15 December, 2006

Never Mind the Smoking Gun: Worry About the Smoking Mouse

As cities ban smoking, classic cartoons are being edited to remove footage in which characters smoke. Last summer Turner broadcasting announced it was cutting out smoking scenes from Hanna-Barbera cartoons. That’s “the Flintstones,” “Scooby-Doo” and “Tom and Jerry.”

There’s talk of rating a movie according to its portrayal of smoking. And a report by Reuters noted, “The attorneys general of 32 states are asking Hollywood's major movie studios to place an anti-smoking announcement on DVDs, videos and other home entertainment products to combat teen tobacco use.”

Imagine Now Voyager without smoking. Or the Thin Man series without smoking and drinking. Sort of like The Three Stooges without violence, no?

Now that transfats are going to be banned from New York City restaurants, perhaps we should watch for a new set of cuts in cartoons, in which foods deemed “unhealthy” vanish from the screen.

And what will become of Fat Albert?

Certainly those dancing hippos in Fantasia will have to go when they’re recognized as dreadful role models responsible for thousands of morbidly obese adults who, when they were young and impressionable, saw the film.

Save the whales.

14 December, 2006

"Fire Seeds in Darfur"

Nigerian poet, Tanure Ojaide’s poem, ”To the Janaweed, in Per Contra begins and ends with the fires in Darfur:

“May the fire you spread gleefully this way
scorch you and your family at the other end

may djinns you invoke in your despoliation
testify against you in the final judgment

may you be victim of your blood thirst
and wander without relief from paradise

may the fire seeds you sow in Darfur
consume you and your damned bands. . .

Who are the janjaweed? You can find out about their deeds by reading Ojaide’s poem.

A less poetic description was in Slate:
“The word, an Arabic colloquialism, means "a man with a gun on a horse." Janjaweed militiamen are primarily members of nomadic "Arab" tribes who've long been at odds with Darfur's settled "African" farmers, who are darker-skinned…. In fact, the term "Janjaweed" has for years been synonymous with bandit, as these horse- or camel-borne fighters were known to swoop in on non-Arab farms to steal cattle.”

13 December, 2006

Green Lantern and the Pillsbury Doughboy

What—rather who—brings them together is Martin Nodell, pen name of Matt Delon.

Who would have thought that the cute little doughboy whose laughter we know so well is a relative of The Green Lantern? Martin Nodell created the comic book hero and. in a subsequent career in advertising was “on the design team that helped develop the Pillsbury Doughboy.”

Nodell died at 91.

12 December, 2006

"Democracy of Dialogues"

The connection between digital technology and “democracy of dialogues” is an idea worth considering and discussing. The subject is introduced by artist Michael Somoroff in a recent interview online in Per Contra. Somoroff says, “Only in a world where reality is defined as a matrix construction, an array, are certain ideas and technologies possible. Globalism, the World Wide Web, digital technology, the European Union, and many other examples attest to this understanding of postmodernism. Only in a world predicated on the assumption of the relativism of meaning can these kinds of networks evolve into a democracy of dialogues. This is because networks are arrays. The meanings generated by these networks, that is to say, truths are the result of their composition only. It is from here that quality is derived. I would even go so far to say that in today’s integrated postmodern world, diversity is quality.”

In case “integrated postmodern world” is a term you want explained, he does that, too.

To put some perspective on Michael Somoroff, read the essay by the well-respected Donald Kuspit, “A New Sacred Space: Michael Somoroff’s Illumination I.”

11 December, 2006

Brancusi All Over Again? Film, Strange Culture, Takes a Stand

Recent interview in Per Contra sheds light on film in-progress dealing with art and suspected bio-terror. The government has been misunderstanding art since the days when Brancusi's sculpture was taxed.

MK: Last August you were a part of the 13th International Symposium of Electronic Arts (ISEA2006), “Zero One Jose, International Art On the Edge.” That was your film in-progress, “Strange Culture.” Would you tell our readers a bit about the film and what it’s based on? What was it about Steve Kurz’s and Robert Ferrell’s story that compelled you to do this film?

LHL: The film is about the case of Steve Kurtz and Robert Ferrell. On May 11, 2004 Kurtz’s wife of 27 years died of heart failure. He called 911. The medic saw his art work and called the police, who then called the fbi, who called the hazmat unit and confiscated his wife’s body. Hours later, Kurtz was charged with bio-terrorism, as was his collaborator, a geneticist, Dr. Robert Ferrell. The story is about freedom of speech, first amendment rights and the growing erosion of autonomy in our culture. Tilda Swinton, Thomas Jay Ryan, Steve and Peter Coyote are in it.

MK: Is this the major project you’re working on now? How did you get to this? How would you describe its connection to your other work?

LHL: Although I’ve been in exhibitions with Critical Art Ensemble, what really linked me to it was the injustice, intolerance, ignorance, and consequently the growing and pervasive culture of fear that was moving into our lives, all of our lives. To not speak up about it is, to me to be part of the system.