Vilifying or supporting the arts- U.S. vs. Norway

Quite an interesting contrast to see how the governments of two countries treat the entertainment biz. In Norway, they're trying to find out more about the people who produce the arts: Artist life to be studied.

"Culture Minister Trond Giske will use NOK 1 million (USD 151,600) to find out exactly what kind of living conditions artists have in modern Norway... Giske points out that a certain amount of artists go in and out of unemployment benefit schemes and so the state already uses some funds on them. He now wants to find other ways to help." Extraordinary, isn't it? If you were an artist, wouldn't you want to live in a country where your government is spending time and money to see what the best way for you to thrive is?

Meanwhile, in the ever-so-enlightened U.S.A., a congressional committee has decided to start up yet another study about "filth" in the arts: US Senate panel to examine decency issues November 29.

"The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee said on Tuesday it plans later this month to discuss indecent content aired on television to determine how to proceed on potential legislation to limit such material." This is being led by the same senator (Alaska Republican Sen. Ted Stevens) who puckers up to kiss the butt of big oil companies who are making record profits while prices have hit new high's. Great to see that our priorities are all in order. But more specifically, this is the same Republican party which keeps trying to kill off PBS and the NEA.

But wait a minute... it's also some Dems who are at fault here. Party leaders like Joe Lieberman and Hillary Clinton also like to score points by beating up on the entertainment industry. It's chic and an easy attention (and vote) getter to find bogeymen that are coming after the kids and perverting their minds. Pushing up FCC fines, making arbitrary rules about indecency and taking every howl from the Parents Television Council like it was law evidently isn't good enough. What they seem to want is to turn the clock to the early 1950's and live in an imaginary world have all of mainstream art is supposed to be G-rated and sanitized. They can fight against history but ultimately, this is a losing game.

Is it just a coincidence that Washington's attitude towards artists reflects its foreign policy? Attacking, punishing and stomping our will and ideals into others rather than trying to work with them hasn't been working too well. We need a change of mind or we stand to lose a lot and suffer for it.

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.