(Video) Why is modern art so bad?

October 19, 2015
Not bad

Not bad

A friend pointed me to this Prager University video, the subject of which deeply appeals to my Classical (some would say “reactionary”) soul: why does so much of modern art suck?

Having gone to several MFA exhibits by graduate students getting their degrees, I couldn’t agree more.

"Bad"

Bad


Theater of the Absurd: taxes force Spanish theater to sell porn to stay open

December 5, 2014

“Detrás de la puerta verde?”

Here’s another wonderful example of the ridiculous situations created when a bloated, unsustainable social welfare state forces politicians to tax anything and everything they can think of in order to feed the beast. In this case, a Spanish theater that presents the plays of Spain’s “Shakespeare” has to sell pornography to reduce its crippling tax burden:

Crippled by colossal tax rates and falling ticket sales, the Spanish cultural sector is taking creative action to cut its tax bill, including one theatre which has changed its main business to pornography to avoid having to pay high taxes.

The tax charged on cultural performances in Spain has shot up from eight to twenty-one percent since 2011 as the government attempts to balance the books, and has drawn a broader range of products into the local VAT-like ‘sales tax’. Some have noted the uneven application of the new higher taxes, which have hit high culture but not erotica and magazines.

Theatre director Karina Garantivá said: “It’s scandalous when cultural heritage is being taxed at 21 percent and porn at only at 4 percent. Something is wrong”. Her company, which performs works by the “Spanish Shakespeare” Pedro Calderón de la Barca has decided to circumvent the new, punitive taxes by registering as a distributor of pornographic magazines – and is offering free performances.

Punters buying €16 worth of hardcore-swingers magazine Gente Libre from the company receive a ‘free’ ticket to a performance of the highly regarded 17th century comic drama El Mágico Prodigioso.

Garantivá said the law as it stands made theatres feel as if they were “in a straitjacket, suffocated”, and that “We want people to ask what kind of a society makes this kind of decision. That they compare pornography and Calderón … and reach their own conclusions”.

A tax on “cultural performances?” That might make even gentry liberals here howl in outrage.

Ms. Garantivá asks the right question in the above highlight, but I have to wonder if someone raised in Spain’s all-encompassing social welfare system could easily come to the right answer? The problem is welfare statism itself, which spends far more than it can afford and faces continual pressure to spend even more to support an aging population, while dealing with a declining birth rate. The government’s increasing tax demands thus fall on a shrinking tax base, taking more per person. It’s a recipe for economic stagnation at best and collapse at worst. It’s a growing problem confronting much of Europe, but the people most burdened by the taxes often shriek the loudest at any effort to cut taxes and benefits to more rational levels. And we’re not all that far behind.

Meanwhile, you also have to wonder about politicians who tax “Shakespeare” more than smut.


Cult of Personality Watch: US Embassy becomes Obama Embassy

December 17, 2013

(Photo credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Sure, all US embassies and consulates have portraits of the current president hanging in the offices; he is, after all, Head of State. But… Well… This is just a bit much:

Large tapestry portraits of President Barack Obama were unveiled for guests at the U.S. Embassy in London over the weekend.

The recently-installed, large-scale tapestry portraits were created by National Medal of Arts winner and renowned American painter, photographer Chuck Close.

Call me old-fashioned, but if you want a large piece of art decorating the entry to a United States embassy, the first thing visitors see, why not a work that reflects the history of the United States? Christy’s “Signing of the Constitution,” for example, to celebrate one of our seminal events, or Rockwell’s “Abraham Delivering the Gettysburg Address,” in honor of what many feel is the moment of our second Founding? Or, to borrow Rockwell again (1), why not showcase “Freedom of Speech,” that most American of values, which both embodies and guards the right of a free people to rule themselves? Instead we get giant portraits of one man?

All art is communication, after all, especially public art, and art displayed in an embassy should reflect the nation’s values, how it sees itself, what it holds dear, its spiritual center, its… Oh, wait. I get it.

In this case, I guess it reflects the government’s spiritual center.  smiley headbang wall

Footnote:
(1) He was the all-American painter, after all.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Iconic firefighter photo almost excluded from 9/11 memorial exhibit

July 28, 2013
"Patriotism. How gauche."

“Patriotism. How gauche.”

Because, you see, it’s too “rah-rah American”:

According to Elizabeth Greenspan, author of the up coming book Battle for Ground Zero (St. Martin’s Press), Michael Shulan, creative director of the 9/11 Memorial Museum, thought about cutting the famed photo from Ground Zero of three firefighters raising the American flag amidst the rubble of the World Trade Center…because he thought it was too “rah-rah America.” Shulan said, “I really believe that the way America will look best, the way we can really do best, is to not be Americans so vigilantly and so vehemently.”

The “problem” was eventually solved by adding other pictures, “to undercut the myth of ‘one iconic moment…'”, according to the museum’s curator. See, the lone image was just too simplistic, hiding the complexities and meaning of what happened that day.

Just what part of nearly 3,000 Americans being massacred by Muslims waging  jihad is too simple for you, Mikey? What complexity, what nuance, what other perspective is lacking? The jihadists’? Point-of-view shots from the cockpits as the planes were about to slam into the towers? Should you have included a plaque of the text of Bin Laden’s 1996 fatwa declaring war on us? That would introduce some of your beloved meaning, letting the al Qaeda leader explain in his own words why 9/11 was only justice for our crimes, how we’re as much to blame by making them hate us. And who is to judge who is right? Complexity! Perspective! Meaning!

I hope you’ll forgive this simple American for being too “rah-rah,” Michael, but that single image carries more layers of meaning than I suspect you, trapped in a decadent, nihilist multiculturalism, could ever understand.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


(Video) Two more good ones from the Power Line contest

August 5, 2011

The contest may be over, but here are two more worthy entries in Power Line’s contest for the best entry that uses pop culture in any format to convey the seriousness of our national debt problem.

The first is a hip-hop video featuring babies with a message for the “adults” who run the country. I’m not a big fan of rap or hip-hop, but this made me laugh:

Speakin’ truth to power, yo!

The next is more serious, and I think it would make a very effective 1-minute commercial as it stands, or maybe trimmed to a 30-second spot. Regardless, I’d be surprised if some conservative group such as Club for Growth or Americans for Prosperity haven’t contacted the maker already to acquire the rights to “Doorbell.”

This one’s apparently going viral.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Power Line contest winner: “The Spending is Nuts!”

August 2, 2011

Here’s the winner of the Power Line contest for art in any medium that would best educate the public about our national debt problem. A modern-day Aesop’s Fable using squirrels and nuts to make it’s point, the video is by Justin Folk, who earns a cool $100,000 for his efforts:

I have to admit, this wasn’t my favorite (this one is), though I think it’s a worthy choice. It’s a bit long and lacks something of the laugh-out-loud humor that I think is so important when giving people a message that normally will scare them. (When you scare them, they may stop listening. Make them laugh, though… ) Folk, interestingly enough, creates the backgrounds for Andrew Klavan‘s marvelous videos, which I’ve often posted here. I think this would have been improved by having Andrew collaborate on the script.

But those are quibbles; I think it’s good. But, more importantly, I think this contest was a great idea, one that should be repeated. I wrote before that conservatives and libertarians need to engage in pop culture and the arts to get their views back into the marketplace of ideas where people are likely to see them and be influenced. For too long, that ground has been ceded to the liberals and the Left. (But I repeat myself), and efforts like this from Power Line or in general from sites such as Big Hollywood are invaluable.

I’m looking forward to next year’s contest.

PS: You can see all the best contest entries here.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Video: Digging a hole

July 27, 2011

Here’s another finalist in the Power Line contest. This one’s much more somber than the first two, but very effective:

Well done.

Although I’m trying to think of, as the video asserts, great nations brought to ruin by debt. The British Empire after the World Wars? But they had also suffered generational casualties. Europe overall, with the rise of social democracy?

Any other suggestions?

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Video: “Shovel Ready”

July 26, 2011

Another amusing video from the Power Line contest to see who could come up with the best way to explain our national debt problem via pop culture. This wasn’t a winner, but I liked it. Kind of a catchy tune. 

The Pelosi-Frank cameo might give me nightmares, though…

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Video: The Debt Star

July 26, 2011

For most of the past summer, the Power Line blog has been running a contest offering $100,000 to the person or group who could, in any medium, best illustrate our national debt problem. The judges have made their decisions, and the winners are being gradually announced. My favorite so far is number eight, called “Weight.” I like to think of it as “The Debt Star,” for reasons you’ll see:

It carries a serious message and yet made me laugh. Well done!

You can see more finalists here.

One of the problems conservatism has had in modern America in getting its message across has been the surrender of popular culture and art to the Left. Countering this is one reason Andrew Breitbart founded Big Hollywood. The Power Line contest is another strategy in that same battle. (1) But it will only work if you spread the word (rather than the wealth). As John Hinderaker writes:

My request to you is: steal these videos! Email them to your friends; post them on Facebook; tweet them; if you have a web site, put them up. The idea of the Power Line Prize contest was to stimulate the creation of a lot of new ways to educate people about the debt crisis, not just a few. So the more people who see these videos, hear the songs, and view the other media, the better.

I’m looking forward to the rest.

Footnotes:
(1) Oh, no! Violent, martial rhetoric! Run!

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Presented in Evidence of our Eventual Doom: $600 grand for a gurgling toad

April 5, 2011

I’m all for odd and amusing public art, but not for $600,000 of federal taxpayer money:

Decried as wasteful spending that will be seen by just a couple thousand of daily workers who arrive on bus shuttles, foes have tried to delay the decision, expected tomorrow, April 1. But in an E-mail, an Army Corps of Engineers official said that the decision can’t be held up because it would impact completion of the huge project.

The City of Alexandria just announced that there are four works of art being considered and that a final decision needs to be made fast. The artwork was put on display for public comment from March 24 to today. The Alexandria News first reported the hasty announcement to decide a winner.

The schedule surprised some who thought that the costly artwork project was on the “back burner,” according to critic Donald Buch, a member of the mayor’s advisory committee overseeing the Mark Center project. “What’s the rush?” he asked.

What’s the rush?? Well, I tell you, mister: What red-blooded federal worker wouldn’t want to see a giant statue of a fairy riding a toad on their morning commute — with sound effects!

Your tax dollars at work:

via The Jawa Report

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The power of Nazi propaganda

December 5, 2010

Here’s an interesting short documentary from Reason.TV on an exhibit of Nazi propaganda art and literature at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.  Reason’s Michael Moynihan interviews curator Steve Luckert not only about why Nazi propaganda was so effective, but also the relevance the study of it has for us today:


Switzerland protects child rapist

July 12, 2010

They’re refusing to extradite Roman Polanski to the US. Why? Because they can’t be sure there isn’t a flaw in the extradition request, even though they can’t find one:

The 76-year-old French-Polish film director Roman Polanski will not be extradited to the USA. The freedom-restricting measures against him have been revoked. This announcement was made by Mrs Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, head of the Swiss Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP), in Berne on Monday. The reason for the decision lies in the fact that it was not possible to exclude with the necessary certainty a fault in the US extradition request, although the issue was thoroughly examined. Moreover, also the principles of State action deriving from international public order were taken into account.

Oh, for Pete’s sake! The Swiss are basing their denial on two technicalities and the remote possibility that there might be a flaw in the request – which had been “thoroughly examined.” Don’t forget what Polanksi did: he stands convicted of drugging and anally raping a 13-year old girl. And yet Madame Widmer-Schlumpf is letting him go on the basis of a possibly uncrossed T?

Ed has it right: this is just cover. The real reason they’ve committed this judicial atrocity is to please the entertainment industry and the EU Left, who apparently think drugging and sodomizing a child can be excused for the sake of art.

Congratulations, Switzerland! With this one move, your government has placed your nation on a level with amoral banana-republics the world over.


Art therapy is a root cause of terrorism

December 28, 2009

First it’s finger paints, then it’s plastic explosives. When will the madness stop?

Two of the four leaders allegedly behind the al Qaeda plot to blow up a Northwest Airlines passenger jet over Detroit were released by the U.S. from the Guantanamo prison in November, 2007, according to American officials and Department of Defense documents. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the Northwest bombing in a Monday statement that vowed more attacks on Americans.

American officials agreed to send the two terrorists from Guantanamo to Saudi Arabia where they entered into an “art therapy rehabilitation program” and were set free, according to U.S. and Saudi officials.

The real madness, of course, is in releasing committed jihadis who’ve been trained to fool their interrogators, believe deeply that they are fighting for Allah and will be rewarded in the afterlife for it (Qur’an 9:111), and understand the Islamic doctrine of taqiyyareligiously sanctioned lying.

Nope, instead we release them to Saudi Arabia, the country from which 15 of the 19 9-11 hijackers came from and the home of the bin Laden family, where they can be deprogrammed by Islamic scholars (who practice the same Salafist brand of Islam as bin Laden) and healed by drawing unicorns and making ceramic ashtrays. What could go wrong?

Well….

This is a rare case when “I blame George W. Bush” actually has some meaning, since it was under President Bush that this misbegotten idea was hatched. And here’s a chance for President Obama to genuinely fix something by ending this stupid “release terrorists back to terrorist-supporting countries” program and keeping them locked up in Guantanamo, world opinion be damned.

Oh, and don’t move them to Illinois, either.

(via Gabriel Malor)

RELATED: The Weekly Standard says the ABC report was a bit off. Legal Insurrection provides some legal context for the release program and points out that Justice Scalia was prophetic in his dissent to the Boumediene case. Fausta is shocked that art therapy doesn’t cure jihadism.


Symbolic?

October 18, 2009

HOPE is a lie.

Kind of fitting, when you think about it.

(via Jules Crittenden)


Would-be jihadis demand removal of 9/11 statue

September 15, 2008

Of course, it’s all in the name of peace and tolerance.