Friday, October 24, 2014

links for the weekend, on arts and craft

Over at The Atlantic Christopher Orr is not entirely looking forward to Whedon's next Marvel film.

Once The Avengers crossed the gazillion-dollar line in global box office, it was a fairly safe bet that director Joss Whedon was going to have a lot of latitude when it came to the sequel. That's both a good thing and a bad thing. A good thing, because Whedon is among the most witty, innovative pop-culture artists working today. And a bad thing, because he is often not content with being witty and inventive, and has a long history of steering his projects in unnecessarily—and often unsatisfactorily—dark directions. For many of his fans, this represents a great strength; in my estimation it is his signal weakness.

Perhaps this could be compared to Phil Collins, who went from No Jacket Required to But Seriously ... to comparable effect? Perhaps the trouble with a wit is that when the wit turns to real irony (dramatic rather than linguistic) it can seem a bit forced?  As more a former than a current Whedon fan Orr's case seems persuasive but brown shirts may dissent.

Meanwhile, the Atlantic has featured a few pieces on the kink in Wonder Woman's origins and originators.  Here and here. Wondy's getting her own feature length film lined up which is a bit more than, for the moment, can be said about Marvel.  Then again ... Marvel studios has this villain problem.  We can't count the actually fun villains in films based on Marvel comics because Bryan Singer and Sam Raimi have made films that Marvel-ites don't concede as existing in the Marvel cinematic universe proper.  So it doesn't matter that Magneto and Doctor Octopus were a ton of fun to watch on the silver screen, Marvel Studios films proper have only produced one decent rogue, Loki.

"Indicting Higher Education in the arts and beyond", here's a short teaser.
Our higher education system is producing a vast quantity of workers with educations and expectations for high-level and high-paying jobs that simply do not exist in the quantity needed to employ all these people.

Wenatchee The Hatchet was advised to consider grad school and considered it but the most probably program was one that categorically refused to accept any prospective student who didn't already have a BFA.  Schools out of state were categorically beyond consideration and getting a BFA after already paying off the loans for a non-BFA seemed like a worthless idea.  It's possible, by dint of writing music unusual enough, to end up getting mentioned in doctoral dissertations whether or not you've gotten an undergraduate degree in music from an American school.  If memory serves that was how it played out for Brahms. ;)

Switching musical genres a bit, here's a little feature on why you might have some trouble finding selections of Leadbelly and what's involved in the preservation of old audio recordings.

Iggy Pop was none too thrilled with that stunt U2 pulled earlier this year. At Jacobin Alexander Billet muses that Bono's neoliberalism is a problem (this online magazine features stuff by Howard Zinn so be advised).  But the conclusion is that U2 hasn't put out a decent album since, oh, the Reagan administration.

It is memory without purpose. Nostalgia for nostalgia itself. A nondescript sense of longing self-referenced and reprocessed and redistributed for the thousandth time.

It's interesting how just about folks who might seem to be to the left, right, and center(ish) of the political/economic spectrum on some issues who are in the arts world can't stand Jeff Koons.  Who's to blame them.

Though hid behind the New Yorker's paywall, there's been some musing on whether Beethoven's influence was bad for concert music.

HT to the friends over at Mockingbird
for this, about how streaming music has altered the element of social interaction about music consumption

Certainly, this reasoning lay at the core of my indie identity. But when nerds figured out how to play music over the Internet, it rendered indie culture inert. The shift away from physical albums destroyed that mechanism of consumer individuation. When getting into a band became as easy as typing its name into a search box, particular musical tastes lost their function as signifiers of commitment. What you listened to ceased to be a measure of how much you cared and became a mere list of what you liked.

Worse, this list was no more ethically righteous than anyone else’s. You didn’t have to support local businesses or hang with freaky beatniks to hear Choking Victim anymore, so liking them became no better (or worse) than liking Pearl Jam.
Ho, ho!  Not so.  That identity comes through consumption can still be attacked head on as the inherent problem in and of itself.  Thus ... (again) at Jacobin, we can read a fusillade against gamer culture:
All of this comes with the usual caveats. It’s all right to enjoy video games. I love a lot of video games. I suspect that I’ll love new ones in the years to come. But to define oneself by media consumption is not just unhealthy, it’s vacuous. To do so is to go beyond the necessary distractions from the real world’s tedium and travails. It’s a demand for a Huxley-esque perpetual childhood.

Gamers won’t die because there will always be, in capitalism, people who define themselves by what they buy. When their imaginary identity politics are challenged, they’ll lash out, angrily, with as much vitriol as they can muster.

Lest certain Christians suppose they're too good for this kind of thing we recently witnessed the resignation of a megachurch pastor who reportedly said "I am the brand".  Christians can be even worse about this stuff precisely because they think they're better and because they have niche-targeted variations.  Think of Mark Driscoll as Dan Savage if he became fundy and, well, there's a niche market for that, too. Now that the father figure image has apparently been taken up and jettisoned inside of a single year Driscoll's bailed on the church he's previously described like a daughter and has, within the confines of his own metaphors, become a deadbeat dad.  When dad and mom are having an argument the kids don't need to know all the details, even if dad just left over the weekend to go spend time with a trophy girlfriend who doesn't know as much about his home life?  Maybe ...

Driscoll has spent the last decade preaching via jumbo screens so he's functionally been a televangelist rather than a pastor for quite some time.  Whatever may happen next the industries that have made Driscoll the star he's become have not received any significant scrutiny so the star-making apparatus itself can simply find a way to rebrand him.  Maybe now that he's unmoored from any pseudo-Reformed trappings he can stop being a "charismatic with a seatbelt" and just dive into the deep end of the pool the likes of Jakes or Todd Bentley swim in.  Anyway ... there's a bunch of stuff to peruse at your leisure for the weekend.

But by and large, as you saw, this post was more about music.  Wenatchee's going to try to get back to writing about music ... and cartoons ... some time.

Maybe 2015.

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