Monday, March 22, 2010

Boys' club cliche used again

A favoured angle in reporting about the arts is to find evidence of sexism. Take this brief article, about the lamentable lack of women painters and subjects in the 2010 Archibald Prize.

The title says the competition is a "boy's club with brushes", implying that there is some sort of concerted effort by the blokes to exclude women. However, nothing in the actual article confirms that characterization. Basically, those interviewed cite women's lack of time due to family commitments, and male assertiveness.

The fact that such a hackneyed and misleading title has been used shows just how entrenched PC feminism is in the media. It's pretty much a default position when reporting on anything to do with women.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

O'Loughlin out of line with Bindi crack

Australian comic Fiona O'Loughlin has caused a great deal of controversy because of her off colour, offhand remarks about Bindi Irwin. Amazingly, the story has gone global.

This ruckus is not unlike the Chaser team's sketch about kids with cancer, although not as extreme.

Events like these are quite odd. Australian comedians are characteristically nasty and abrasive. They are forever saying things that are provocative and offensive to many and this is not reported by the media. But every now and then one of these comments is deemed way beyond the pale and they are widely condemned for it.

There does seem to be a common element in both these scandals, though. The targets of the alleged comedy were kids. So, in future, comics should remember to lay off the whippersnappers.

That said, I suspect that if the child in question is the offspring of a conservative politician or public figure, they'll still be able to get away with it. (Of course, they'll still cause much offence. The media just won't pick up the scent and give the outrage oxygen.)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Sean Penn defends Hugo Chavez, endorses totalitarianism

In the hilarious satire Team America: World Police, actor Sean Penn was mercilessly parodied as a vain, naive fool who could only see good in the reign of Saddam Hussein:

Last year I went to Iraq. Before Team America showed up, it was a happy place. They had flowery meadows and rainbow skies, and rivers made of chocolate, where the children danced and laughed and played with gumdrop smiles.

Many of the other liberals who were similarly mocked in the movie remained silent, or just laughed it off. But Penn didn't. Proving himself to be completely lacking in a sense of humour, he fired off a nasty letter to the film's creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

Here's another example of his po-faced stupidity and love of totalitarianism: Not only did he recently defend Hugo Chavez, he thinks that reporters who call him a dictator should be jailed.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Corey Haim overdose the latest of many

Hollywood is not particularly arty in the purest sense of the word, since its culture is very concerned with making money. Still, it's a honey pot for actors - and they are certainly artists, even if they only appear in film and TV screens and never don tights and tread the boards in a play by the Bard!

And like many artists, they certainly do like their drugs! Abuse of both prescription and illegal drugs is rife among actors, and barely a day goes by without another one being busted for possession, committing a crime to support their habit, or dying from an overdose. The latest sad tale of this kind: the death of 80s child star Corey Haim.

He comes from a crop of young actors who were particularly troubled. They were burdened with huge fame while still very young and emotionally immature. A high proportion of them just never seemed to get over this, and have struggled to lead normal lives as are result.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Another politically correct Oscars

The Oscars have become so political now that they really don't mean much at all. Last year, for example, the Best Actor award went to Sean Penn for his portrayal of murdered gay activist Harvey Milk. But Mickey Rourke's turn in The Wrestler was vastly superior.

And this year the Best Film went to The Hurt Locker, and Best Director to Kathryn Bigelow. This was just crazy. Surely Avatar was the better film, and James Cameron the more accomplished director. Okay, the script was a bit silly, what with its dark green subtext, floating mountains, "unobtanium" and all. However, it was surely the most visually stunning movie ever made; a real "game changer". Nowadays, with all the amazing technology already routinely utilized by film-makers, this was no mean feat. It was not unlike a hundred meter sprinter breaking the nine second barrier without drugs.

But this was all ignored in favour of making a pro-feminist statement, neatly timed to coincide with International Women's Day.


Monday, March 8, 2010

Spencer Tunick needs some new ideas

Lately there's been a bit of a buzz here in Sydney about this massive congregation of naked people at the Sydney Opera House. Apparently over 5000 people were happy to get their kits off for art.

I don't want to sound like a wowser, but I really can't see the point. Tunick has done this innumerable times before in scenic locations all over the world. It was original when it started, but it's really starting to get tired now.

Tunick is just milking one idea, and trading off his reputation. Of course each city will want to have one of their landmarks covered in naked bodies. And there will never be a shortage of people who find it exciting to strip in public. So he's got a very clever, self-perpetuating method of income generation happening. It's almost a scam! I can certainly understand why he would want to keep doing it.

Still, it is disappointing for someone who calls himself an artist. They are supposed to grow and develop, and try out new things, aren't they?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Trent Hotten accuses Premier Keneally of censorship

Not surprisingly Trent Hotten's portrait of Dennis Ferguson has attracted a lot of condemnation, including from NSW Premier Kristina Keneally.

This seems fair enough. Politicians are people, too. And everyone is allowed to have an opinion in a democracy.

But the painter doesn't like the idea at all:

"But as the premier of the state, to make a comment - in a sense - that is a censorship of a piece of artwork I find is quite appalling," he told ABC News Online.

So just making a comment is censorship? Sounds like he's the one advocating censorship to me.

Another irony: The portrait is described as depicting Collins "shielding Ferguson from a media scrum". I can't see that from the photo of it here, but I presume that's because it's not showing the entire picture. So I'll take the journo's word for it.

And this characterization of their plight is completely at odds with reality. Collins has actually sought media attention for Ferguson in the past. Remember that notorious shot of him and Ferguson on Coogee Beach? Collins was the one who submitted it to the media.

And surely just posing for the Hotten's Archibald Prize entry is in itself is another cry for attention. It's a bit rich to say that Collins is Ferguson's defender. He's more like his publicity agent - and a very good one at that.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Archibald Prize entry portraying Dennis Ferguson

One thing I've always found a bit creepy about artists is their attitude to criminals. They tend to think that it's somehow insightful to sympathize and identify with them. Here's an example:

Trent Hotten has painted a picture of convicted pedophile Dennis Ferguson posing with his mate and supporter (and convicted bank robber) Brett Collins and submitted it for consideration for the Archibald Prize:

''Everybody hates it. My wife said it made her want to vomit. I've had threats made against me. Everyone told me not to put it in, but I think it was something that had to be said. I felt very moved by the way that both men have been treated.''

Hotten portrays Collins as
a heroic figure shielding a sinister-looking Ferguson from TV crews.

So Hotten is completely oblivious to the damage the pair have done to other people's lives. He's just concerned about the way they have been treated. And they are the victims as far as he's concerned.

Sure, the media have gone crazy with Dennis Ferguson. He is so despised by people generally that he's sure to beef up the ratings every time he's shown on the television. And there's certainly some cynicism in repeatedly doing stories about him. However, it's hard to have sympathy for him considering what he's done - and repeatedly.

Ultimately, I believe the painting reveals more about Hotten himself than it does about his subjects and their plight.