Monday, January 30, 2012

The White Divers of Broome the usual race-obsessed fare?

The denizens of Artsville, Orstraya, are intensely, relentlessly and simplistically obsessed with race. Like the sad and bitter ol' commies who see everything in terms of class, these poor little poppets are pretty much incapable of seeing people as individuals before they are members of a racial group. This tends to make them blowhards and bores -- particular in packs, which they feel most comfortable in. And it often greatly reduces the complexity and power of their work.

This is depressing, particularly in the case of drama. Call me old fashioned, but I always thought that this form worked best when ambivalently exploring power struggles between complex and contradictory individuals.

But now, it seems you've just gotta have a black versus white theme with a clearly PC angle and not only will you get your play financed far more easily but the critics will be much more positively disposed towards it too. 

Take the The White Divers of Broome, which is playing as part of The Perth International Arts Festival.

I haven't seen this play, nor will I. So I am coming from prejudice here. But much as I'd like to say otherwise, my prejudice against the Aussie theatre scene is always confirmed. 

That's why I reckon it's a lay down misere that this production will have an overtly preachy and didactic tone and cardboard characters including eeevil racist imperialists and feisty, salt of the Earth lefties and non-white activists.

Critics will dutifully respond by saying how searingly insightful it is, and still relevant today -- what with the Abbott-incited race riot on Australia Day, etc, etc, blah blah blah, ad bloody nauseam

But hey, if anyone has other ideas, please feel free to add them in comments below.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Geoffrey Rush's pompous Australian of the Year acceptance speech

It was kind of surprising that Geoffrey Rush was named Australian of the Year. There's no doubt that many Aussies think he has little to offer the role and that he has been over-rewarded already.

But there were certainly no surprises in the content of his acceptance speech. He politically vogued up a storm on many of the usual issues such as gay marriage, climate change, and asylum seekers.

I suspect the panel had a very good idea that he would do this enthusiastically, and this was one of the main reasons he got the gong. If you look at the past winners of this honour they tend to be of the cultural Left, after all. And while there are a few who could be described as apolitical, there are certainly buggerall conservatives.

As well as being true to form on these issues, he said this:

"The stories we tell ourselves as adults and to our children, in the communal dark, have a serious importance."

Obviously he was alluding mainly to art forms such as film and theatre. But I don't think it would be verballing him to say he thinks that pretty much every art form is "important".

Having met, and even worked with, many arty types over the years I know this attitude is pretty much standard. They really do think that what they do is "important". They also think that it can change society.

On both counts I believe they're seriously deluded. Art is not important. It's valuable. And it usually never changes anything. It's true that there have been some great politically themed works that have altered the course of history somewhat. But in the vast majority of cases art never has any real, demonstrable impact.

Sure, the arts can move people, make them laugh, offer some unusual and interesting insights, maybe even get them to think a little differently. But when all's said and done they're pretty small beer compared to the things that really change the world like politics, science, medicine and -- particularly these days -- global finance.

Look at Rush's own filmography. There's a lot of fine work acting work there, and some very enjoyable movies. But many of them, particularly his recent pirate-themed blockbusters, are basically pretty mindless entertainment.

And think about the Australian film "industry" as a whole. Not only do Aussies generally lack enthusiasm for homegrown filmic fare; they make a real point of avoiding the overtly political stuff that Rush would like to see even more of.

It's a sad irony that the more passionately PC a film-maker is, the greater the likelihood his film will get financed and ultimately made here -- but the less likely it is that it will find a big audience. That's basically because people are sick and tired of being cinematically hectored about how sexist, racist, homophobic, environmentally unsound and generally bad, wrong, thick and worthless they are. So the odds that he will actually change people's attitudes are about one millionth of diddly squat.

I mean, if all the movies about how racist we are as a nation had even a tiny fraction of the social impact intended by their creators everyone in Oz would be wearing black armbands, wouldn't they?

Really, luvvies in particular and artists in general should stop taking themselves so seriously.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Tempest not banned by Tucson conservatives after all

Yesterday I was reading The Australian and one story stood out as being quite unusual. It was a brief item about how Shakespeare's play The Tempest had been banned in schools in Tucson, Arizona. The thing that made it noticeable was that conservatives were behind this push:

The ban is part of a battle over Arizona's treatment of its Mexican-immigrant population, and the extent to which cultural and racial differences should be examined in class.

The Tempest is studied in many US schools for its perceived insights into racism and colonialism. One of its protagonists is Caliban, a black slave on an island ruled by Prospero, the exiled Duke of Milan.

Yet the play has fallen foul of conservative Arizonans disgusted that state schools offer classes in what they regard as increasingly radicalised Mexican-American studies.

This did strike me as somewhat odd, because I do tend to associate censorship with the politically correct Left. Not only do they do it overtly from time to time (such as with the Bolt case here in Australia) but they've been indulging in it covertly for decades all over the Anglosphere by characterizing any kind of speech or writing they don't like as sexist, racist, or homophobic, etc. They are particularly angry about many works in the Western canon. Those lefty quackademics sure as hell loathe those "dead white males" -- Shakespeare in particular. 

Still, I accepted that the story -- which has been reported by many big mainstream media outlets -- was true, and conservatives were guilty this time. Perhaps this was the exception that proved the rule? Or maybe they were trying to be trendily leftist themselves -- you know, by "subverting the dominant paradigm"?

Anyway I did a bit of Googling and discovered a blog post stating that the story, which seems to have come from this Salon article, was not accurate after all:

Sensing that Biggers’ story did not sound correct, nor comport with my understanding of the law in this subject area here in Arizona, I was able to make contact with officials at TUSD over the Martin Luther King extended holiday weekend and spoke with an official on Monday, even though the school system was officially closed. It is an understatement to say they were dismayed and concerned; it is “disingenuous to say ‘banned’” said Cara Rene, Communications Director for the TUSD.

The author of that particular post links to this press release from the educational organization accused of the ban, which opens with this clear statement: "Tucson Unified Schools District has not banned any books as has been widely and incorrectly reported."

And later

Other books have also been falsely reported as being banned by TUSD. It has been incorrectly reported that William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” is not allowed for instruction. Teachers may continue to use materials in their classrooms as appropriate for the course curriculum. “The Tempest” and other books approved for curriculum are still viable options for instructors.

Hopefully The Oz and all those other big outfits will make a correction and admit they were wrong. I doubt they will, though.

It's understandable that they ran with it in the first place. When you are prejudiced against conservatives and believe that they are the more censorious group you're more likely to believe such a claim.

It's depressing that there are so many people like this in the meeja, even those in the thrall of the eeevil Rupert Murdoch. Still, it's also a little heartening to know that my prejudices were confirmed, and that conservatives turned out not to be guilty in this case.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

As the World Tipped is pompous, predictable and unoriginal

As the World Tipped is the latest lemon from the warmist wankers of Oz theatre. As you'll see from the video below it's basically just one not bad idea flogged to death over a drawn out period at massive expense. Sure, it might look pretty specky at first when a stage tilts on its axis with real live actors scrambling for safety, but when that's basically all that happens for the entire show the thrill is inevitably lost. 

That said, the crew do a great job in pulling this off and the performers throw their all into it. There are some nice visual effects, too.

It's the script that sucks -- and hard. There's no thematic complexity or development in it. It's got nothing new or original to say. It's just another long, hectoring bleet from some spoiled brat blowhards with far more money (much of it yours, BTW) than talent.

The po-faced exhortation at the end that we DEMAND CHANGE is sooo predictable, isn't it? They've got only one shot in their locker, and they just keep firing it over and over. Hell, if there were any justice, they would have run out of ammo long ago. But governments keep throwing money at them so they can keep on buying more!

And isn't it telling that it's not "change" on its own but "demand change". That's because the production's creators and their fellow travellers in the audience have decided they ain't changin' for nobody. They want to be the ones calling the shots, see. 

The inclusion of this word reveals a truly toxic level of sanctimony as well as a nauseating sense of entitlement: We, the superior, sensitive arty set just have to continue complaining about things; keep shrieking our demands. They, the brainless proles, have to actually make the changes.

Apart from the obvious odium of this born-to-rule bolshevism, it's just so bloody boring, isn't it? The public turned off years ago, and there's no doubt that even many of the denizens of Artsville itself are getting mighty sick of this crap.

Still, the deep green lefty warmists maintain their stranglehold on arts funding in Australia (and abroad) so it will keep being thrown at such pompous projects for a long while yet, I'm afraid.