The recent Hollywood revelations revealed much about our actors and actresses and even musicians and artists in ways I hadn’t really thought about- and it was in front of our eyes all the time. Ambition is pretty much a blinding experience. Look at actors and consider what they do. They play other peoples’ lives whether non-fictional or fictional. They may not even like the roles they play but they consider themselves as “neutral.” That basically means that in order to advance they have to put aside their personal feelings and concentrate on their “role.” It’s not much of a stretch then to see even “non-consensual” sexuality as being part of their persona. It’s an open secret for decades that actors audition on the directors’ or producers’ “couch.” We common folks are not exposed to the personal habits of the elite as we rarely ever see them except at an event. Having money blinds folks to the worst foibles in our society because to advance in a capitalist society one must step over bodies to get ahead. This is not to absolve sexual predators- it is to gain an understanding of the microcosm of Hollywood culture that reflects the larger culture of our society. We as a people are subservient to the whims of our “elite betters.” We are brainwashed into believing we are “serving” our own interests when we don’t assert our humanity. And that is a horrid lesson.
Over the years I have formed opinions about movies and books. While certainly a good movie can compete with a book, I still enjoy books much more than movies or TV.
The reasons why are personal to me I suppose and each of us view the entertainment industry differently. The most obvious thing is that books allow the mind’s eye to fill in details that are presented by the book’s author as opposed to the filmmaker’s exact depiction of the subject. Each one of us has different interpretations of words and images, depending solely on the imagination and experiences to guide on how we see what a book or movie presents to each individual.
Movies and TV are the filmmaker’s vision and while can be interpreted in different ways, there can be no doubt about which images are projected to the brain. The same thing I suppose could be said about books but as I said before words if used correctly are much richer than even a colorful projection of images and spoken words.
The other major difference for me is that movies and TV are passive entertainments, the only requirement being that one doesn’t fall asleep watching. Even if somebody is half awake, a book can electrify the brain in ways that images cannot.
The other important thing to note is that while an image “is worth a thousand words” it takes thousands of images to be equivalent to a good book. Film makers usually have an hour and a half or so to get their message or entertain while a good book can be read and reread many times and present different meanings to the reader.
So give me a good book and I’ll be happy!
“Clapton is God” was written all over the world on buildings reflecting the guitarist’s influence on rock, rhythm and blues and other genres of modern music. It’s ironic when each album was released, Clapton wasn’t necessarily recognized as a seminal force or a technical master. Even with the release of Layla- the greatest rock and roll record ever made- didn’t bring the adulation that his contemporaries enjoyed. Part of that had to do with the aspects of Clapton’s low keyed sensibilities as a human being first and a musician who just wanted to play guitar.
The documentary below gives a good hearing to the guitar virtuoso and his influence on the rock world.
This documentary touts the legacy of Apple Corporation to the music and counter culture of the 60s and beyond. At the time the idea of signing unknown musical talent to recording contracts was unheard of- the Beatles wanted to share their good fortune with others in the music business. Make no mistake that Apple was a result of them paying confiscatory personal taxes in Great Britain, who’s tax system favored corporations who created jobs. Among the artists they signed included James Taylor and Mary Hopkins.
This is a documentary on David Bowie’s early years. Has the usual interviews with folks who knew him or played in his early bands. Well worth the effort to see it even if Bowie wasn’t a favorite. David Bowie legacy was that you could do anything in the rock world and opened up other bands to many possibilities…
As many of you have noticed I’m a big fan of Eno. The appeal to me as having once been an artist, somewhat of a musician and numerous other pursuits in my life is that he represented along with Bowie and even Iggy Pop an artistic vision of entertainment and therefore self discovery that is multi-dimensional instead of a one trick pony. This is an important direction for mankind that bleeds over into other areas such as environment, economics and yes, even politics. I think it is important to strip away pre-conceived notions of what a profession and hence what an individual contributes to society. The joke about capitalism is that there is no room for thinkers, for dreamers unless you are making money for your masters. My vision of life is that we are here to enjoy ourselves, our family, our friends, and even others we don’t personally know, not cogs in some machine that grinds up bodies and spits out hamburger. That vision of life colors what I see, what I hear and what I say. In short, achievement is not a profit/debit world but one where the experience of life itself is to be celebrated not looked upon as drudgery…
As a straight male, I didn’t identify with David Bowie’s image but loved his music as he had much to say about the world we live in. Rock musicians before Bowie were pretty much a one dimensional persona and he was an artist in the true sense of the word. His contemporary musicians rarely wrote their own songs with the exception of the truly big acts like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, Jefferson Airplane and a few others.
Bowie was different too as he was more than just a front man for a band- smooth singer, songwriter, saxophone, piano and guitar player, producer, designer of sets, album covers, not to mention his persona changes that reflected his changing personalities. All these added up to an interesting mix of styles that were imitated but never quite perfected. He was creative in the world of music that often as not didn’t make the kind of money the bigger bands brought to the corporate pocketbook.
I would rank his Diamond Dogs album based on Orwell’s 1984 as his best as every song was a hit and had something to say. He wrote it in the hopes having it done as a Broadway musical but was deemed too depressing for the contemporary shallowness of theater.
His albums starting from the Man Who Sold the World to Let’s Dance in 1983 were some of the most creative works in the history of music. Each album represented a different and highly reflective view of an artist such as Picasso who changed styles like we change socks.
The video below tries to capture the essence of Bowie but fails on many levels, ignoring his works and focusing more on the borderline folks around him rather than those who actually made the music with him. For me, that comes off as pretty superficial but it is worth viewing only as another view of a man who was truly a “changling.”
I plowed into the third season of Netflix’s House of Cards with Kevin Spacey. If you haven’t watched it, you’ve missed not only a good script and acting, you get to ponder some of you preconceived notions of living in this “democracy.” Some will surely fall for blind obedience and while that is your choice, you short change your family, your country, yourself…
“There will be rebels. They will live in the shadows. They will be the renegade painters, sculptors, poets, writers, journalists, musicians, actors, dancers, organizers, activists, mystics, intellectuals and other outcasts who are willing to accept personal sacrifice. They will not surrender their integrity, creativity, independence and finally their souls. They will speak the truth. The state will have little tolerance of them. They will be poor. The wider society will be conditioned by mass propaganda to write them off as parasites or traitors. They will keep alive what is left of dignity and freedom. Perhaps one day they will rise up and triumph. But one does not live in poverty and on the margins of society because of the certainty of success. One lives like that because to collaborate with radical evil is to betray all that is good and beautiful. It is to become a captive. It is to give up the moral autonomy that makes us human. The rebels will be our hope.”
Chris Hedges, got a BA in English Literature at Colgate University, got a Masters of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School, journalist, author, educator