The opening scene of the 2010 film Get Him to the Greek presents the eccentric band Infant Sorrow’s lead singer, Aldous Snow, engaging the camera in the filming of their music video for their new song “African Child (Trapped in Me)”. I will not go into the specifics of this satirical song, targeting Hollywood’s obsession with the adoption of those precious African children. I would like to rewind and focus on the name of this hysterical band, Infant Sorrow. Although I’ve seen this movie too many times to name (and not be publicly embarrassed), upon reading William Blake’s poem, this movie did not pop into my head. However, with this new lens with which to analyze the main character of this movie Aldous Snow, I can not help but continue to admire the work of Jason Segel (who created these characters) as well as Judd Apatow (the producer of this movie) for bringing William Blake the radical into today’s stoner dialogues.
When I think of Get Him to the Greek, I silently laugh to myself as I think of all of its stoner humor. By stoner, I mean easily understood by those who partake in the chemical of THC. When I think of William Blake’s Songs of Experience, while I definitely see an agenda behind them that may have been considered a counter-culture at his time, I do not see why he is labeled as a radical. However, I will give him the benefit of the doubt and delve into how William Blake helped me understand the ever-controversial Infant Sorrow (the band), especially through the character Aldous Snow. Blake’s poem Infant Sorrow is two stanzas, eight line rhyming poem. It tells the story of a infant who seems to have gotten loose from the grip of his parents and embarked into this dangerous world (if only for a matter of minutes). His father grabs hold of him, and swaddles him in cloth, which he tries to resist before succumbing and settling into his mother’s breast for a “snack.”
While I do not recall a scene in Get Him to the Greek where Aldous Snow snacks on any female parts (thank goodness), I would not feel bad comparing him to an infant. In the below clip, you can see his general lack of engagement as well as need for a stimulant.
While in the poem, Blake’s use of the word fiend most likely refers to an “evil spirit or demon” as defined by dictionary.com, in the context of today, it is more commonly used to refer to an addict of some sort. While I do not want to push meaning onto Blake’s work, this connection between a fiend and child-like behavior fights the personality of Aldous Snow’s personality perfectly.
Besides the obvious connection between fiend and drugs as well as the idea of the world being dangerous, for not just an infant but anybody thrown into it unprepared, the aspect of the poem that immediately made me connect it to this this band and the lead singer was the role of women in certain men’s lives, Aldous Snow being one of them. In the poem Infant Sorrow, the connection between mother and child seems stronger. When the baby gets a way, the mother merely groans while Blake describes the father as weeping, an indication that the mother is able to deal with the unruly behavior unlike the father. At the end, the mother in the end also calms the baby’s unruly behavior. In comparison, throughout the movie Aldous Snow seems to find refuge and sobriety when with women. He becomes sober after dating his girlfriend, and when she leaves him, he goes on a reckless bender only to reach out for her again throughout the movie, knowing this will calm him.
In the image on the William Blake Archive (shown below), a mother goes to console her fussy baby. While this image could be conjured up by the poem alone, when looking at the poem through the lens of Infant Sorrow’s lead singer, one can go even further and suggest a need for a mother’s love, even a woman’s love, in the unruly male’s life. If the naming of the band Infant Sorrow was a conscious decision of the writers, I admire their literary consciousness. If not, I am still grateful to Mr. Blake for providing me with a scholarly reason for watching this hilarious movie.