Thursday, April 29, 2010

Firass Dirani's glamorous role

It's quite intriguing that a lot of actors and celebrities enjoy rubbing shoulders with criminals - or at least getting close to the periphery of the criminal underworld. Of course, there might be a good professional reason for this. They might be preparing for roles as bad guys in crime dramas, and need to get a closer look at the "dark side".

But I think the main reason is that they are simply attracted to it. They find it glamorous and exciting.

And they're not the only ones. Young women do as well, if the results of this year's Cleo Bachelor of the Year competition are any guide. The winner is Firass Dirani, a young actor who became famous in the true crime series about Kings Cross called The Golden Mile playing the "colourful Sydney identity" and nightclub owner John Ibrahim.

I doubt very much he would have won had he been playing one of the cops in the show.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Banksy's grafitti removal in Melbourne not a unique event

Local art snobs are surely rolling their eyes about the painting over of renowned grafitti artist Banksy's "priceless" rat in Melbourne. It would no doubt confirm their disdain for Aussies as a bunch of uncultured know-nothing yokels. But they'd have to say that about Brits as well, because exactly the same mistake occurred there back in 2007.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

South Park, Islamist threats and Theo van Gogh

One thing I've noticed about the denizens of the arts world is how cowardly they are in relation to religious intimidation. They are more than willing to condemn and provoke Christians at every opportunity, but are very careful not to say anything critical of Islam.

They like to claim that's because Christianity is the more pervasive and oppressive religion. But clearly it's mainly because they know that Christians won't fight back. They might complain, but that's about it. And they are extremely unlikely to choose violent retribution.

If you dare to mock, condemn or criticize Islam, however, there's a real possibility you may suffer as a result! Several years ago, a Dutch doco-maker called Theo Van Gogh paid with his life for offending an Islamist. I can't recall any local, Aussie artists complaining about that. (There might have been a few lone voices, but overall the silence was deafening.)

Now, the creators of South Park have provoked the ire of Islamic revolutionaries. What the cartoonists did hardly sounded provocative. And compared to what they usually dish out it was very mild indeed.

Chillingly, the Islamists have referred to the death of Van Gogh in their online statement. It will be interesting to see how artists react. It would be heartening to see a shift in attitudes and they start to condemn the Islamists rather than the artists. But I doubt it. I suspect they will be obediently politically correct as usual - particularly if some sort of violent action does occur (which is a slim possibility).

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The artist is present, as well as some perverts

Some of today's artists like to use nude models in their works. Take Spencer Tunick, who seems not to use anything else! But they don't want this to be seen as anything smutty or degrading. They are always at pains to deny that they're using it in a voyeuristic, exploitative way to draw an audience. And art lovers aren't like that anyway, are they? They are always driven by higher impulses such as a desire to be confronted somehow, or a willingness to perceive something differently.

Sadly, the audience itself often doesn't go along with these lofty goals. Take this story about an exhibit at New York's Museum of Modern Art called "The Artist is Present".

The live nude models in it have proved to be very popular indeed. And while most of those viewing them have politely kept their distance, some have not - insisting on pinching and fondling the models.

It's ironic that pornographers are so often accused of sexual exploitation, while artists and curators almost never are. But I'd say these models are suffering more, since this kind of physical treatment (which is basically quite serious sexual harassment) was never part of the deal.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Red Fragments art controversy in Melbourne

It seems that not a week goes by without at least one story about some ultra-provocative state funded art exhibition. The latest controversy of this kind is the Red Fragments artwork.

The work includes representations of blood from various sources including dead babies, decapitated neo-nazi victims and dead baby seals. While the "artist" has clearly made a big effort to shock people with the content, it doesn't look like there's much actual artistic - and dare I say it, aesthetic - skill used in creating the work.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle defends the piece with the usual cant about art having a duty to push the boundaries, etc. Bizarrely, he adds that without this kind of creative expression the city would be "joyless".

Eh? Purported baby's blood slapped on panels hardly sounds joyful to me!

Predictably, the alleged artwork also has a climate change theme.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The late Corin Redgrave, acting and left-wing politics

Corin Redgrave, a member of that famous acting family, died recently. He was in many films but the one I always remember him in was In the Name of the Father. He was brilliant, playing a ruthless British cop absolutely determined to get a conviction in a terrorism case regardless of the truth.

Like a lot of actors, he was a leftie. But he was actually even more extreme in this regard than most, since he was an active communist for much of his life.

He himself believed that he was blacklisted as a result. But I doubt it would have harmed his career all that much. In the British theatre, film and TV scene extremism might have been frowned upon, but being to the left of the political spectrum certainly wasn't a sin!

I find the fact that he was both really bolshie and also so good at what he did really interesting. Acting, like so many creative pursuits, is very personal and individualistic. Sure, you are working with others to create something bigger than your own contribution, but you really are focused on your own performance more than anything.

It's also a highly competitive profession in which some are rewarded lavishly while most get next to nothing for the same effort and level of skill. So it's very elitist, stratified - the opposite of what socialism purports to endorse.

It seems to be a real paradox, this. Or maybe it's not paradoxical at all ... Who knows?

Ultimately, I think it's got something to do with the fact that lefties generally haven't really grown up. They believe that we all have a right to live in a utopia, and that the state should be responsible for everything. It's a very immature belief system.

But it's that same childishness that enables them to exercise their imaginations so fully. And that's a crucial part of acting.

In short, even though leftist rhetoric is all about social equality, it's ultimately pretty self-indulgent. It's also highly emotional, not rational. Needless to say, being highly emotional is a definite advantage in the performing arts.

There must be other factors. But I think these are the main reasons why Corin Redgrave (and many other notable actors, for that matter - for example Sean Penn) gravitated so strongly to the political left.