issues at the center of culture and politics

Item #1:  Without discounting the issue, I have the very atonal point to make — as I always with this particular statistical formulation…

in consideration of connecting “13 Reasons” to an uptik in teen suicides, and this article…

Lisa Horowitz, a co-author and researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health, noted that suicide is the second leading cause of death for U.S. teens and called it “a major public health crisis.” Her agency helped pay for the study.

In a perfect world, what would be the second misleading cause of death for US teens?  Or… I’d argue that suicide is the optimal answer, as a worse one would be… hm… some effects of outbreak of civil war or treatable malaria, which suggest something even worse going on in the culture and politics.
A similar spike in suicides amongst a group of an age group, say 80-90, would not bring the number up in the rankings.  The particular matrix cited is meaningless, even if emotionally charged for “action”.

Item #2:  From an oped by Eugene RobinsonOf course that does not mean that all of Trump’s supporters are racist.
If given a truth serum and disbarred from some political considerations, I’m not sure the op ed writer would disagree with this sentence.

As so happens there’s an corollary from this statement, you would have to suggest malicious accusation:
The president, primarily through his unconstrained rhetoric, has fostered an atmosphere in which hate-filled white supremacists feel motivated, vindicated and emboldened to act.

To, skipping over to an item found in the paper on an adjoining page, a more benign effect of the “grievance politics”:

He also said that “people are so proud to be using that beautiful word ‘God.’ And they’re using the word ‘God’ again and they’re not hiding from it. And they’re not being told to take it down and they’re not saying, ‘We can’t honor God.’ In God, we trust. So important.”
Trump claimed that before he took office, “people were not allowed or in some cases, foolishly ashamed to be using on stores ‘Merry Christmas, Happy Christmas.’ They’d say ‘Happy Holidays.’ They’d have red walls and you’d never see ‘Christmas.’ That was four years ago.”
“Take a look at your stores nowadays. It’s all ‘Merry Christmas’ again. They’re proud of it. I always said, ‘You’re going to be saying “Merry Christmas” again.’ And that’s what happened.”

Square the circle at your peril, political stategists.

Item #3:  Catching my eye in the cultural study of wherefore broadway musicals

In 2019, a central obsession of American culture is the reassessment of all of its previous obsessions. We are reviewing our stories with a skeptical eye and banishing outdated plots on feminist grounds.

Who the heck is “we” the writer is referring to?  Oddly, she answers the question in the same article:

And then there is “Pretty Woman: The Musical,” itself a modern “Pygmalion” story, which seems more ambivalent about its changes: Even as its creative team is whispering to theater reporters that the show holds a “feminist twist,” the poster coaxes the audience to “fall in love all over again.”

Not the theater audience, but the theater reviewer.  Or… her.  And her peers.

My obsession is a little different, which is an obsession over the troublesome effects of this obsession. The effects move from laudable enough to ridiculous in its demands.  Some jackass or other put it that “politics is downwind from culture” — explaining the appeals of Donald Trump, and I get the feeling in the Age of Trump there’s some stilted attempts to force the issue, concoct a culture which will bring a new awakening.

Oddly, the article makes the Pretty Woman Musical sound more appealing than the other remixes — (“Tootsie” seems a case of “stick with the original”… celebrate the politically incorrect.)  If we have the “man problem” for the “Cinderella” prostitute story, the man problem goes back to Prince Charming — or please to be explaining the inner life and thoughts of Prince Charming.  The NYT theater reviewer pokes at the problem — “less interested in strong female protagonists” — don’t want a bunch of damned Superwoman after all — than “interesting” ones.  What strikes me, though, is that if this is the case:

The “Pretty Woman” team seems to have decided that what would drag its story into the 21st century was for Edward to become more sincerely romantic. This helps make the show the rare update that is more offensive than the original. The musical opens with a dead prostitute in a dumpster, just like the movie, but this time, she is surrounded by the prostitutes and panhandlers of Hollywood Boulevard, dancing and singing about their hopes and dreams.

The disjointment of reactions does bring into the relief how dark the premise of the story is, easing the central problem everyone had with the original movie in white-washing the thing.  It’s now a dark comedy, right, instead of a smarmy light headed fare?

Leave a Reply