This Week: The movie industry is undergoing a top-to-bottom revolution… Claim: teaching humanities fights racism… Outing the identity of Elena Ferrante sparks debate on privacy… Now may be the best-ever time for music… Do we really need an Olympics for the arts?
- Big Changes In How Movies Are Being Made: Hollywood had a rocky summer. The studios invested big in blockbusters but they generally failed to deliver the kinds of audiences that were expected. Because there has been such a concentration on making big franchise movies with built-in fan bases, other parts of the movie ecology have withered. Mid-budget movies, for example, have largely disappeared. Some are saying the entire industry has to be remade. Newcomers like Netflix are clearly taking some audience, and last week announced a deal to start showing its original features in theatres. But some observers note that the “movies-are-dying” meme has persisted forever and that while the movie industry might be changing, it’s healthy. “Film is just doing what it’s always done—finding a way to adapt, survive, and serve new audiences.”
- Does Teaching The Humanities Fight Racism? John McCumber makes the argument in the Chronicle of Higher Education. “In particular, it is the humanities that teach us how not to be racists, by showing us how to open ourselves up to what is different. Whether a given humanist is a modernist, postmodernist, New Critic, Marxist, or an adherent of any of dozens of other approaches, what she does in the classroom is always the same: She takes some cultural product that seems at first strange and off-putting — a poem by some ancient Greek or Persian poet, a novel by some African or Chinese author, a statue from an indigenous culture whose true name we don’t even know — and, if she is a good teacher, makes it familiar enough to be interesting.” And the evidence?…
- A Journalist Outs The Identity Of Elena Ferrante. Debate About Privacy And Anonymity Ensues: Last week a journalist claimed that the pseudonymous author is an Italian. Fans were outraged. On social media, many Ferrante devotees have condemned the journalist who outed the well-regarded yet mysterious writer. “Some were afraid it would stop Ferrante from ever writing again, saying the story had been driven by the ego of the reporter and the New York Review of Books.” Are our expectations about privacy changing in the age of social media? It is interesting that writers cannot “reasonably expect” to keep their names unpublished, given how many have down the years.
- Frank Oteri: A Golden Age For Music The well-regarded observer of the contemporary music scene suggests that things have never been better for music fans. “For listeners, there’s more music to hear than ever before–and it’s happening all over the world. Of course, it always has, but nowadays, it’s not limited to “national” “styles.” Also, global travel has become much more convenient, relatively speaking, and so with enough time, money, and overzealousness, a fanatical fan could actually trek the globe to hear extremely exciting music every day of the year. Much easier, we now can also experience a great deal of music happening in all these places without leaving our homes.”
- An Olympics For The Arts? Competitions draw attention to the things being competed for. And the original Olympic games included competitions in the arts. So do the arts need an international Olympics-style competition? “Olympic medals for the world’s best art seems an odd thing to revive, but a brave and no doubt well-intentioned Canadian organization is bringing back the idea of an international art competition nominally tied to or modelled on the Olympics. They hope to hold the International ArtsGames in Montreal in 2018.”