Can Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone’s La La Land help us manage the Trump era?
The golden age of the Hollywood musical offered reprieve from recession and war. Can this all-singing all-dancing cinema do the same now?
Cant sing. Cant act. Balding. Can dance a little. The famous, perhaps apocryphal, description of Fred Astaires first screen exam jump unbidden to my intellect as I watched Ryan Gosling in the new film La La Land . It is the most dazzling confection, a full-blown Hollywood musical confidently set in contemporary Los Angeles, a movie carrying the perfume of movies that have gone before and yet letting Emma Stone and Gosling, two of todays most attractive stars, to reveal themselves in a new sun. They play Seb, a jazz pianist, and Mia, an aspiring actor, who fulfilled, fall in love, sing and dance like its 1929, bringing the genre blazingly back to life.
That you can think of Gosling, a brooding presence in films such as Drive and The Place Beyond the Pines , at the same time as remembering the well-groomed charm of Astaire is testimony to how charismatic his performance is.( And hes not really balding .) But as he and Stone shuffle their shoes softly beneath a lamppost and sing gently of love with an unembarrassed grace, they evoked a lost world of romance.
Director Damien Chazelle had wanted to build La La Land ever since he was at college with the movies composer, Justin Hurwitz. As he has written, musicals favour emotions over logic. Theyre not a literal reflection of life theyre about how life feels. His first cinema, made in 2009 as a project at Harvard as a tribute to the mood of Jacques Demys The Umbrellas of Cherbourg , was the musical Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench , shooting in black and white. Its US gross was only $33,000, indicating that the world wasnt exactly waiting for a narrative about a jazz trumpeter and his desire to find a girlfriend. Chazelle had to wait for the success of 2014s Whiplash before he could convince anyone of the value of a new big-screen musical.
Yet from the moment La La Land begins, with a woman stuck in traffic on a freeway, get out of her auto, stretching her arms and bursting into a anthem that triggers a full-scale production number with the energy and drive of Fame and the chutzpah of On the Town , it is irresistible. No wonder it has just won the New York Film Critics Circle award for best image. In a time of uncertainty, it takes America back to the most glorious days of the silver screen and reasserts the value of an art sort Hollywood invented.
The Hollywood film musical is not the same as a filmed version of a stage production. It is also a different animal from the Broadway musical, though they are closely related. Initially, Hollywood simply imported the stars of the stage and stuck them in front of the camera: Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor and Fanny Brice among them. But gradually, the filmic aspirations of the studios became more complicated. They realised that cinema could create a fiction land bigger than any Broadway stage, and full of dazzling imagery, beautiful women and toe-tapping choreography. It was an art kind that allowed directors to take risks and to experiment , notes movie historian Clive Hirschhorn, writer of The Hollywood Musical and a biography of Gene Kelly. From the late 20 s until the late 50 s, when TV dimmed its sun, the movie musical became a thing of wonder, a refuge in time of recession and war, an assertion of the human spirit.Go to Homepage
62 Ridiculously Simple Ways You Can Start Saving Money Right Now
Looking to save a bit of money for a summertime journey? Of course you are. We all are.
And the best route to do it is to start small. Although it’s easy to gues, “Okay, if I buy fewer shoes this month, I’ll save X amount of money after four weeks, ” saving money starts with changing everyday behaviors. Do you end up throwing out a few veggies here and there? Do you grab a latte from Starbucks on your style to run every morning? You’re not alone! Simply by doing things like becoming one with your freezer or changing your morning routine, you can save hundreds in the long run.
Here are 62 tips to help get you started!
1. Cut down on Starbucks runs to save anywhere from $15 to $100 per month.
2. Make your own coffee house drinksinstead.
3. Building dinner at home instead of eating out saves between $150 and $200 per month.
4. And packing a lunch every day can help you save between $40 and $200.
7. Make your own bread to save $15 a month.
8. Make breakfast for dinner.
9. Grow your own vegetable garden.
10. Only shop organic for the dirty dozen.
11. Freeze leftovers.
12. Get into canning.
13. Stock up when you find a bargain.
14. Buy a one-quarter or side of beef.
15. Get make from local farms.
16. Make your own taco seasoning.
18. Make your own yogurt.
19. Buy whole chickens instead of parts.
20. Use Pinterest to find new recipes.
21. Take advantage of price match insures.
22. Shop organic at Costco.
23. Stop buying lottery tickets.
24. Buy discounted movie tickets, theme park tickets, and restaurant gift cards at Costco.
25. Be content with the money you’re bringing in right now.
26. Learn about money management.
27. Don’t carry a credit card balance so you can save about $30 a month.
28. If you have trouble dealing with credit, opt for cash or debit.
29. Pay off debt as quickly as possible.
30. Use your tax rebate to give you a boost
31. Stimulate a budget that covers just about everything from amusement to food.
32. Shop for gift wrap at the dollar store.
33. Keep it simple when you have company over.
34. Decorate for parties with what you already have.
35. Pack food for breakfast and snacks on vacation.
36. Take the bus, ride your motorcycle, or walk instead of driving. This can save between $30 and $400 per month.
38. Commit to being a one-car household to save an average of $400 every month.
39. Save money on gas by get all your errands done at once.
40. Make sure tires are properly inflated to save $30 a month.
41. Drive the speed limit to save a few bucks.
42. Do your own automobile maintenance.
43. Maintain your eyes peeled for better car insurance rates.
44. Quit smoking to save hundreds of dollars a month.
45. Cancel that gym membership in the summer and exert outside.
46. Quit coloring your hair.
47. Save manicures and pedicures for special occasions.
48. Use in-network providers for healthcare to save between $30 and $120 a month.
49. Use cloth nappies instead of disposable ones.
50. Try out cloth baby wipes instead of throwing a bunch out.
51. Buy gender neutral baby clothes and gear. That way, you can use them for any other bundles of elation who come along!
52. Switch to cloth napkins so you can save money and look extra fancy.
53. In fact, you are able to make your own cloth napkins.
54. Do your own home maintenance.
55. Shop for better bargains on health and life insurance, and always bundle when you can!
56. Move to a cheaper, more efficient home.
57. Downsize when it was is right.
58. Do your own yard work.
59. Replace plastic bags with reusable food containers.
60. Make your own laundry detergent.
61. Sign up for free samples.
62. Make your own cleaning supplies.
See? That’s not so hard, is it? Most of these changes are so small, they won’t even feel like sacrifices.
( via Growing Slower)
Kenny Chesney: ‘Entertainers detest audiences watching through cellphones’
The country star, on his 17 th album since 1994, has a new direction and strong things to say about the style our digital culture has changed human interaction
Like any big music starring, Kenny Chesney is used to people reaching out to shake his hand from the front rows of his stadium reveals. But he hasnt forgotten the woman in New Jersey last summertime who clasped her hands in his, depicted him close, but never looked at him once. She was looking at her telephone, he recollects. She was so lost in the noise of it all, she missed the human connect. It was sad.
A risk of success is the cheapening of the message, and sometimes the messenger. Which is why on Cosmic Hallelujah, his 17 th album, Chesney moves another step closer to transforming his role as one of mainstream countrys most enduring superstars to an artist freshly invested in both challenging himself and pushing his audience his fans are known as the No Shoes Nation even if they are fine with the route things are. Chesney is 48 and while the world has certainly changed since 1999, where reference is released She Thinks My Tractors Sexy, hes changed along with it.
Theres more to my life than escapism, he says. I love that part of my life, but it is more important now to talk about other things. Its where I am at right now.
Cosmic Hallelujah is the album destined to grow his audience, although with 28 No 1 records on the country chart, he hasnt precisely underserved them. But Americana fans would find much to admire here through ballads like Jesus and Elvis, a bittersweet story told with traditional country elements and featuring his finest singing in years. And while anthems like Bucket and Bar at the Objective of the World are insured gravy for his blockbuster live presents, Hallelujah also stimulates space for more thoughtful material that reflect both the anxiety of the times and the determination to move through it.
The centerpiece is Noise, the albums first single, which detonation through the digital overload of daily life. The lyrics appeared like a inundate and, with songwriters Ross Copperman, Shane McAnally and Jon Nite, Chesney crafted a dramatic treatise on the potential we are becoming numb to intimacy. Unlike other anthems that tackle the same subject, Noise is less ripped from the headlines and more from his own personal diary. I felt it was affecting my creativity and my personal relationships, he tells of the onslaught of 24/7 connectivity. I felt I was texting I love you instead of telling people I loved them.
Unplugging now translates to leaving the cellphone off the table during dinners. But Chesney has the unique view of watching just how immersed people have become in removing themselves from the present moment when he seems out from the stage of a football stadium and insures 50,000 people staring back at him through their screens.
Its very frustrating, any entertainer will tell you they dislike it, he tells. Especially for me I want to look at everybody straight-out in the eye and make them feel something and its really hard to do that if theyre not looking at you but theyre looking at their telephone. Theyre missing the connection and taking fragments home with them. Its like looking at a bookshelf of volumes but you dont read any of them, you simply read a little bit of each.
Read more: www.theguardian.comGo to Homepage
Shkreli, Kanye and Trump: a most heinous trinity not worthy of our loathing
Some people are just awful, and the more attention we give them or write about them, as Dave Schilling admits the more they will act out. So lets stop already
Churlish, smirking assface Martin Shkreli is back at it again, and no one is happy about it.
Yesterday, Shkreli offered fellow bleating twit Kanye West $ 10 m for the exclusive listening rights to Wests imminent album The Life of Pablo, despite facing fraud charges and not having a task with which to earn a proper income to pay for it. If Shkreli is successful in duping West into selling him the album exclusively , no one else can listen to it except for Martin Shkreli. West would have to instantly cancel plans to release the record and hand over a single, solitary transcript to Shkreli, much the same way Wu-Tang Clan sold Shkreli the only physical edition of their album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. Boy did that induce everyone righteously angry all over again.
In the clear illuminate of the morning, Shkreli backtracked a little bit on the ludicrously vain offer. The point is NOT to keep music from people, its to remind everyone how important and central it is in our lives, he said on Twitter. This fits with his recent Vanity Fair profile, in which the author painted a picture of a conflicted, complicated young man who may or may not be putting on an act for the sake of performance art. Never mind that hes been arrested and had to appear before Congress to answer for his odious pharmaceutical price-gouging tactics. Hes only a merry prankster out to prove a point through next-level satire.
If Martin Shkreli is actually a brilliant social commentator and performance artist, then I might be able to interest you in this pile of old diapers covered in pony entrails. You assure, under that knoll of crap is Tupac Shakur alive and well and eager to start recording again and a fresh, untapped oil well worth billions of dollars. Start excavating!
Were all so bloody desperate for the world to not be a roiling cauldron of bile and hatred that we pretend as though anyone making asinine statements in public is some kind of clever artist. Kanye West can barf up a heinous non sequitur about Bill Cosbys innocence and a percentage of the population will shrug it off while reminding us that he wrote Flashing Lights and deserves our adoration. Perhaps Donald Trump, for all of his maniacal exaggeration, is actually operating for chairwoman at the behest of the Clinton family as a spoiler to ensure Hillary wins the general election. After all, how can someone truly be so vile and mean it?
It aches me to be the one to expose this to all of you good, honest, hard-working folk out there, but some people are just awful. And the more attention we proffer these twits, the more they act out for our dubious benefit . . Donald Trump doesnt devote a damn about America. Hes simply bored and needs a challenge. Martin Shkreli is lonely. Kanye West knows that manipulation of the media helps him sell more albums and more overpriced shoes.
Complain all you like about Shkreli today, tomorrow, next week, and for the rest of their own lives. He already has what he wants, which is a bunch of aggrieved citizens squeaking about him so he can drown out the deafening stillnes. Trump and Kanye, too: they dont care how you feel as long as you feel something. This is not a revolutionary notion. Its existed long before I was born, but the human race has a short memory, likely because all the smart people end up succumbing eventually, leaving us drooling children to induce the same mistakes over again.
Thats why we need to elect a 100 -year-old woman to be permanent president of the planet. Women are better, more merely leaders than men. First , notice that the three people Im berating in this piece are all male. Second, at 100, shell be too old to derive much pleasure in power anyway. She probably wont be able to get out of bed because her bones ache too much and shed “re going to have to” unplug herself from her feeding tubing, so the perverse thrills enjoyed by despots such as Saddam Hussein and Idi Amin will be lost on her. Lastly, at 100 shell be old enough to remember all the dumb things humanity has been responsible for in the past century. If we can maintain her on life is supportive of a few years, we might be able to rid ourselves of the scourge of pedantic, blustery celebrities wasting all our time bloviating about absolutely nothing of consequence. And maybe get single-payer healthcare while were at it.
Unfortunately, in this elderly-run utopia theres no room for me. Without Martin Shkreli, Donald Trump, Kanye West, whomever is complaining about Beyonces Super Bowl halftime show, Bill OReilly, Justin Bieber, and whatever ill-mannered sports pundit you dislike most, culture novelists would have nothing to write about. Late night talkshow hosts would have no monologues. Physicians, barbers and cab drivers would no longer have an easy conversation starter, like: So, did you ensure what Trump said at the debate last night? He called Ted Cruz a penis-face and Hillary Clinton some dumb broad who dresses like a Starfleet admiral. What a dork. In short, our world would be 100% better, but Id have to get a real job.
People like me are part of the problem, whether we are comfortable admitting it or not. My task is to write about idiots, morons, neer-do-wells and prats. If they all pissed off back to their home planet, Id have to learn accounting or masonry, which would be awful considering how clumsy I am and the fact that I sometimes still do simple addition with my fingers. But I exist, and Martin Shkreli exists, because of all of you. You keep clicking on this bollocks because you love having someone to loathe. Once you get this out of your system, hopefully youll read one of the many pieces on the ceasefire in Syria, the water crisis in Flint, or the Los Angeles gas leak.
Maybe we do this to ourselves because were lonely, just as isolated and desperate for affection and belonging as Martin Shkreli. Our lives consist of transferring from one cold, sterile pod to another from our bed to our vehicle to our office to our bathroom to a bar to our grave. OK, perhaps Im speaking for myself there, but these moments of outrage afford us all a few moments of community. We unite against a common enemy, which can be incredibly, if fleetingly cathartic. Scapegoating feels great for a minute before it turns sour. Ask the citizens of Germany in the late 1930 s.
Donald Trump unites his followers against Mexicans, Muslims and anyone who opposes him. You can be a part of a mission when you support Donald Trump or if “youd prefer”, you can be a part of the mission to stop him. Either route, the guy is great at bringing people together for a common goal. Even better, Martin Shkreli unites us all against Martin Shkreli. That entails everybody is abhor him in unison. Unlike Trump or Kanye, hes not polarizing hes universally vilified. We can like, we can share, and we can join hands in agreement that Martin Shkreli is despicable. I know I am never alone as long as someone else detests him as much as I do. Except that the rage we foment through these glory-seekers and narcissists isnt healthy in the long term. Media outrage is a bump of cocaine: it feels spectacular for 20 minutes, and then afterward you wont shut up about how this is necessary more.
Or, more accurately, the modern media is like bobbing for apples in a horse trough filled with cat urine. You might find something good if you try hard enough, but in the process youre likely going to make yourself sick. In this ridiculous analogy, youre better off skipping the trough completely and growing your own apples in an orchard somewhere, preferably someplace quiet, where Martin Shkreli can never find you.
Read more: www.theguardian.comGo to Homepage
Paul McCartney was turned away from a club. He should be glad | Luke Holland
The doorman who rejected the former Beatle entry to a Grammys after-party did us all a favor. No one need take these refuges for D-listers severely again
How VIP do we gotta get ?! Upon being refused entry to the rapper Tygas Grammy aftershow party, an indignant Paul McCartney peers at the faces of his companions, baffled. The doorman, with a doormans unique and innate infallibility, wont budge. Paul wrote Eleanor Rigby. He wrote Yesterday while actually being asleep, for goodness sake.
Never mind that Macca had turned up at the incorrect party he was supposed to be three miles down the road at Mark Ronsons, presumably equally swanky, after-party. And it is certainly too little too late for Tyga to pass the blamed on to overzealous doormen, claiming he would have been more than happy to have invited the Beatle in. This was the worlds greatest living songwriter, with a net worth of PS820m, but on Monday night none of it mattered. Paul was just a 73 -year-old man who, for the first time in at the least 54 of those years, was seeing that his best chance of getting in might be to nip behind the bins and change coats with one of his mates.
Surely this is it the final straw for the club as a desired final destination on any night out. The rest of us have been putting up with Your names not on the listing or No trainers, mate for decades, but Macca? No. Not him. Clubs have gone too far this time. Yes, his situation was different from ours: his mates were Beck and Foo Fighters Taylor Hawkins as opposed to two idiots who sank a bottle of pinot each because Wethers is so cheap youre sort of losing money if you dont, and the party he attempted to get into was Tygas , not Tiger Tiger. Nevertheless, if even “the mens” who redefined boulder with Helter Skelter isnt good enough to get in to a club, the time has surely come to conclude that clubs are not good enough for us to actually want to get into to.
Im not talking about dance connoisseurs nightclubs here ones where club is used as a verb. Theyre different. Theyre fine full of happy, dancing people there to enjoy music. No, I mean the inexplicably snooty, cocktail-y ones. They play Jason Derulo a lot. Or Drake. Blasted so loud it renders dialogue impossible without yodelling into your victims ear the point, incidentally, at which they discover a damp waft of saliva down the ear canal does little to reduce the agony of a perforated eardrum. Sometimes you can get a pint in these places, but opportunities are youll pay full-pint price for a bottle, which last day I checked is just over half a pint. Utter, meritless nonsense.
Pub licensing laws have changed and clubs no longer have a monopoly on wee-hours boozing. So what exactly is the point of them? Why are people still queueing up for 40 minutes to get into one, shall be required to urinate so fiercely that all the capillaries in their eyes have exploded?
People go to clubs on the pull, for one thing. This is fair enough, understandable: clubs remove any possibility of dialogue and promote boozily confident dancing handy for people, lets tell, whose best feature is their seems. Clubs also often have an tempt, velvet-roped-off VIP area, inviting you to wonder what exclusive pleasures might lurk therein. Lets set this one to bed right now Ill tell you what lurks therein: my mate sneaked into one in Ibiza once and all she did was snog Dean Gaffney and nick Michael Grecos hat. The best you can hope for here is a fleeting appearance by Dane Bowers or Arg from Towie. You dont imagine you could have a prolonged debate about the best book in the His Dark Materials trilogy with either of them. In fact, you get the distinct impression that, whatever you said, eventually one of them would end up crying.
Clubs are rubbish. They were rubbish when we were all 18, and theyre rubbish now. Theyre a relic of a day when people wanted a fleeting savour of D-list celebrity for the price of a thrown-together mojito. Now were older and wiser, and paying PS8 to get into a place where the staff treat you like a minor irritant seems wildly unnecessary. Its day the club, as a notion, died, and we all received a half-decent late-opening pub instead. The over-zealous doorman at Tygas after-party undoubtedly saved Paul McCartney from an nasty, nasty night.
My local saloon bides open until dribble oclock. It has no DJ, but a vinyl deck with a panoply of records for utilize by anyone, many of which have Paul McCartney on them. Theres dancing. Darts. Chatter. A smoking gazebo. It has two fat , non-judgmental puppies in it, and a cat that sleeps in the nut tray. And, most importantly, because its not 1996, it has no doorman with a face like the back of a fist telling you your moneys not good enough because your shoes are wrong and he doesnt like your hairdo.
If youre in the area, Macca, stroll past the clubs and come down for a pint. Join us in 2016. Mines a pale ale.
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Aaron Paul:’ It’s impossible not to throw our own emotions into the mix’
The star of Eye in the Sky on the droning debate, learning to love LA, and the return of Breaking Bads Jesse Pinkman
Aaron Paul is a 36 -year-old actor who came to prominence playing crystal meth merchant and producer Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad , for which he won three Emmy awardings. In Eye in the Sky he plays a droning pilot was necessary to blow up an Al-Shabaab cell in Kenya.
Eye in the Sky is dedicated to the memory of Alan Rickman , who co-starred. Did you get to meet him ?
Sadly we never had the opportunity. This was the second movie he and I did together, but I never had the privilege of meeting the man. Im very blest to have shared a screen with him. Your character refuses to fire his droning because he is likely to kill an innocent girl. But if he doesnt act, the suicide bombers hes targeting might kill many more innocents. Do you have a moral posture on that dilemma ?
Its impossible not to throw our own emotions into the mixture. I feel I side with my character on this, thats why Im so happy I dont have to be in his shoes and Im not part of the decision-making process. Hes just trying to bide time, to wait until the last possible moment to release his payload. Has there been much debate in the US about the use of droning warfare ?
Absolutely, theres been a discussion ever since dronings started flying. But if you talk to our director[ Gavin Hood ], whos been doing endless amounts of research for the past three or four years, he informed me that even when the longbow was created and they started utilizing that in battles, people thought it was terribly unjust. How are you peacefully pulling back a longbow from across a giant field in the convenience of your bunker? Drones are a more dramatic version of that.
You grew up in Idaho, the son of a baptist pastor. What kind of childhood was that ?
It was unbelievable. I appreciate it much more now being away from it. I grew up on the lagoon, floating the rivers , nothing but mountains and streams and wildlife and that kind of thing. I was always snowboarding from a very young age. And you think, oh God I cant wait to get out to live a more exciting life. But now living in Los Angeles since I was 17, I cannot wait to get back to Idaho. You moved to LA as a adolescent. Was that a lonely hour of your life ?
I didnt fall in love with Los Angeles as quickly as I had imagined I would. It took me a good two to three years to actually love the city. Now Im madly in love with it. Theres a lot of Los Angeles that at first glance youre frightened by, a lot of fake people and the glitz and glam, thats not really my cup of tea. Then eventually you get your core group of friends who you love and trust. I wouldnt call it lonely. I was fighting for something. I was trying to get my foot inside that door. And eventually the door was opened. Did you ever think of ceasing ?
There was a lot of anxiety. I never wanted to quit. I had many ups and downs in the business. I started doing commercials to pay my bills, then I stopped doing that because I wanted to focus on guest places on Tv. If you have a lull in working its hard to keep up and pay your bills. Right before Breaking Bad was likely the lowest point in my career. That was the first time I had ever asked for any money from my family, and my family didnt have any money to dedicate. But they managed to get some money together and pay my rent of 3 months in a row. That was unbelievably heartbreaking for me. Jesse Pinkman was a wonderful character, and one of his distinctive characteristics was his deep lazy voice. How close is it to yours ?
I took a while to actually know who Jesse was. In the pilot he just came off as this druggy burnout. I wanted him to stand out. I know this kid says Yo and bitch far too much. I wanted to create a character around that. His voice came to me throughout the first season of the prove. And I got a true sense of it in the second season. Is it difficult staying in one character over so many years? Does it begin to possess you ?
A lot of periods it would be difficult but with a prove like Breaking Bad it actually induced it easier, because these characters were so well developed and absolutely on the page right there in front of us for the taking. The more scripts we had the more we figured out who these characters were. You are able to tell an incredibly descriptive narration in 62 hours of television.
I read that at one stage you were dreaming as Jesse
Thats true. I truly lived and inhaled every moment and then some of what you insure on screen. It was almost impossible not to guess as Jesse, to actually transform into that guy. So at night there would be periods when I would wake up in a panic as Jesse, and bad things were happening to me. Which actually I was so into. I never had that experience before of dreaming as the character.
Theres talk of you turning up on the prequel , Better Call Saul . Do you have any news about that ?
All I can say is that weve had multiple dialogues about such a possibility and if it were to happen it would happen for absolutely all the right reasons. They wouldnt wishes to hurl Jesse in just so the audience could see him in the background. Hed have to really enter the tale. And as Im such a huge fan of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul , if they did figure out a way to stimulate that happen Id be very excited. What do you do to relax ?
Any chance I have just to be at my house, I take it. Im never at home, Im always travelling. I never work in LA. Being home is actually a vacation for me and my wife. Music is our obsession. I fell in love with my wife at a music celebration. We have concerts inside our living room. Whenever were in town, we track down artists playing in Los Angeles and just reach out to their tour manager and see if theyd like to play our living room. Do you think youd be able to make crystal meths to a reasonable quality if you were required ?
Absolutely not. I wouldnt even know how to jolt myself up. I would be terrible at it.
Eye in the Sky is out 15 April
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Lionel Shriver’s full speech: ‘I hope the concept of cultural appropriation is a passing fad’
This is the full transcript of the keynote speech, Fiction and Identity Politics, that writer Lionel Shriver dedicated at the Brisbane Writers Festival
I hate to frustrate you folks, but unless we stretch the topic to breaking point this address will not be about community and belonging. In fact, you have to hand it to this celebrations organisers: inviting a renowned iconoclast to speak about community and belonging is like expecting a great white shark to balance a beach ball on its nose.
The topic I had submitted instead was fiction and identity politics, which may sound on its face equally dreary.
But Im afraid the bramble of thorny issues that cluster around identity politics has got all too interesting, particularly for people pursuing the occupation I share with many gathered in this hall: fiction writing. Taken to their logical conclusion, ideologies lately come into vogue challenge our right to write fiction at all. Meanwhile, the kind of fiction we are allowed to write is in danger of becoming so hedged, so circumscribed, so tippy-toe, that wed indeed be better off not writing the anodyne drivel to begin with.
Lets start with a tempest-in-a-teacup at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. Earlier this year, two students, both members of student government, threw a tequila-themed birthday party for a friend. The hosts provided attendees with miniature sombreros, whichthe horror numerous partygoers wore.
When photos of the party circulated on social media, campus-wide outrage ensued. Administrators sent multiple emails to the culprits threatening an investigation into an act of ethnic stereotyping. Partygoers were placed on social probation, while the two hosts were ejected from their dorm and later impeached. Bowdoins student newspaper denounced the attendees absence of basic empathy.
The student government issued its declaration of solidarity with all the students who were injured and affected by the incident, and demanded that administrators create a safe space for those students who have been or feeling specifically targeted. The tequila party, the statement specified, was just the sort of occasion that creates an environment where students of colouring, particularly Latino, and especially Mexican, feeling unsafe. In sum, the party-favour hats constituted wait for it cultural appropriation.
Curiously, across my country Mexican restaurants, often owned and run by Mexicans, are festooned with sombreros if perhaps not for long. At the UKs University of East Anglia, the student union has banned a Mexican restaurant from devoting out sombreros, deemed once more an act of cultural appropriation that was also racist.
Now, I am a little at a loss to explain whats so insulting about a sombrero a practical piece of headgear for a hot climate that keeps out the sunshine with a wide brim. My parents went to Mexico when I was small, and brought a sombrero back from their travelings, the better for my brothers and I to unashamedly appropriate the keepsake to play dress-up. For my part, as a German-American on both sides, Im more than happy for anyone who doesnt share my genetic pedigree to don a Tyrolean hat, pull on some leiderhosen, pour themselves a weisbier, and belt out the Hoffbrauhaus Song.
But what does this “re going to have to” do with writing fiction? The moral of the sombrero scandals is clear: youre not supposed to try on other people hats . Yet thats what were paid to do, isnt it? Step into other people shoes, and try on their hats.
In the latest ethos, which has spun well beyond college campuses in short order, any tradition, any experience, any costume, any route of doing and telling things, that is associated with a minority or disadvantaged group is ring-fenced: look-but-dont-touch. Those who espouse a vast scope of identities ethnicities, nationalities, races, sex and gender categories, classes of economic under-privilege and disability are now encouraged to be possessive of their experience and to regard other people attempts to participate in their lives and traditions, either actively or imaginatively, as a form of theft.
Yet were their authors honouring the new regulations against helping yourself to what doesnt belong to you, we would not have Malcolm Lowrys Under the Volcano. We wouldnt have most of Graham Greenes fictions, many of which are set in what for the author were foreign countries, and which hence have Real Foreigners in them, who speak and act like foreigners, too.
In his masterwork English Passengers, Matthew Kneale would have restrained himself from including chapters written in an Aboriginals voice though these are some of the richest, most compelling passages in that novel. If Dalton Trumbo had been scared off of describing being trapped in a body with no arms, legs, or face because he was not personally disabled because he had not been through a World War I mutilating himself and therefore had no right to appropriate the isolation of a paraplegic we wouldnt have the haunting 1938 classic, Johnny Got His Gun .
We wouldnt have Maria McCanns erotic masterpiece, As Meat Loves Salt in which a straight girl writes about lesbian men in the English Civil War. Though the book is nonfiction, its worth noting that we also wouldnt have 1961 s Black Like Me, for which John Howard Griffin committed the now unpardonable sin of blackface. Having his scalp darkened Michael Jackson in reverse Griffin found out what it was like to live as a black man in the segregated American South. Hed be excoriated today, yet that volume made a powerful social impact at the time.
The author of Who Owns Culture? Appropriation and Authenticity in American Law, Susan Scafidi, a law professor at Fordham University who for the record is white, defines cultural appropriationas taking intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or artifacts from someone elses culture without permission. This can include unauthorised use of another cultures dance, dress, music, speech, folklore, cuisine, traditional medication, religious symbols, etc.
What ten-strikes me about that definition is that without permission bit. However are we fiction writers to try permission to use a character from another race or culture, or to hire the vernacular of a group to which we dont belong? Do we set up a stand on the corner and approach passers-by with a clipboard, getting signatures that award limited rights to hire an Indonesian character in Chapter Twelve, the route political volunteers get a candidate on the ballot?
I am hopeful that the concept of cultural appropriation is a passing fad: people with different backgrounds rubbing up against one another and exchanging ideas and practises is self-evidently one of the most productive, fascinating aspects of modern urban life.
But this latest and little absurd no-no is part of a larger climate of super-sensitivity, devoting rise to proliferating proscriptions supposedly in the interest of social justice that constrain fiction writers and prospectively stimulates our work impossible.
So far, the majority of these farcical cases of appropriation have concentrated on manner, dance, and music: At the American Music Awarding 2013, Katy Perry got it in the neck for garmenting like a geisha. According to the Arab-American novelist Randa Jarrar, for someone like me to practice belly dancing is white appropriation of Eastern dance, while according to the Daily BeastIggy Azalea committed cultural crimes by mimicking African rap and speaking in a blaccent.
The felony of cultural sticky thumbs even extends to workout: at the University of Ottawa in Canada, a yoga educator was shamed into suspending her class, because yoga originally comes from India. She offered to re-title the course, Mindful Stretching. And get this: the purism has also reached the world of food. Supported by no less than Lena Dunham, students at Oberlin College in Ohio have protested culturally appropriated food like sushi in their dining hall( luck cuss in my day, we never had sushi in our dining hall ), whose inauthenticity is insensitive to the Japanese.Go to Homepage
John Oliver tears into Wells Fargo over banking scandal
After a few weeks off, the Last Week Tonight host returned to excoriate bank CEO John G Stumpf, and reserved some venom for Donald Trump
After a few weeks hiatus, John Oliver came back in fiery form, ripping into Wells Fargo in the wake of the companys banking scandal on his HBO series Last Week Tonight.
Wells Fargo: the only bank ever to be serenaded by an eight-year-old Ron Howard, said Oliver, before demonstrating a clip of Howard singing about Wells Fargo in the 1962 cinema The Music Man.
Just three weeks ago, Oliver continued, Wells Fargo was the most valuable bank in the world. But recently, its reputation has taken a massive reach after some alarming revelations.
Oliver recounted how Wells Fargo employees secretly opened unauthorized accounts to reach marketings targets and receive bonuses, affecting more than two million customers. He then quipped: Hidden fees are bad enough without being hidden inside concealed accounts with concealed pin numbers constructed with concealed email addresses because thats like a Russian nesting doll where the last doll is giving you the middle finger.
The bank recently announced it was ending the sales quotas at the core of this scandal. About 5,300 employees were fired for opening unauthorized accounts in order to meet their marketings quotas.
Despite this, Oliver didnt go easy on the embattled Wells Fargo CEO, John G Stumpf, taking his cue from the thorough lash he received from Senator Elizabeth Warren, who last week implored him to resign in front of the Senate banking committee.
Stumpf actually appeared in front of the Senate banking committee this week with a bandage on his hand, which I legally cant say is the result of carpal passageway from typing in so many fake email addresses. And he wanted to be clear: he didnt know anything about anything, said Oliver.
Oh, come along, added the host. If he was going to play that dumb, he should have depicted up with his shoes on his hands and a Stone Cold Steve Austin T-shirt. Then it would have constructed sense.
Oliver dedicated much of the rest of the depict to build the case that Donald Trumps worst scandals trump those of opponent Hillary Clinton.
This campaign has been dominated by scandals, but it is dangerous to think that there is an equal number on both sides, he said. And you can be annoyed by some of Hillarys that is understandable but you should then be fucking outraged by Trumps.
Ethical fails in a politician are like raisins in a cookie, he explained. They shouldnt be there. They disgust people. But most legislators have at least a few raisins.
Hillary is a cookie like this one, he said, holding an oatmeal raisin cookie. She arguably has more raisins than average.
As for Trump? The man is a fucking raisin monsoon, yelled Oliver, as a torrent of raisins rained down on his desk.
Read more: www.theguardian.comGo to Homepage
50 documentaries you need to see
Ten of the best nonfiction film-makers today choose their own favourites, from serial killer stories to meta pranks.
The Texan directors feature debut, The Act of Killing (2012), and its follow-up, The Look of Silence (2014), explore the aftermath of massacres in Indonesia. Both were nominated for Oscars.Go to Homepage
She never heard people bad-mouth Appalachia until she left. Now she’s making a cinema in response.
“Where ya from? ” is a question Tijah Bumgarner got a lot after she left her home state.
“West Virginia, ” she’d reply, when she was waiting tables in Los Angeles and folks noticed her accent. And she knew the follow-up before it was asked. “They’d joke around like look down to see if I was wearing shoes and of course ask me if I’d marriage my cousin.”
“They’d joke around like look down to see if I was wearing shoes and of course ask me if I’d marriage my cousin.”
After a while, the 20 -year-old started to respond with a prepackaged quip. When asked where she’s from, she’d tell, “West Virginia, but I have all my teeth and I’m wearing shoes, so don’t bother asking about that.”
It was an understandable defense mechanism making fun of herself before anyone else could but looking back, Tijah says she never “recognized what that really entailed or that I was really merely perpetuating this stereotype in a way.”
What are the dominant stories that come out of West Virginia and other parts of central Appalachia these days?
On the one hand, you’ve got plenty of movies and proves about ignorant, backward, and ” other ” mountain people. Like the “Wrong Turn” series of six( yeah, SIX) movies about inbred, cannibalistic hillbillies in West Virginia.
Those types of stories can be traced back to the late 1800 s, when travelling novelists from the North would come to the mountains to write what was essentially fiction about the isolated people there who were oh-so-against advance.
This narrative took the fact that folks were living off the land and twisted it around against them because surely anyone who doesn’t want their land stripped away from them for resource extraction must be against advance, right? Right.
And then, of course, you’ve get news stories heavy with misfortune: chemical spills, poverty, drug use, mine calamities.
“Of course it’s sorrowful. Of course we’re losing a lot. Of course they’re blowing up mountains. But there are other things happening too.”
This summer, Tijah’s working on a new various kinds of tale: one that’s simply about growing up.
Her story is a simple one, a relatable one, and maybe even a cute one, about a 14 -year-old girl growing up in Tijah’s hometown of Meadow Bridge, West Virginia.
. Sure, we may think we’re a little different, but really, we all kind of go across these things. Y’know, we all have a crush, we all have a first kiss. I’m hoping that people can relate to that.”
Tijah knows that there’s no way “Meadow Bridge” could single-handedly reverse all the stereotypes people have about central Appalachia. No one tale could do that.
But she hopes that adding to the discourse may help create something different. “At least, ” she hopes, “it’s a drop in the bucket.”
“Sometimes telling a simple tale is a revolutionary act.”
Help make sure “Meadow Bridge” comes to life! Support the Kickstarter campaign here:
Read more: www.upworthy.comGo to Homepage