“Blurry’ is not the first documentary to deal with the perils of a rapid ascent to super-stardom. It is the first created by an award-winning filmmaker that deals with fame in the social media age. Paul McCartney was famous, Bono was famous, Kurt Cobain was famous, but none of these icons had 77-million Instagram followers and 40-million YouTube subscribers ready to pounce on everything they said and did.
Is Rock Dead? Or is it just today's Jazz? There is a great deal of online comment on music sites about the “ death of rock/metal music.” (Google “Is rock dead”, you will see what I mean.) Of course, “dead” in this context means marginalized in a mainstream music consumption sense by the domination of hip/hop, pop, and EDM. Much of this commentary contains angst-ridden attacks on contemporary popular music, fulminations on the execrable taste of Gen Zedders, and younger Millennials, and, moaning about what my father would have called with his tongue firmly in his [...]
Truth in Fantasy The Bard Would Applaud Buffy Some people have trouble with fantasy as great drama. I've never understood why. Realism in art does not necessarily mean a kind of dutiful depiction of the mundane, the kitchen details of everyday life. It can be that and be great art (Ibsen); but the kind of realism that really matters is psychological, the realism of protagonists growing and changing, living, laughing, suffering and dying through the arc of a story that resonates -- a story that is a true journey in the sense that character [...]
I recently wrote a piece on changes in the music industry brought on by the migration of virtually everything from creation, through promotion to distribution and consumption online. I used the rise of Gen Z phenom Billie Eilish, and the role played by social media in her ascent as an example of the powerful changes that are reshaping the industry. I left one set of observations to treat separately in a short follow-up piece. Although everyone under thirty is familiar with what I will call the web multiplier effect on the popular song, I would like to draw out [...]
Every once in a while this culture vulture finds talent and perhaps more than talent in places where I might never have looked even a few years ago. The ability to discern outcrops in the cultural landscape has been transformed by technology -- we can see so much farther and so much more clearly without ever leaving our computer cockpit. Since it is an article of faith with me that creativity at the highest levels is an inexplicable enigma and can crop up anywhere at any time, this extended vision is a wonderful thing. Thanks to the [...]
Learning from Young Muslims in Prison A Recommended Essay The essay is a truly admirable literary form. Great essayists tend to be writers who range widely through literature, ideas and social mores, and distill the essence of their observations into powerfully cogent and concise prose. Great essayists have never been common on the ground, (George Orwell died in 1948) and there aren’t many around today that I know of. Theodore Dalrymple is such a one. A well travelled, magnificently well-read physician who spent many years as a consulting psychiatrist in English prisons, his often [...]