I’ve been trying to write about this moment for a week now–but it’s just thought in process and doesn’t really land anywhere.
I have been thinking a lot about the professions of art vs. entertainment–between the Oscars, and attending a wedding chock-full of comedy writers, and watching hours and hours (and hours) of reality TV on the flights to New York and back (Iron Chef America: Challenge King Crab, Chopped, Confessions of a Teen Idol, the Amazing Race, Made, and Celebrity Sober House). Also seeing Candice Breitz‘ incredible video piece Him and Her at the Yvon Lambert Gallery, a seven-channel installation in which 30 years worth of Meryl Streeps talk to each other about love, marriage, gender, art-making–a brilliant survey of the subconscious of cinema when it comes to presenting women. (I can’t link directly to the piece–go to the website, click “video”, then “Him and Her,” then “Her.”)
I am in no way “above” entertainment. I enjoy my celebrity gossip, and (when it’s good), I am passionate for big fluffy musicals and trashy romance novels and stand-up comedy and America’s Best Dance Crew and So You Think You Can Dance. I blobbed out shamelessly on JetBlue. In terms of the figures who influenced me, whom I think of as my ancestors in my pursuits, it comes down to old vaudeville, burlesque, comedy, people who created in big volume and wanted to entertain. And I know that one funny 2-minute sketch on the Daily Show reaches a bigger audience than probably all the stuff I’ve ever done put together.
So why? Why did I go one way and not the other?
It’s funny to think about all of us who did high school theater, and are now involved in different types of creative work which might seem, to outsiders, like it floats in the same pond. When it only becomes more different, the more deeply we pursue whichever direction we struck out on.
I doubt I can say anything about it that’s new and fresh about Waltz with Bashir–an animated documentary about Israel, Lebanon, war, PTSD, and the subjectivity of memory creation and retention. All I can say is, go see it, and trust the wry humor that you might sense is in there–it’s in there.
But I saw an interview with Ari Folman in the dentist’s office, and thought I’d link to it. His five favorite movies. Mostly for the money quote:
“When I was a kid, my mother told my sisters and me that there were no superheroes except for Federico Fellini.”
Someone, Gawker, anyone, talk about how fucking stupid this article is in Vanity Fair. First person navel-gazing (literally) “journalism” at its worst.
Here’s my summary, in the voice of the author:
I’m a 27-year old, 5’9″, 120 pound writer for Vanity Fair! I go to three plastic surgeons so they can tell me that I’m hot and don’t need plastic surgery! But then one of them recommends minor lipo, so I’ll never be able to eat a piece of fruit again without thinking about my fat ass [that last part is almost a direct quotataion]!
There is no part of me that is thinking critically about this, or as if feminism had ever happened! I just did this so I can have a full photo of me in sexy black underwear, looking hot, in Vanity Fair!
This is really an article about being reassured by professionals that I have a hot body, because I am that insecure! But also, I’m calling it journalism, so I can get paid for it! This is my most read article, ever! I’m so glad I could find an opportunity to whore myself before I turn 30!
If anyone is interested, the full searchable PDF of the stimulus is here.
NATIONAL FOUNDATION ON THE ARTS AND THE HUMANITIES
NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS
GRANTS AND ADMINISTRATION
For an additional amount for ‘‘Grants and Administration’’, $50,000,000, to be distributed in direct grants to fund arts projects and activities which preserve jobs in the non-profit arts sector threatened by declines in philanthropic and other support during the current economic downturn: Provided, That 40 percent of such funds shall be distributed to State arts agencies and regional arts organizations in a manner similar to the agency’s current practice and percent of such funds shall be for competitively selected arts projects and activities according to sections 2 and 5(c) of the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 951, 954(c)): Provided further, That matching requirements under section 5(e) of such Act shall be waived: Provided further, That the amount set aside from this appropriation pursuant to section 1106 of this Act shall be not more than 5 percent instead of the percentage specified in such section.
Glad to see the Arts weren’t entirely forgotten. On a lighter note, from a friend:
Out of curiosity, I searched for the words “swimming pool” and was somewhat relieved to find this language on page 12:
None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available in this Act may be used for any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, or swimming pool.
Went with B. to see Dean and Britta do the 13 Most Beautiful… (playing songs they scored to 13 of Andy Warhol’s screen tests). I don’t think I’d ever seen any of the screen tests, certainly not in their fullness. Very deceptively simple setup, but so gorgeous, so revealing. Andy was certainly an illustrator, he had an eye for light and shadow, and the “performers” were entirely masks. Masks–no person underneath. Unselfconscious glittering hard masks. And what was “beautiful” then would never make it now. Tyranny of authenticity gets in the way.
So now that I’ve discovered RadioLab (years after everyone else has, as per usual with me), I’m working my way through the back catalogue. In the show on memory, they posit that re-membering is a creative act–we aren’t calling up some true essential moment that exists somewhere in our brain, we are creating a past moment anew. And the more we recall up that memory, the less true it is, the less “real”.
Ever since listening to that, I try not to remember or recall or sit in memories that are precious to me, so that I don’t corrupt them with each subsequent copy.