• Broadway Beat

I Told My Landlord I Wouldn’t Be Watching “Rent” This Month & It's Clear I've Misunderstood

by Zach Raffio. @zachraffio.

NEW YORK, NY - In the wake of mass layoffs and an all-time unemployment high due to spread of COVID-19, people nationwide are refusing to watch the hit movie-musical Rent for the entire month of April. While I’m not sure how this will help anyone’s money issues (maybe not having to pay $2.99 rental?), I too decided to join the movement, texting my landlord that I, firmly, would not be watching the musical at all this month - leading me to realize that I have gravely misunderstood the entire situation.


“What? I don’t care what you watch. Just mail me your check by the 5th,” texted back my landlord. “Also, stop singing and clapping on your fire escape every night. It’s not a balcony, and it’s facing the garbage shoot. The entire city is not going to join you,” he added. This is what democracy looks like.


I reached out to several rent freeze advocacy groups to share my story of financial independence.


“Why would you think that made a difference?” questioned Michaela Samson, head of the Brooklyn Community Project. “We’re talking about people who literally don’t have jobs to pay their rent this month, and are in an unprecedented moment for our city and country as a whole. Also, you still have a full-time job. You’re calling me right now from the iPhone Pro 11 your job gave you.”


Even though I clearly did not comprehend what people were doing and honestly still kind of don’t, I had already felt it necessary to get the word out -- hanging up over 200 “Don’t Light My Candle” posters around the five boroughs, which I thought was pretty clever. Some other city residents agreed with my bout of economic activism.


“You’re making a huge difference and I’m proud of you,” said Maureen Pender, my employer and also my mother. “I think everyone should be ‘stan’-ing you instead of Andrew Cuomo. I can’t believe I’m the mother of a revolutionary - viva la not watching Rent!” She then took a long, long nap in the sun room of our eight-story Carroll Gardens high-rise.


So, there you have it. In this time of economic and healthcare uncertainty, it’s important to remember that you must protect the stability that you can control - whether that be paying hundreds to thousands of dollars for a home in one of the the country’s most expensive cities, or not streaming the 2005 film adaptation of Rent or any other version, even though I just realized the movie’s on Hulu and my cousin Braniford has an account. This is what democracy looks like.