Up With Populist People
My new favorite blog is Mark Blankenship's The Critical Condition, and not just because he sparked up my Lazy Sunday by posting his distressingly catchy Silence of the Lambs hip-hop track right after a post about Eminem's imminent return. I love it because even though he's often critiquing theater for the New York Times, he's not afraid to simultaneously feed his pop culture jones. And why not? If someone has to check out Celebrity Autobiography or Perez Hilton Saves the Universe, then all the better if they own a copy of Suzanne Somers' "Touch Me," (everyone should) or check in on the pink poseur several times a day anyway.
At this point, Pop culture is so pop that VH1 is already loving up the naughty aughties while we're still waist deep in their muck, and FakeSarahPalin has 4,263 followers on Twitter (Yes, I'm one of them). With troupes like Les Freres Corbusier eliding easily between Schoolhouse Rock and Ibsen, it ain't enough anymore to brush up your Shakespeare. You've gotta watch New York brush up on hers as well. Or not. But still, you never know.
So hallelujah that playwrights like Tom Stoppard are there to worry about the big stuff, to school us on Havel and Housman, and that theater critics are, for the most part, thrilled to have such a deep well from which to draw. But considering the heaping helping of Pink Floyd in his latest work, it seems even Stoppard's been dipping into the shallow end of the waterhole lately.
Though Blankenship--kicking back and mixing up his arts coverage with "Clay is gay" stories--may not save the world, he just might help save informed, professional criticism from extinction by expanding its reach outside the realm of a handful of subscribers and niche enthusiasts. And by "save it," I mean, "make a video for his Silence of the Lambs rap." Hey, whatever works.
Below: the meta-moment of the pop culture year. So far.