Archivo de la categoría: Culture

El lenguaje de los machetes

ImageRay (Andrés Almeida) y Ramona (Jessy Bulbo) son una pareja poco convencional. El primero, ¿activista? del Frente de Pueblos en Defensa de la Tierra y la segunda, rockera con un padre desaparecido en la guerra sucia de los setenta, viven una relación llena de altibajos. Mientras Ramona desea tener un hijo, Ray planea un drástico acto revolucionaro como único alivio a la deprimente realidad. Entre toquines, manifestaciones y un viaje relámpago a la playa, uno y otro intentarán convencerse de abandonar sus deseos para permanecer unidos. Al mismo tiempo, Ray será objeto de numerosos prejuicios por pertenecer a la clase media alta, mismos que incrementarán su anhelo por desaparecer.

De eso trata la ópera prima de Kyzza Terrazas, joven cineasta que trabajó durante varios años en la casa productora Canana, y que escribió el guión de “Déficit“, debut de Gael García como director.

Si bien la cinta tiene su mérito, pues fue levantada con un ajustado presupuesto, no está bien lograda. La postura izquierdista de la pareja se siente superficial; el acto revolucionaro y radical, que consiste en hacerse estallar en la Basílica de Guadalupe, muy forzado e incluso ingenuo; la desesperación de Ray por haber nacido en el círculo “opresor”, poco aterrizada. Al final no pasa nada, y como expectador, abandonas la sala confundido e insatisfecho. Kyzza se atrevió a hacer algo diferente, pero se quedó muy corto. Sus personajes son estereotipos y las dinámicas sociales en las que se involucran resultan burdas frente a la complejidad de las mismas en la vida real. Otro problema es el nombre. ¿Qué les dice “El lenguaje de los machetes”? ¿No los predispone a ciertas temáticas o tendencias políticas? En conferencia de prensa, el director explicó que no quería hacer referencia a la izquierda mexicana, sino a lo tajante y agresiva que puede ser una relación como la de Ray y Ramona. OK, eso tiene más sentido pero, desafortunadamente, esto no lo va a saber el público.

En fin, aunque la película tiene problemas importantes, no todo es malo. La musicalización es impecable y las atmósferas están bien creadas. Jessy Bulbo debuta como actriz y lo hace muy bien. Del mismo Kyzza me parece admirable haberse aferrado a esta historia que cocinó desde el 2001 y que apenas llegará a la pantalla grande.
El público joven seguro se sentirá identificado con el descontento de los protagonistas, haciendo posible la reflexión sobre la situación social en la que viven, sea ésta favorecedora o todo lo contrario. El público maduro podrá recordar sus épocas más rebeldes. Todos podrán rescatar algo del filme, pero insisto, no termina de cuajar.

Acá dejo el trailer para quien guste echar un vistazo. Si se animan a verla en lugar de “Hombres de Negro 3”, espero sus valiosas opiniones…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Br_hCAlgUsU

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Archivado bajo Cine, Culture, Personal, postmodernism

Safari accidental

Qué bonito es! Cada que leo algo de Juan Villoro, me gusta más su estilo. Es imposible permanecer indiferente ante esa forma de escribir, que con claridad, ingenio y muchas autorreferencias, llevan al lector a interesarse en temas tan dispares como los Rolling Stones, la identidad de los mexicanos o el Berlín antes y después del muro.
Uno de esos días en los que te encuentras billetes de alta denominación en la bolsa de alguna chamarra abandonada, me dirigí a una famosa librería para adquirir algún texto de este novelista/cuentista/ensayista/periodista. Teniendo varias opciones de dónde escoger, me decidí por “Safari Accidental”, libro de crónicas que prometía, desde el título, descabelladas aventuras que harían de mis días algo más entretenido.
No me equivoqué, después de concluir la lectura reafirmé mi admiración por este mexicano que cuenta con grandes habilidades narrativas y periodísticas.
Este libro, publicado en 2005 por Editorial Planeta, fue dividido acertadamente en diferentes secciones, para que tuvieran cabida temas tan distintos. En “Familia y multitudes”, el primer apartado de este safari, Villoro crea un perfil entrañable de su padre, al que describe con precisión y sin cursilería, valiéndose del marco contextual para la mejor comprensión de este minucioso hombre, que gustaba de guardar el dinero en un ejemplar de “Das Kapital”.
En “Alto volumen”, el cronista da algunas probaditas de lo que ha logrado persiguiendo una de sus grandes pasiones: el rock. Entrevistas con Mick Jagger, Peter Gabriel y Bono adquieren una importancia casi histórica, al descubrir que Villoro va más allá de las típicas preguntas que estas celebridades han escuchado una y otra vez. Se nota la búsqueda de recursos de este periodista, al hacer cuestionamientos relativos a problemáticas mundiales, sin embargo, Villoro no les brinda el trato de líderes de opinión, no les pregunta porque sean autoridades del tema, más bien maneja el acercamiento de  un profundo conocedor de su música al que en verdad le interesa la opinión de sus ídolos, más allá de rendirles pleitesía por su condición de rockstars.
En “Territorios”, el autor deja clara su condición de viajero, de observador de lo ajeno con una curiosidad de niño. Villoro se conmueve ante un anciano caricaturista de la Habana, que con toda dignidad permanece impasible ante insultos y palabras idiotas, pues necesita el dinero, y también critica la hiperrealidad del mundo mágico de Disney, parada que hizo con su familia pero que no puede “disfrutar” como un padre normal y despreocupado, al ser espectador de tantas cosas absurdas.
“Fetiches” probablemente sea el apartado más personal del safari, pues Villoro familiariza al lector con sus pequeñas y simpáticas obsesiones, además de dedicarle un elogio al color negro y emprender un análisis del fenómeno del chile en México.
Por último, “Lejos del escritorio” se erige como el apartado que tiene de todo un poco, desde una crónica protagonizada por Salman Rushdie hasta los recuerdos del taller de redacción impartido por Augusto Monterroso del que Villoro fue alumno y gran admirador.

Sin duda, este Safari Accidental vale la pena de principio a fin. Precisamente al término de las crónicas, Villoro dedica unas cuartillas de gratitud a todos los involucrados con sus aventuras, a toda la gente que creyó en él. Hasta para eso, el talentoso escritor evita la cursilería lacrimógena, y recurre más bien a la sinceridad y a simpáticas metáforas del que no quiere decir “te quiero” pero lo siente.

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Archivado bajo Crónica, Culture, música, Rock, Uncategorized

Rock, Youth, Postmodernity and Authenticity

Chapter 7 of the book is probably one of the most interesting so far. It attempts to define youth, letting clear from the beginning that the concept can be a matter of chronology, sociology, ideology, experience, style and attitude. So not only teenagers and young adults can be considered as youth, but also older people that feel young inside, or that are interested in the same things young people are. Once we know at what is he making reference by saying “youth”, he moves on to the description of the baby boomers, people born between 1946 and 1964, just after the War. A lot of these babies were part of the middle class and were raced in the suburbs. Grossberg states the baby boomers became the living promise of the possibility of actually achieving the American dream, because they were educated, well-dressed  and well-fed. However, if this generation is outstanding, is because they actually questioned the so-called dream, became politized and rebelled  against a conservative society that wanted to live inside a soap commercial from the 50’s.

The part rock played is important because it gave youth the possibility to empower itself. Rock gave youth a voice and a way of expressing, that not only had to do with the music, but also with all the emotions and thoughts that were on the collective youth mind.

“Rock was about the control one gained by taking the risk of losing control, the identity one had by refusing identities.” (p. 180)

Now, what does authenticity has to do with youth and its music? Well according to Grossberg, the idea of authenticity was a strategy by which youth culture could rearticulate the lived contradiction between optimism and cynicism. Rock was the way to scape from everyday boredom and it was also 100% created by them. Rock was not a product of some corporation (at least not in those years), it said exactly what youth wanted to say, and it was scandalous, which made it authentic. However, once rock became popular and accepted, it was turned into a matter of consumerism and marketing strategies. It lost its core ideology and therefore, its authenticity.

How does this relate to postmodernity? For what I have understood, when rock was born, there was a boredom feeling in the air but at the same time, people believed they could change things. The greatest social movements of the 20th century were held by young people in the 60’s.  But after that, with the Vietnam war, the end of the hippie era, the cold war, the attempts to reasign roles in society, etc. people began to feel truly pesimistic, almost as if they were too lazy to believe in new ideologies. Nothing was certain anymore, everything was relative and there was nothing people could do to scape this situation. Rock music could no longer make a commitment to any ideas because they were no longer plausible. People just wouldn’t believe anymore. Rock evolved into punk, ska, an other genres with their own problems to deal with.

On page 228, Grossberg talks about how is better feeling something than feeling nothing. This automatically drove me to the concept of kitsch,  which not only refers to cheap, marketable cultural forms, but also to melodrama and how in soap operas for example, romanticism was taken to extreme levels so people would still be able to feel touched by the suffering of the main character. (Felluga, Dino. “Terms Used by Postmodernists.” reviewed in http://www.cla.purdue.edu/english/theory/postmodernism/terms/)

After reading this, I don’t think society has changed that much. Grossberg wrote the book in 1992 and seventeen years later, we still keep looking for solutions that not only create new problems but also fail to answer the old ones (p. 213). Perhaps with the sight of a horrorific (and close) future, some people (and only in specific countries) haven´t stopped trying to change the world into a better place, however, as a young adult, I do share those feelings of uncertainty that are everywhere, I’m terrified of not finding a job that provides me the money to live the way I’m expected to and I definitely stopped believing in any kind of economic system years ago.

postmodern situation

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Archivado bajo Culture, postmodernism, Rock

Another boring day 5.6

In the fifth chapter of his book, Lawrence Grossberg talks about rock formation, and it starts by making sure the readers understand Rock was born under a complex net made of structures of social and economic relations, aesthetic conventions, styles of language, movement, appearance and dance, ideological commitments, media representations, etc. So, only because a band or a singer perform in the rock scene, we cannot predict its political formation and position.  Rock is not inheritely subversive, as we may think. Before judging any musical genre, we should look at the context it was created in. And I’m sure we can apply the same way of thinking to all social situations.

Rock culture was largely produced for and marketed to a youth audience.

Rock is perhaps the only musical culture in which the identity of its audience bleeds into the music. (P. 133)

In the next chapter, Grossberg describes how the american society was created, so it could give birth to rock and roll. Liberalism is a key word to this chapter, because according to the author it celebrates plurality as the condition of the country’s difference from the rest of the world.  Americans can spend their money in whatever they want without having the government regulating this situation, for example. So this postwar context shaped the political possibilites of rock culture.

The 50’s, where everything seemed nice and perfect, wouldn’t that be asphyxiating for any youth?

Anyway, Grossberg goes on confirming this thought. Rock came out of a period of conservativism BUT it didn’t reject the domestic image of daily life that generally prevailed in the US, including the privileged position it gave to the man in both gender and sexual relations. As an example, professor Strangelove used “Under my thumb” by the Rolling Stones, which leads us to another fact about r&r, even when the rock community was politized, it celebrated things like sensuality and sexuality. Does anybody remember The Pelvis? Another important thing to mention, is that on its origins, rock and roll was actually pretty limited, because it was black music. So the genre existed within the racist ideologies that were all over the place in the US and it only became mainstream when white people performed it. So that shows that while being a way of expressing rebelliousness, it was also very conservative.

In conclusion, the author tries to question the “subversive” nature of rockandroll. Was it really subversive at any point? Or it was just the strategy that was used to sell it?

rockandroll1

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Archivado bajo Culture, History

We gotta get out of this place!

In the second chapter of  “We gotta get out of this place”, Lawrence Grossberg talks about articulation (articulation of popular culture and rock, more specifically) which is the process that brings elements from different backgrounds together, so they can create a new one, with its own context and characteristics.

“A cultural formation is articulated into and functions within different contexts of daily life. Such articulations create a series of alliances, each representing a particular selective appropriation of the formation itself.” (p. 71)

Perfect housewifeSo the way culture is articulated is always connected with the effects such culture has on its members and components. For example, the domestic relationships are closely related to the mode of production they were created in. A capitalist society derived in consumerist practices, perfect housewives and a happy family kind of thing. The more specialized work is, the more specialized domestic architecture is. Domestic life is an articulation of the work place, so these two elements affect each other inevitably and constantly. 

Now, what makes popular culture popular? To answer to this question, the author uses the concept of intelligentsia, that is described as the dominated fraction of the dominant class. Popular culture is not restricted to one class, it exists within a complex series of terms and oppositions which are linked together in different ways. It is clear that popular culture is out there, but it’s not the same for everybody, and that depends on the background of each individual. 

different-versions-of-the-mona-lisaGrossberg talks about texts (as cultural practices or symbolical forms) and how they can move in and out of popular culture, and even more important, how they can exist simultaneously in different categories: high and popular culture. For example, the Monalisa is one of the most famous paintings on this planet, and has been used as an image for t-shirts, cheese brands, coffee shops and so on. So Monalisa is both part of the high culture and at the same time I can wear it everyday to school. This situation has outraged a lot of people, like intellectuals, art critics, upper class and so on, causing the acceptable and non acceptable popular culture.  According to these guys, only a complex piece of work can be considered good, and hence, high culture. On the other hand, a member of the lower class would question why should he or she considered ______________ (Name your classic artist here) as art, when he or she can’t understand what the artist was trying to express. We celebrate texts with our own cultural taste.

According to the author, popular culture is closely related to emotions. It becomes a big deal because it means something to someone, and that evaluation comes straight from the “heart”.

“But the affective investment in certain sites demands a very specific ideological response, for affect can never define, by itself, why things should matter.” (p. 86)

This is the reason why none of us are free from ideology, and the more powerful the affect is, the more powerfully must be ideological legitimated.

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Archivado bajo Culture, Popular culture

Collusion

Collusion happens when in the “Oppressor-oppressed” relationship, the oppressed one adopts the attitudes that reenforce the way the oppressor sees him. So people complains about being stereotyped but they end up becoming almost “cliché”.

This is a really good example of collusion in the media, from the movie “Crash”. Unfortunately, due to copyright issues, the video can’t be shared, but here is the link so you can watch it in youtube:

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Archivado bajo Culture, Media, Stereotypes

Stereotypes in Youtube

Here it is, my midterm assignment!

The amateur video phenomenon I chose was “Because I’m ____________” videos.

This consists of people out there making fun of the stereotypes they have to put up with in normal life, when coming from a particular background different that the countries they live in.

I tried to emphasized the fact that traditional media is the one in charge of creating, spreading and maintaining those stereotypes, in order to control the divided society in an easier way. This process has been working pretty well but is definitely suffering because of the new alternative media: blogs, vlogs, personal spaces on the net, and so on. With the emergence of youtube, the possibilities are infinite and  even though your video can be removed, you can always post it again with a potential audience of hundreds of millions!

So, the stereotyped people can now create their own videos making fun of the situations, therefor communicating that it is not a big deal, it’s not going to stop them from doing and being whoever they want. Yey! rebellion!

The main sources of information were:

Chomsky, N. (1991). Media control. The spectacular achievements of propaganda. New York: Seven Stories Press. 

Oakes, P. J., Haslam S. A., & Turner J. C. (1994). Stereotyping and social reality. Great Britain: Blackwell Publishers.

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Archivado bajo Culture, Media, youtube