAT unassuming). They seem to go out of their way to behave nicely to all the reporters who ask them the stupidest questions imaginable (who ask ridiculous questions like "What is music to you?" and "There's no song called 'OK Computer' on the album...why?").
Gee seems to take to the Radiohead way of thinking right away; the camera angles and grainy picture add to the general weary, claustrophobic feeling the band must have been feeling. Touring the world, everybody in every city wants a piece of them and nobody's thinking about how sick and tired of the whole thing the band must be.
In typical Radiohead fashion, "Meeting People Is Easy" is a bit dreary, but with good reason; you'd feel wiped out, too, if you had to deal with all the ridiculousness of touring like they did. Now I know why, at the end of that show at Madison Square Garden, Thom remarked that they were "going home now".
If you are a fan, this DVD is necessary! It gives so much insight to the OK Computer album and the band members. Read more