Thursday, March 28, 2013

Der Spiegel: Mao's Disneyland -- 'Red Tourism' Is Golden for Chinese Economy

Mao's Disneyland: 'Red Tourism' Is Golden for Chinese Economy
By Sandra Schulz
Der Spiegel

China's leaders have responded to waning interest in ideology by setting up a vast "red tourism" industry. While celebrating the great members and moments of the Communist Party of China, it also helps the economy.

Wu Yongtang's great advantage is having a mole on his chin almost exactly where Mao Zedong did. The 56-year-old actor pulls at the bandage covering the spot, then carefully peels it off and touches the scab with his fingertip. He saw a doctor to have the size of the mole reduced, and now it is exactly as large Mao's was. Wu is pleased. He looks like Mao, he speaks like Mao and his mole might be his ticket to landing movie roles as Mao. There's demand for Mao look-alikes in China -- and especially now. "People have deep feelings for the chairman," Wu says.

Wu spent a full theater season playing Mao at the open-air theater in Yanan, a city in central China described locally as the "Holy Land of the Chinese Revolution." Yanan is where the Long March ended in 1935, the military retreat that marked Mao's ascent to power, and where the Communist Party of China established its headquarters for the province of Shaanxi. Every morning, visitors can watch a performance here called "The Defense of Yanan," complete with fake tanks and real horses. A model airplane even drops from the sky at the end of the show, a moment captured by all the mobile-phone cameras of audience.

The Chinese government has dubbed this "red tourism," and it is meant as a response to its people's identity crisis, to a certain sense of emptiness and alienation. What exactly should people in China believe in these days? Who is really still interested in ideology? Taking a proactive approach to these questions, the Communist Party decided to put its own history on stage to create reminders of the revolution in various places around the country -- and to make clear to all Chinese citizens who made their country great. The government has also set up a "National Coordination Group for Red Tourism" and convened "Conferences for Red Tourism" that have even been attended by a member of the Politburo.

But one thing sets this approach apart from similar campaigns in the past. This time, the idea is for Chinese people to have fun with their political party, to enjoy themselves in the great amusement park of Communism. They're invited to feast on braised pork, Mao's favorite dish, in the leader's birthplace of Shaoshan. They can drink from the well Mao himself supposedly dug in Ruijin or carry fake rifles aboard a rollercoaster at the "Cultural Park of the Eighth Route Army," where they can re-enact the war against Japan. There have even been "National Red Games," including events such as "storming the log house" and a "grenade toss." Party training centers and companies send members to these destinations as part of educational holidays. China saw over half a billion "red tourists" in 2011 alone.

To Read the Rest of the Article

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Anjali Pandey: The Million Dollar Question: How Do You Sell English on the Silver Screen? - A Socio-Linguistic Analysis of Slumdog Millionaire

The Million Dollar Question: How Do You Sell English on the Silver Screen? - A Socio-Linguistic Analysis of Slumdog Millionaire
by Anjali Pandey
Americana



Introduction

Years ago authors Barnet and Cavanagh portended: “The new world economy rests largely on global bazaars” (15). Today, India is a major economic promontory in the voyage of western filmic expansion into the East. As a “movie-mad country” (Chopra 18), with its own yearly production output of “over a thousand movies in Mumbai alone” (Beaufoy, Boyle and Feld 142) - numerically translated as “3 billion movie tickets per annum” (Lakshmi 8) - Bollywood unlike Hollywood boasts a 13% increase in movie ticket sales since 2007 (Chopra 18). Film scholars have for years tracked the so-called “economic moribundity” (Cowen 73) of European cinema. In contrast, “India’s film industry, now at $2.2 billion, is estimated to grow to 3.3 billion by 2013” (Lakshmi 8).

Cowen claims that the "English language, combined with America’s role as a world leader, has strengthened Hollywood exports” (75). In India, the linguistic “legacy of English” (Bhatia and Baumgardner 384) makes the economic venture eastward into “the prized Indian market” (Tyrrell 260) a viable option as increasing economic research confirms that “the global market has generated more dependable returns than the local market” (Dissanayake 405). Esteemed linguist, David Crystal calls India “a linguistic paradise” (173) with “a special place in the record books” as a country with “the largest English-speaking population in the world” (173) at “350 million speakers” (173). This figure is “far more than the combined English-speaking populations of Britain and the USA” (173). Two decades ago in a comprehensive analysis of Hollywood versus Bollywood, Tyrrell claimed that “Hollywood has not defined what makes a film work in India” (260). Twenty years later, Slumdog Millionaire has demonstrated that when it comes to “the battle of the dream factories” (Tyrrell 260), “Hollywood’s colonization of Bollywood” (Tyrrell 272) can indeed be achieved via a twin strategy of linguistic and cultural syncretism.

The filmic genius of Slumdog Millionaire lies in the meticulous manner in which the hybridity of language and lore of both West and East have been glocalized to suit “the viewing tastes and linguistic preferences” (Bhatia and Baumgardner 380) of cross-continental audiences. Film critics are unanimous in their praise: “Slumdog Millionaire is the film world’s first globalized masterpiece” (Morgenstern 1) raves the economically savvy Wall Street Journal. How did Slumdog Millionaire do it? The answer lies in the innovative use of verbal and visual English as cinematic strategy - as “an aural and visual spectacle” (Garwood 174) within the “diegetic space of film” (Garwood 179). Visual English consistently dominates screen-space in Slumdog. The film’s economic and aesthetic genius rests on the nuanced, multiplex manner in which visual English “functions in the ever-evolving techno-aesthetic space of cinema” (Dissanayake 406) - as a filmic device which reflects at the very same time as it sustains a place for global English evanescence. The effective incorporation of tokenized Hindi in the movie as a vehicle for highlighting verbal and visual English is accomplished in and through a plethora of potent filmic strategies including but not limited to: spotlighting, achieved via filmic prominence given to visual English; synchronization, accomplished via a savvy glocalization of tokenized local linguistic content in the service of linguistically dominant global interests; spectacularization, realized via an intelligent use of selective adaptation strategies which simultaneously translate and transliterate "Indian figurehead" novel-writing and music-making potential into globally appealing cultural products, and finally, syncretization - filmmaking strategies which “utilize an economic and cultural dynamic that combines both commercialism and creativity” (Cowen 101) - four cultural production strategies which use the local to sell the global. All four strategies are detailed below.

To Read the Rest of the Essay

Monday, March 25, 2013

Radio Open Source -- Dennis Lehane: Between Dorchester Ave and Sunset Boulevard

Dennis Lehane: Between Dorchester Ave and Sunset Boulevard
Radio Open Source



Dennis Lehane so rules the neighborhood of Noir (“Nwaaah,” as we say in Boston) that he gets street credit for work he didn’t write, like “The Departed” and “The Town.” But does the author of “Mystic River,” “Gone Baby Gone” and the new Moonlight Mile get credit enough for a body of artistic work now far beyond private-eye or “genre” of any kind — way beyond his gift for Boston-accented dialog?

Our conversation is about the murkier depths of his Gothic novel and movie “Shutter Island,” with Leonardo diCaprio as a U.S. Marshall apparently trapped in a Boston Harbor lock-up for the criminally insane in the 1950s. I think it’s Lehane’s version of the War on Terror. He says it’s more nearly his answer to the Patriot Act, his reliving of the Cold War and the repressions it licensed in America. “All past is prologue,” he remarks. “Noir is without a doubt the ultimate genre of ‘you cannot outrun the past’… That’s ‘Mystic River’: you cannot outrun your nature. You cannot escape the past.” “Shutter Island” in that sense turns out to be Dennis Lehane’s recapitulation of McCarthyism (an American Stalinism): those good old days when the CIA experimented with LSD and other psychotropic drugs on Federal prisoners and other unsuspecting guinea pigs. It was a time, he’s saying, that foreshadowed the suspension of habeas corpus and the tortures of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib in the George Bush years.

To Read the Rest of the Introduction and to Listen to the Episode

Friday, March 22, 2013

Criterion Celebrates Akira Kurosawa's Birthday By Making 24 of His Films Available Free-of-Charge on Hulu (through March 24)

[MB: Kurosawa fans -- tomorrow is the great filmmaker's birthday and to celebrate Criterion has made all 24 of his films that they have released available on Hulu to non-subscribers for free (ends sunday). For my students, watch one and report back to me with your response -- I'll give you extra credit.]

Celebrate Akira Kurosawa’s March 23 birthday with Hulu and the Criterion Collection. Until midnight on Sunday, all twenty-four of the legendary Japanese director’s films on Hulu are free of charge to nonsubscribers (with commercial interruptions, and only in the U.S.). It’s a great opportunity to watch both the iconic classics, like Rashomon, Seven Samurai, and Yojimbo, and lesser-known but enormously moving gems such as No Regrets for Our Youth, One Wonderful Sunday, and Dodes’ka-den. Also available is Kurosawa’s beautiful final film, Madadayo, not on Criterion Blu-ray or DVD.


Criterion: Kurosawa on Hulu

Bluegrass Film Society: Summer 2013

[MB: generally scheduled two weeks in advance]


5/13: John Dies At the End (USA: Don Coscarelli, 2012: 99 mins) [Requested by Laura W.]

5/20: River trip planned ... no film

6/3: Gangs of Wasseypur, Pt. 1 (India: Anurag Kashyap, 2012: 160 mins) [Screened over 2 nights]

6/10: Gangs of Wasseypur, Pt. 2 (India: Anurag Kashyap, 2012: 160 mins)

6/17: The Marriage of Maria Braun (West Germany: Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1979: 129 mins)

6/24: Alice in the Cities (West Germany: Wim Wenders, 1974: 110 mins)

7/1: Wuthering Heights (UK: Andrea Arnold, 2011: 129 mins)[Requested by Laura W.]

7/8: Alamar (Mexico: Pedro González-Rubio, 2009: 73 mins)

7/15:

7/22:

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Democracy Now: Dying Iraq War Veteran Tomas Young Explains Decision to End His Life

Exclusive: Dying Iraq War Veteran Tomas Young Explains Decision to End His Life
Democracy Now

In the week marking the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, we spend the hour looking at the remarkable life and imminent death of Iraq War veteran Tomas Young. Citing his overwhelming physical pain from wounds that left him paralyzed in Iraq, Young recently announced he has decided to end his life by discontinuing his medicine and nourishment, which comes in the form of liquid through a feeding tube. Young joins to explain his decision from his home in Kansas City, along with his wife Claudia Cuellar. We’re also joined by Phil Donahue, the legendary TV talk show host, whose 2007 documentary, "Body of War," follows Tomas’ rehabilitation and his political awakening to become one of the most prominent antiwar U.S. veterans speaking out against the invasion and occupation of Iraq. "I am, on one hand, sick and tired of being sick and tired," Young says. "And on the other, I don’t want to watch my body waste away." Donahue calls Tomas’ announcement "a very unusual act of moral courage. He wants people to see this, because he came home from the most sanitized war of my lifetime. We don’t see this. But less than 5 percent of us, maybe 1 percent ... have made a personal sacrifice for this war. And Tomas is one of them."

Guests:

Tomas Young, Iraq War veteran and the main subject of the documentary, Body of War. On April 4, 2004, his fifth day in Iraq, Young’s unit came under fire in the Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad. Young was left paralyzed, never to walk again. Released from medical care three months later, Young returned home to become an active member in Iraq Veterans Against the War. He recently announced that he will stop his nourishment, which comes in the form of liquid through a feeding tube — a decision which will hasten his death.

Phil Donahue, one of the best-known talk show hosts in U.S. television history, his show was on the air for more than 29 years. In 2002, he returned to the airwaves, but he was fired in 2003 on the eve of the war by MSNBC because he was allowing antiwar voices on the air. Along with Ellen Spiro, he directed the documentary, Body of War, which tells the story of Tomas Young, an Iraq War veteran paralyzed from a bullet to the spine. Now, at the age of 33, Tomas has decided to end his life.

Claudia Cuellar, the wife and primary caregiver of Tomas Young.

To Watch the Episode

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Take (Canada/Argentina: Avi Lewis, 2004: 87 mins)

Description from: http://thetake.org/index.cfm?page_nam...

In suburban Buenos Aires, thirty unemployed auto-parts workers walk into their idle factory, roll out sleeping mats and refuse to leave.

All they want is to re-start the silent machines. But this simple act - The Take - has the power to turn the globalization debate on its head.

In the wake of Argentina's dramatic economic collapse in 2001, Latin America's most prosperous middle class finds itself in a ghost town of abandoned factories and mass unemployment. The Forja auto plant lies dormant until its former employees take action. They're part of a daring new movement of workers who are occupying bankrupt businesses and creating jobs in the ruins of the failed system.

But Freddy, the president of the new worker's co-operative, and Lalo, the political powerhouse from the Movement of Recovered Companies, know that their success is far from secure. Like every workplace occupation, they have to run the gauntlet of courts, cops and politicians who can either give their project legal protection or violently evict them from the factory.

The story of the workers' struggle is set against the dramatic backdrop of a crucial presidential election in Argentina, in which the architect of the economic collapse, Carlos Menem, is the front-runner. His cronies, the former owners, are circling: if he wins, they'll take back the companies that the movement has worked so hard to revive.

Armed only with slingshots and an abiding faith in shop-floor democracy, the workers face off against the bosses, bankers and a whole system that sees their beloved factories as nothing more than scrap metal for sale.

With The Take, director Avi Lewis, one of Canada's most outspoken journalists, and writer Naomi Klein, author of the international bestseller No Logo, champion a radical economic manifesto for the 21st century. But what shines through in the film is the simple drama of workers' lives and their struggle: the demand for dignity and the searing injustice of dignity denied.

___________

In general, this documentary shows A) how neo-liberal politics can utterly destroy a country and B) how syndicalist and anarchist concepts can work today. (Which are exactly the concepts behind the resistance, although they seldom call themselves anarchist they certainly achieve what anarchists have been striving for for generations.)


















Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols - The Bull Market: Political Advertising

The Bull Market: Political Advertising
by Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols
Monthly Review

...

For Americans born after 1950, and for those born before 1950 but with faltering memories, the televised commercial deluge that now defines American political campaigns likely seems the natural order of things, for better or for worse.2 But American campaigns were significantly different in the 175 years before political advertising, specifically television political advertising, became the order of the day. When one reads Theodore White’s epic The Making of the President series, especially for 1960 and 1964, the emerging role of television is a recurring theme—but TV political advertising is barely present in the early 1960s volumes. By White’s account, Nixon paid virtually no attention to his Madison Avenue advisors throughout his unsuccessful 1960 presidential campaign.3 Joe Klein recounts how his research shows that in the 1950s and ‘60s candidates routinely hired advertising experts and pollsters, “But these were peripheral advisers; they didn’t run the campaigns.”4

This quickly changed. In 1969 Joe McGinniss published his groundbreaking The Selling of the President, to chronicle what he termed “a striking new phenomenon—the marketing of political candidates as if they were consumer products.” The book, which involved McGinniss spending time with Nixon’s television advertising advisors including Roger Ailes during the 1968 presidential campaign, seemed shocking and a sharp departure from the political-driven campaign narratives provided by the likes of White. McGinniss documented how Nixon came to rely upon TV political commercials, based on Madison Avenue marketing principles, as the foundation of his campaign. In the book Ailes presciently concludes immediately after the November victory, “This is the beginning of a whole new concept. This is it. This is the way they’ll be elected forevermore.”5 It is ironic that today, when one reads the book, it seems downright quaint, even homespun, in comparison to subsequent elections. The liberal McGinniss is able to wander through the corridors of power in Nixon’s campaign like a serendipitous hippie roaming around at Woodstock. The narrative reminds one of the Dr. Evil character in the Austin Powers film who returns to life in 1997 after being frozen for thirty years, and then threatens to blow up the world unless he is given his ransom demand of…one million dollars.

Consider also The Candidate, a 1972 film about a young idealistic California candidate for a U.S. Senate seat, starring Robert Redford. The film, with a screenplay by a former Eugene McCarthy speechwriter, dealt with the phoniness and superficiality that marketing and television had brought to political campaigns. It was provocative and controversial and contributed to subsequent debates about the role of money in politics. TV political advertising plays an important role in the piece and is cast in a negative light. But what is ironic is that the TV ads Redford’s character airs in the fictional campaign are closer to Lincoln’s Gettysburg address in tone and substantive content than they are to the asininity that typifies political ads of more recent vintage. Ads of that caliber today would have political scientists and pundits shouting from the mountaintops that we were free at last. But in 1972 such ads were considered highly suspect and part of the problem.

As it was, by 1972 the total amount spent for all races on television political advertising, and that so alarmed McGinniss, Redford, and the nation—from President and House and Senate to governorships, mayors, state legislatures, referenda, initiatives and city council, the works!—had increased almost fourfold from 1960 to reach $37 million.6 That would amount to approximately $200 million in 2012 dollars; so, factoring for inflation, the 1972 election spent less than 3 percent of what will be spent on TV political ads in the 2012 election cycle.

For a concrete example, in 1972, a little-known Colorado Democrat, Floyd Haskell, spent $81,000 (roughly $440,000 in 2010 dollars) on television advertising for a campaign that unseated incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Gordon Allott. The figure was dramatic enough to merit note in a New York Times article on Haskell’s upset win. Fast-forward to the 2010 Senate race, when incumbent Colorado Democrat Michael Bennet defeated Republican Ken Buck. The total spent on that campaign in 2010 (the bulk of which went to television ads) topped $40 million, more than $30 million of which was spent by Super PAC-type groups answering only to their donors. In the last month of the election, negative ads ran nearly every minute of every day. The difference in spending, factoring in inflation, approached one hundred-to-one. The 2010 Colorado Senate race is generally held up by insiders as the bellwether for 2012 and beyond. As Tim Egan puts it, “This is your democracy on meth—the post–Citizens United world.”

The total number of TV political ads for House, Senate, and Gubernatorial candidates in 2010 was 2,870,000. This was a 250 percent increase in the number of TV ads as there were for the same category of races in 2002. In terms of spending, and compared strictly to 2008, just two years earlier, House race TV ads cost 54 percent more in 2010 and the cost of Senate race TV ads was up 71 percent.7 By the end of 2011 it was already clear that 2012 would have a quantum leap in campaign spending from 2008, the greatest increase in American history, and much of this would go to TV political ads. “In 2010, it was just training wheels, and those training wheels will come off in 2012,” says Kenneth Goldstein, president of Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group. “There will be more bigger groups spending, and not just on one side but on both sides.”8

This is not a commercial market where a speculative boom leads to an eventual bust. This is a political market and it is going in one direction, quickly. The federal and state budgets are enormous multi-trillion-dollar troughs and there is no sign that corporate interests are anywhere near their upward limit of what they will pay to have access to them and control the laws, policies, subsidies, and regulations that affect their profitability. Indeed, it is possible that 2012 may one day appear to be a democratic panacea compared to what lies ahead, much like 1968 or 1972 looks to us today.

Any way you slice it, to mix metaphors, we are not in Kansas anymore.

...

To Read the Entire Essay

Monday, March 18, 2013

Matt Zoller Seitz -- Harold and Maude: Life and How to Live It

Harold and Maude: Life and How to Live It
By Matt Zoller Seitz
Current



Hal Ashby’s Harold and Maude, about the love between a suicidal young man of about twenty and an almost eighty-year-old widow, is timeless in part because it never quite belonged to its own time. Conceived in the late 1960s, at the height of the counterculture, it was released in 1971, when the political narrative of peaceful rebels versus the jackbooted establishment had lost what little mainstream appeal it had briefly enjoyed. In the popular imagination, the March on Washington and the Summer of Love had been displaced by Woodstock, Altamont, Kent State, and a string of assassinations and riots. Richard Nixon had ridden into office in 1968 on a wave of law-and-order sentiment and was about to cakewalk into a second term (and unprecedented shame). The counterculture was in retreat. As Peter Fonda’s record producer tells his young girlfriend in 1999’s The Limey, the sixties were “really . . . just ’66 and early ’67. That’s all it was.”

But the movement’s ideals lived on, in a disguised and ultimately more daring form, in Harold and Maude, which took values that had been expressed by youthful rebels and dropouts in the late 1960s—peace, love, understanding, distrust of authority, a determination to march to the beat of a different drummer—and put them in the mouth of an old woman embroiled in one of the oddest and most original love stories ever filmed. The movie’s apoplectic authority figures, dotty old-money types, poetic interludes, and trance-inducing folk-rock soundtrack (by Cat Stevens) may seem typical of earlier hippie flicks. But its two central premises—that an elderly woman could embody the most unguarded, delicate variety of Summer of Love openness and that she and a much younger man should be able to fall in love and get married without being judged, much less stopped—are anything but. Harold and Maude was shocking by the standards of 1971 Hollywood movies, even the ones that styled themselves as adventurous or hip. But it is so ideologically and emotionally consistent, and weaves such a gentle spell, that we can accept the central romance as a metaphor for beleaguered political and social sentiments even as we get to know Harold (Bud Cort) and Maude (Ruth Gordon) as individuals and root for their happiness. It’s a romance, a tragedy, a satire, a paean to eccentricity, a philosophical statement, and a “trip” film whose music montages seem to roll in like waves. Its mix of elements felt strange and new at the time, and still does, even though the film’s characters, tone, and soundtrack have been referenced and plundered by many modern directors, including Wes Anderson, who used two Stevens songs in Rushmore; P. T. Anderson, whose first four features are filled with Ashby-like innocents stumbling through cruel worlds; and David Fincher, whose Fight Club features a misfit couple flirting at self-help groups that they don’t even belong to, as Harold and Maude do at strangers’ funerals.

Ashby was a former editor and one of the staunchest exemplars of countercultural values ever to work in Hollywood. He debuted with 1970’s The Landlord, starring Beau Bridges as a white preppy who buys a brownstone in then black Park Slope, Brooklyn, alienates his stuck-up family, and learns what really matters in life: love, honesty, and spontaneity. He followed it with an impressive string of pictures that rank among the decade’s best, including Harold and Maude, The Last Detail (1973), Shampoo (1975), Coming Home (1978), and Being There (1979). The films vary widely in subject matter, style, and tone. But they all share a fascination with naive outsiders who are part of a larger system or machine, even if they don’t realize it, and who inspire others, accidentally or on purpose.

In all these movies, but especially in Harold and Maude, Ashby displays an extraordinary sensitivity to the spectrum of human experience. Both The Landlord and Harold and Maude are built around disaffected young men who act out against lives of stifling privilege and ossified values, but the latter film is simpler and more direct, and less tied to ripped-from-the-headlines issues. Building on the innovations of the landmark releases The Graduate (1967) and Easy Rider (1969), Harold and Maude explores outsider mentalities through fragmented cutting, using those music montages to embellish its themes and create a feeling of emotional suspension. But Harold and Maude is ultimately a richer, deeper movie, less measured and a lot more meandering, and also warmer, weirder, and tougher to reduce to catchphrases. It doesn’t position rebels against the establishment, or any group against any other group. It just wants people to be themselves and to be appreciated instead of judged—and to spread bliss by reaching out.

To Read the Rest of the Essay

Luke's Change: An Inside Job

"An examination of some questionable events and circumstances leading up to the destruction of the Death Star, through the eyes of an amateur investigative journalist within the Star Wars galaxy. The focus is mainly on the connections between the people who created and operated the Death Star and those responsible for destroying it. For those who don't care for the obvious, this is a satirical spoof of the 9/11 truther video Loose Change."

Friday, March 8, 2013

Extra Credit Opportunity for Students: Harvest of Empire

Harvest of Empire
WhenSun, March 10, 2:00pm – 3:30pm
WhereLexington Public Library Central Library Theater 140 East Main Street, Lexington KY

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Extra Credit for my ENG/HUM Students: Yana Hashamova on Human Trafficking, Film and Media

On Thursday, April 25, from 6:30-7:45 pm, in the Oswald Auditorium, Dr. Yana Hashamova (Ohio State University) will be speaking on Human Trafficking, Film, and Media.

The description: According to most recent research, media environment influences the viewer’s emotions, attitudes, and behavior; establishes opinions on given social issues; and shapes young people’s perception of reality to a considerable degree. Various media venues are the main source of information about trafficking in people. This presentation examines cross-cultural and transnational media products on trafficking as well as attitudes toward trafficking, utilizing U.S. and Balkan media and social attitudes case studies.

Thank you.

Rebecca Claire Glasscock, PhD, Professor, Geography

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Seth Rosenfeld: A Secret History of America in the 60s

Lynum had plenty of information to share. The FBI's files on Mario Savio, the brilliant philosophy student who was the spokesman for the Free Speech Movement, were especially detailed. Savio had a debilitating stutter when speaking to people in small groups, but when standing before a crowd and condemning his administration's latest injustice he spoke with divine fire. His words had inspired students to stage what was the largest campus protest in American history. Newspapers and magazines depicted him as the archetypal "angry young man," and it was true that he embodied a student movement fueled by anger at injustice, impatience for change, and a burning desire for personal freedom. Hoover ordered his agents to gather intelligence they could use to ruin his reputation or otherwise "neutralize" him, impatiently ordering them to expedite their efforts.

Hoover's agents had also compiled a bulging dossier on the man Savio saw as his enemy: Clark Kerr. As campus dissent mounted, Hoover came to blame the university president more than anyone else for not putting an end to it. Kerr had led UC to new academic heights, and he had played a key role in establishing the system that guaranteed all Californians access to higher education, a model adopted nationally and internationally. But in Hoover's eyes, Kerr confused academic freedom with academic license, coddled Communist faculty members, and failed to crack down on "young punks" like Savio. Hoover directed his agents to undermine the esteemed educator in myriad ways. He wanted Kerr removed from his post as university president. As he bluntly put it in a memo to his top aides, Kerr was "no good."

Reagan listened intently to Lynum's presentation, but he wanted more--much more. He asked for additional information on Kerr, for reports on liberal members of the Board of Regents who might oppose his policies, and for intelligence reports about any upcoming student protests. Just the week before, he had proposed charging tuition for the first time in the university's history, setting off a new wave of protests up and down the state. He told Lynum he feared subversives and liberals would attempt to misrepresent his efforts to establish fiscal responsibility, and that he hoped the FBI would share information about any upcoming demonstrations against him, whether on campus or at his press conferences. It was Reagan's fear, according to Lynum's subsequent report, "that some of his press conferences could be stacked with 'left wingers' who might make an attempt to embarrass him and the state government."

Lynum said he understood his concerns, but following Hoover's instructions he made no promises. Then he and Harter wished the ailing governor a speedy recovery, departed the mansion, slipped into their dark four-door Ford, and drove back to the San Francisco field office, where Lynum sent an urgent report to the director.

The bedside meeting was extraordinary, but so was the relationship between Reagan and Hoover. It had begun decades earlier, when the actor became an informer in the FBI's investigation of Hollywood Communists. When Reagan was elected president of the Screen Actors Guild, he secretly continued to help the FBI purge fellow actors from the union's rolls. Reagan's informing proved helpful to the House Un-American Activities Committee as well, since the bureau covertly passed along information that could help HUAC hold the hearings that wracked Hollywood and led to the blacklisting and ruin of many people in the film industry. Reagan took great satisfaction from his work with the FBI, which gave him a sense of security and mission during a period when his marriage to Jane Wyman was failing, his acting career faltering, and his faith in the Democratic Party of his father crumbling. In the following years, Reagan and FBI officials courted each other through a series of confidential contacts. And after Reagan emerged as a leading conservative spokesman in the fifties, Hoover went beyond the bounds of his jurisdiction and secretly gave him personal and political help. He even lent Reagan a hand in keeping track of his own wayward children, Maureen and Michael. Now the long courtship between the FBI director and the former movie star would pay off for them both.

The FBI would become deeply involved in the clash over free speech at Berkeley between the social forces represented by Reagan, Kerr, and Savio. Each of these men had a transforming vision of America and exerted extraordinary and lasting influence on the nation. By tracing the bureau's involvement with these iconic figures, this book reveals a secret history of America in the sixties. It shows how the FBI's dirty tricks at Berkeley helped fuel the student movement, damaged the Democratic Party, launched Ronald Reagan's political career, and exacerbate the nation's continuing culture wars. Above all, it illustrates the dangers that the combination of secrecy and power pose to democracy, especially during turbulent times. (7-8)

Rosenfeld, Seth. Subversives: The FBI's War on Student Radicals, and Reagan's Rise to Power. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Shortbus (USA: John Cameron Mitchell, 2006: 101 mins)

"In the old days, when you couldn't show sex on film, directors like Hitchcock had metaphors for sex (trains going into tunnels, etc). When you can show more realistic sex, the sex itself can be a metaphor for other parts of the character's lives. The way people express themselves sexually can tell you a lot about who they are. Some people ask me, 'Couldn't you have told the same story without the explicitness?'. They don't ask whether I could've done Hedwig without the songs. Why not be allowed to use every paint in the paintbox?" --John Cameron Mitchell, "How to Shoot Sex: A Docu-Primer" (2007): Shortbus Region 1 DVD release (Th!nk Film)



Shortbus (USA: John Cameron Mitchell, 2006: 101 mins)





"The character of any age is tellingly revealed in the popular representation of intimacy. For all the sexualisation of our culture, we live in strangely repressed times: a late-night, infrared fumble on Big Brother is front-page news. While the online porn industry, with its humourless siliconed stereotypes, is worth a reported $10bn a year - more than the cumulative box-office receipts of Hollywood - real human sexual relationships, vulnerable and fun, are hardly anywhere to be seen." -- Tim Adams (2006)


Adams, Tim. "Everybody's Doing It..." The Guardian (November 26, 2006)

Barounis, Cynthia. "Queerness Meets Disability in Shortbus." In Media Res (February 2, 2011)

Benton, Michael Dean. "American Sex and Sexuality 2.0" Dialogic(May 27, 2010)

---. "Gender and Sexuality at the Carnegie Center." North of Center (January 29, 2010)

---. "Getting off on John Cameron Mitchell’s Shortbus: American Sex and Sexuality." North of Center (March 30, 2011)

---. "Review of Straightlaced: How Gender’s Got Us All Tied Up." North of Center (October 13, 2010)

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Cannon, Kristopher L. "Hedwig leaves her stain on the Shortbus." In Media Res (February 1, 2011)

Chan, Karen B.K. "Should Sex Be Like Jazz." Sociological Images (March 4, 2013)

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Dargis, Manohla. "Naughty and Nice in a Carnal Carnival." The New York Times (October 4, 2010)

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Dubowski, Sandi. "Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret: John Cameron Mitchell pushes the sexual boundaries once again in Shortbus." Filmmaker (Fall 2006)

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Karen B.K. Chan: Should Sex Be Like Jazz?

[via Lisa Wade at Sociological Images. ENG 282 students this relates to tonight's screening of John Cameron Mitchell's Shortbus (2006).]

Sunday, March 3, 2013

David Simon on The Wire (2002-2008)



Instead of the usual good-guys-chasing-bad-guys framework, questions would be raised about the very labels of good and bad, and, indeed, whether such distinctly moral notions were really the point. The show would instead be about untethered capitalism run amok, about how power and money actually root themselves in a postmodern American city, and, ultimately, about why we as an urban people are no longer able to solve our problems or heal our wounds. (36)

The Wire depicts a world in which capital has triumphed completely, labor has been marginalized and monied interests have purchased enough political infrastructure to prevent reform. It is a world in which the rules and values of the free market and maximized profit have been mistaken for a social framework, a world where institutions themselves are paramount and every day human beings matter less. (36)

But instead of the old gods, The Wire is a Greek Tragedy in which the postmodern institutions are the Olympian forces. It's the police department, or the drug economy, or the political structures, or the school administration, or the macroeconomic forces that are throwing the lightning bolts and hitting people in the ass for no decent reason. (37)

David Simon, quoted in Watson, Garry. "The Literary Critic, the Nineteenth Century Novel and The Wire." Cineaction #84 (2011): 32-40.