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by Bill Gibron

15 Oct 2009

It will be quite a shock, especially for some parents. Hollywood has homogenized the family film to the point where expectations match artistic aspirations for a competing level of mediocrity. We no longer expect magic, but marketing, no longer believe in the ability of imagination and originality to lift us out of our seat and into a fantasy that only film can manufacture. Instead, it’s all fake finery, CG substituting for any semblance of invention or moviemaking mystery. It’s all an open book, 80 to 90 minutes of sheer time wasting reconfigured into a bunch of anticlimactic pop culture quips and short attention span inspired hyperactivity.

So when something like Where the Wild Things Are comes along, it raises a lot of interesting questions. After all, at its core, it’s a children’s film for those who are no longer young, a work of amazing insight and emotional weight aimed at the schoolyard but much more at home on the psychologist’s couch. It’s been interesting to watch the critical opinions on this long delayed Spike Jonze masterpiece (does that give this writer’s perspective away? Good!). Lines are being drawn, the ‘love it or loathe it’ determination supported by suspect arguments on both sides. Those who hate the handmade homage to the pains of childhood have found it dull, confusing, messy, and lacking author Maurice Sendak’s initial message (whatever that was). Others consider it a classic.

by AJ Ramirez

15 Oct 2009

The ravages of time eventually claim everyone, but it’s a sad fact that some talents go before others.  In light of the recent release of The Fountain, the eleventh album by the long-lived British post-punk group Echo and the Bunnymen, now is an appropriate occasion to ruminate on the premature loss of a great voice in rock music.  While still very much alive, head Bunnyman Ian McCulloch’s vocal talents have unfortunately diminished in recent years.  McCulloch long possessed a wondrous, powerful voice that rivaled that of U2’s Bono, but smoking, drinking, and age have clearly diminished what used to be an epic sound.

by Tyler Gould

15 Oct 2009

This 40-minute, Vincent Moon directed video follows the Scandinavian band around Copenhagen as they play through every song on their latest album, We’re on Your Side, which came out last month.

by Rob Horning

15 Oct 2009

Matt Yglesias noted the other day that no one but pundits watches cable news.

Just like traders have CNBC and Bloomberg on in their offices, political operatives are constantly tuned in to what’s happening on cable news. The result is a really bizarre hothouse scenario in which people are basically watching . . . well . . . nothing, but they’re riveted to it. How things “play” on cable news is considered fairly important even though no persuadable voters are watching it. And cable news’ hyper-agitated style starts to infect everyone’s frame of mind, making it extremely difficult for everyone to forget that the networks have huge incentives to massively and systematically overstate the significance of everything that happens.

You’d think it would be sensible if they all simply stopped watching, since hyper-agitation is in no policymaker’s best interest and it leads to superfluous and counterproductive commentary. With not enough organically occurring news to fill 24 hours, the news channels are becoming ongoing emotional barometers instead, but they are tuned only to themselves. They try to make news themselves with a variety of cooked-up debates and pseudoevents and that sort of thing, reporting on the import of their own reports—nothing new, as Daniel Boorstin’s 1961 book The Image demonstrates. It’s only a slight exaggeration to say that if you don’t watch TV news at all, you are better informed than those who do, even if you are completely ignorant. (At least then you are capable of a genuine response to something that you learn about.) The recursive meta-news that makes up cable news regarding what’s being talked and talked about on cable news just seems like information pollution.

Like Kevin Drum, I get virtually all of my news from online versions of newspapers and from blogs. I’m skeptical of TV news generally because I don’t like emotional presentations of news or pretentious newsreaders or phony objectivity (as though the choice of presenting a story isn’t subjective) or the oversimplification. Most “news” strikes me as attempts to regulate my mood—build my confidence in the government or the economy or undermine it, bludgeon me with scare tactics (“What item in your closet is slowly poisoning your infant? News at 11”) or feed me “human-interest” stories to, as Stewie Griffin might say, “make me smile.” Am I just weird in that I want news as neutral and unengaging as possible, that puts me in a state of suspended emotionality? I miss the old Wall Street Journal.

Anyway, this interview at Boing Boing with a health news watchdog, journalist Gary Schwitzer, whose organization gave up on trying to critique TV health stories, offers some perspective.

In the early days of CNN, we had this tremendous, exciting opportunity. The channel could be place to go in-depth with background and be analytical and contextual. But then the management side swung the other way and preferred to be the wire service of the air—take anything happening anywhere and report it with a quick turnaround.


If cable news simply was a wire service, that would not be so terrible, but when you pit three commercial would-be wire services against one another, we see what happens—noise.

by Tyler Gould

15 Oct 2009

If you find this, from Grand Archives’ sophomore album Keep in Mind Frankenstein, to your liking, you can stream the entire album at MBV.

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