Monthly Archives: April 2007

The Full Monty as presented by the Alpha/Omega Players

The well-wrought musical production of The Full Monty running at the Alpha/Omega Players theater is a memorable and rewarding experience. The musical, an adaptation set in America, of the 1997 British film of the same name was produced on Broadway in 2000. In all its varied aspects, this particular interpretation of the book by Terrence McNally (with David Yazbek’s exuberant score) does exemplify why the original show was nominated for Tony Awards in nearly every relevant category. The Full Monty creates a credible atmosphere of economic and social distress and the impact these conditions have on working families. But rather than a veiled lecture about the difficult, depressing, and desperate lives such times produce, we are shown humanity, camaraderie, and goodness as exemplified by men and women experiencing hard times. The fact that a group of these individuals find a unique creative solution to their immediate problems is thoroughly inspiring. We learn to laugh with them and vicariously experience the seriocomic situations they both create and find themselves in. New relationships between men and men and men and women develop naturally. Distinctions of class fall away. Differences of age disappear. The Full Monty is about all these things.Make no mistake however; the mise en scène is suffused with sexuality. But rather than present the kind of objectified rubber-doll sexuality proffered by most popular media, The Full Monty offers a version of the sexuality we actually experience in our daily lives. This is one of the show’s most significant virtues. Because we can see ourselves in these characters, we learn to relax and laugh at things we have become much too repressed and serious about. This is worth far more to us than the unrealistic sexually charged commercial fantasies to which we are inured.*More information at Alpha/Omega Players*Image: Reading Eagle: Richard Patrick

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Mass Media Irresponsibility

I must say I applaud the extent of media bashing that has become a significant aspect of the Va Tech tragedy. Again we find ourselves experiencing a crucial sociocultural moment in which the self-serving, mercenary, and blood-stained hands of media hypocrites are taking refuge behind the skirts of constitutionally protected freedoms while exhibiting no comprehension that actual freedom is inextricable from actual responsibility.Those who miss these points unwittingly promote the ever-increasing power of popular mass media to inspire and motivate negatively the weakest and least rational people in our midst.

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A Blaze of Gory: The Brutality of Popular Culture

The results obtained from a study of the relationship between popular culture and violent behavior are typically interpreted in two ways based on the bias of the individual(s) doing the analysis. Defenders of the notion that there is no demonstrable connection between violent content and imitative human behavior draw too narrow distinctions while those who wish to connect every dot produce evidence supporting the position that the relationship is absolute.Regardless of which side may be more convincingly parsing the evidence at any given moment, we can all share concern for the frighteningly omnipresent facts of social and cultural deterioration presented to us on a daily basis. We see with our own eyes increasing sociopathic behavior running the gamut from disrespect for self and others to extremities of hatred and violence occurring in our very midst. At the same time, we’re increasingly more concerned about the hyper-violent content of technologically enhanced imagery in our entertainment media.Consider the bloodcurdling nature of many video games our children are playing. Develop critical awareness of recent big box office youth-culture films, such as Hostel, the Saw series, and many others in which murderous torture is served up as entertainment and vicarious thrills. It is ever more incumbent upon us to comprehend the level of vicious brutality present in contemporary film, video, music, and electronic games.Without broad first-hand knowledge of what actually occurs in much current mass-media we are persisting in a kind of naiveté which insulates us from coming to terms with the rampant mean-spirited nature of popular culture. Things are the way they are because most of us are insufficiently aware of the extent to which each new generation is held more captive, influenced, and programmed by dangerously infectious inhumanity packaged and sold as mere diversion.*http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn8449 *Image: http://www.rockstargames.com/

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One of our issues…

“No one can be good for long if goodness is not in demand.”Bertolt Brecht

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Mass Media Dystopia

We find ourselves asking questions about why our children are running amok. Recent news stories have revealed the dark underbelly of what goes on in our schools. Fellow bloggers, Al Walentis, Mike Zielinski, and Holly Herman, have offered significant input on the controversy. And the comments section of their blogs reveal the concern of our readers. Most everyone has an opinion about what is the cause of our children’s bad behavior. My own explanation of what is wrong with all of us – parents and children alike – follows:*3 hours/day of TV = 3 hours/day of radio =3 hours/day of exposure to billboards and product advertising =3 hours/week of movies =3 hours/week of magazines/newspapers =3 hours/week of commercial Internet =3 hours/week of talking about media subjects =the stats are no mystery. Add to or subtract from the above. Arrive at your own numbers. Thousands of hours each year immersed in media. Living in it. Not in the world.When not attending directly to it, we replay it in our heads.Rehearsing movie roles, TV characters.Thinking about them.Fantasizing. Fixated on them. Pop stars. Celebrities. Rock and roll idols.Supermodels. News anchors. People in ads.Trying to look like them.Trying to act like them.Repeating their words to ourselves.Thinking their thoughts.We like to believe we can resist their hold on us.It’s easier when you see it in another group.Kids, for example.Forget the subliminal issues.Just look at the surface.Look at what’s obvious.Looking at what’s obvious.Occasionally, for a moment at a time, pay attention to your thoughts. How would you describe them? Ordered? Rational? do they seem to be a big jumble of adolescent rambling, self-criticism, obsessive-compulsive spontaneous repetitions of pieces of previous thoughts, parts of old scripts, generally negative self-image-wise? What could be causing this?1500 commercial messages a day enter our minds. Do we have nearly 1500 ordered, edited, professionally produced personal thoughts in a day? Do ordered, edited, professionally produced, manipulative commercial messages seem more coherent than our normal thoughts? Imagine one’s self-image being molded from an early age by commercial messages. One’s self-image is a pretty deep part of oneself, wouldn’t you say? How about what we think of others? Does what we think of others seem affected, colored, influenced by commercial messages of what is the ideal way to be? Do the commercial representations of the ideal way to be affect our self-image as they do our judgment of others? How about what we think of the world and our place in it? Affected, influenced by commercial messages?This topic is about the messages that surround us and their effect on us. Make some progress by just pausing for a few moments and reflecting on what you have just read.And think about what you are about to see…The guy looks pretty anxiety ridden. Here he is, booking down hard for some purpose. Whatever it is, the implication is that he hasn’t yet “made it” – accomplished his goal in life. He looks pretty concerned. But he is almost there. The universal goal for guys is presumed to be to get a home for him and his girl to start a life together. The pressure is on. The girl’s strap is down on her dress, she’s breathing heavily, and she’s got her heel in her crotch while her hand is in the same place. She can hardly wait for this guy to come up with the goods. They are out in a field somewhere. She is hot and he is falling behind in his responsibility. He knows it is his responsibility to “get a room” or by extension a place to bed down together. “All the solutions you need. All in one place.” He needs solutions quick- the message is “C’mon dude, get it together and take care of this hottie or you will lose her. We can help. Get a home loan from us and the object of your desire will be yours.” All this happens in an instant. A mini-drama imperceptible to the conscious mind but available after extended study. Ads are made to be apprehended in 2 or 3 seconds – flipping a magazine, driving by a billboard. I have an MFA in Fine Art and have been trained for many years to analyze visual images. But I can not consciously perceive and analyze the messages that are conveyed here in 2 or 3 seconds. The eyes and brain however, catch them instantaneously. The emotional impact of the image enters the unconscious. Deep-seated fears and urges are unleashed. And the solution to all of this precipitous passion and anxiety is within reach: a Fleet Home Loan… The most important parts of this type of message are unconsciously perceived. If we look critically and study this material we can gain some measure of awareness of what is or might be going on. Everything we use on a daily basis has been advertised to us by methods like this. Why did we choose the products we have surrounded ourselves with? Not only that, we pay for the costs of marketing these products to ourselves.TFD

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