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Archive for the ‘Television’ Category

Sounds carry historical and political significance, even when they are intended as pure entertainment. Alternative meanings shimmer just beneath the surface as accepted meanings—safer meanings—give way to the attentive listener. Consider the sound of fireworks. According to Wikipedia, fireworks “were originally invented in ancient China in the 12th century to scare away evil spirits, as a natural extension of the Chinese invention of gunpowder.”

In the twenty-first century, fireworks and other forms of explosive entertainment continue to fulfill their ancient mandate to scare away “evil spirits.” When we pack a blanket and join our family and friends on the beach to experience the fireworks, we banish loneliness, depression and tiredness, as well as our anxieties about the economy, our worries about the country’s values and the concerns we have about the continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (more…)

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Photo by Robin Locke Monda

Pat Buchanan’s recurring role on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” has got to be some kind of border violation. And I mean that in the best possible way! It’s great to watch Buchanan trying to apply nuance to his irrational, nativist positions in the face of thinking, intelligent people from both the left and the right. The “Morning Joe” show is proof that, (1) not all Republicans are nut jobs, and (2) not all Democrats shoot themselves in the foot.

MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” models Democrats and Republicans communicating with intelligence, humor and a willingness to listen. Think what could be accomplished in a truly cooperative congressional environment! We could disarm the big mouths of the radical right while repairing America’s foundation and its vision for the future. (more…)

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Performance art, as a practice, may have found its fullest realization in the work of Saturday Night Live (SNL)’s Tina Fey. Fey’s channeling of Sarah Palin’s character is uncanny. In her re-staging of Katie Couric’s Palin interview and Palin’s performance at the Vice Presidential “debate,” Fey has merged the absurd-in-the-real to the really absurd, producing a composite memory of Sarah Palin that defies separation. When Sarah Palin appears on my television screen I see Tina Fey’s performance of Sarah Palin, rather than Sarah Palin’s performance of Sarah Palin. Fey has altered my perception. She—along with Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton and Darrell Hammond as John McCain—has seamlessly infiltrated the mainstream political flabber-jabber.

Saturday Night Live, along with a handful of other comedy shows, has become the best political commentary and performance art ever. Part of its influence comes from the cheerful participation of real politicians in the parodying of their own personas. (more…)

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A. Culture-Jamming:
Stop watching the SNL Obama / Clinton split “campaign ad.” (Then you won’t laugh so hard you pee yourself.)

B. Performance Art:
Stop watching the Chris Matthews grilling of right-winger Kevin James, who hasn’t got a clue who Neville Chamberlain is. (Then you won’t laugh so hard you wet your pants.)

C. Theater of the Absurd:
Stop thinking about Hillary Clinton’s continuing “campaign” for the presidency. After all, she deserves the nomination, right? Besides, she’s the only one who’s reaching white people. (Really. Stop thinking about it. It’ll just piss you off.)

D. Art Exhibition:
Forget about politics and check out some really good bad art. It ain’t bad when it’s this good. (Besides, it’s hung near the bathroom.)

Above: Running Mates by Anonymous, acrylic on canvas. (I made that up.)

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