Thursday, March 25, 2010

Digital Age

George Hunka points out this NY Times essay by Michiko Kakautani, and sniffs that it's gone unremarked, probably because it's too long. I like a good challenge, so I read the whole thing. George quotes this bit, which is indeed key:
Now, with the ubiquity of instant messaging and e-mail, the growing popularity of Twitter and YouTube, and even newer services like Google Wave, velocity and efficiency have become even more important. Although new media can help build big TV audiences for events like the Super Bowl, it also tends to make people treat those events as fodder for digital chatter. More people are impatient to cut to the chase, and they’re increasingly willing to take the imperfect but immediately available product over a more thoughtfully analyzed, carefully created one. Instead of reading an entire news article, watching an entire television show or listening to an entire speech, growing numbers of people are happy to jump to the summary, the video clip, the sound bite — never mind if context and nuance are lost in the process; never mind if it’s our emotions, more than our sense of reason, that are engaged; never mind if statements haven’t been properly vetted and sourced.
I also liked this quote:
“Reading in the traditional open-ended sense is not what most of us, whatever our age and level of computer literacy, do on the Internet,” the scholar Susan Jacoby writes in “The Age of American Unreason.” “What we are engaged in — like birds of prey looking for their next meal — is a process of swooping around with an eye out for certain kinds of information.”
But I'm a bit more iffy on this:
Given the constant bombardment of trivia and data that we’re subjected to in today’s mediascape, it’s little wonder that noisy, Manichean arguments tend to get more attention than subtle, policy-heavy ones; that funny, snarky or willfully provocative assertions often gain more traction than earnest, measured ones; and that loud, entertaining or controversial personalities tend to get the most ink and airtime. This is why Sarah Palin’s every move and pronouncement is followed by television news, talk-show hosts and pundits of every political persuasion. This is why Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh on the right and Michael Moore on the left are repeatedly quoted by followers and opponents. This is why a gathering of 600 people for last month’s national Tea Party convention in Nashville received a disproportionate amount of coverage from both the mainstream news media and the blogosphere.
And not just for the somewhat false equivalence of Glenn Beck and Michael Moore. And the way that legacy media constantly points its fingers at the unwashed rubes who clamor for a constant stream of right-wing updates as though they play no role in that at all. But that's not my point here.

George connects Kakautani's thoughts more directly to theatre:
As she notes, Internet users seem to be a jumpy lot, demanding the instant gratification that is denied by more complex art of any kind. It is a call for an increased shallowness in some ways, and these digital and virtual connections, it must be remembered, are digital and virtual, not particularly human. They also threaten, Kakutani suggests, to close prematurely those presumably open minds that cross the thresholds of theatre auditoria. "Online research enables scholars to power-search for nuggets of information that might support their theses, saving them the time of wading through stacks of material that might prove marginal but that might have also prompted them to reconsider or refine their original thinking," Kakutani writes; in the theatre, a "bored" audience's desire to have their own prejudices confirmed as well, cutting off imaginative alternatives before they're barely seeded, as well as demanding immediate interpretation of what might be a deliberately ambiguous experience, seems to me to lead to a drama resembling a mountain stream — very clear, but very shallow.
And he wraps up with a quote from Richard Foreman:
I see within us all (myself included) the replacement of complex inner density with a new kind of self — evolving under the pressure of information overload and the technology of the "instantly available." A new self that needs to contain less and less of an inner repertory of dense cultural inheritance — as we all become "pancake people" — spread wide and thin as we connect with that vast network of information accessed by the mere touch of a button.
Not to put to fine a point on it, I think this is mostly bunk. Just plain, legacy media/snobbish complaining that they just don't make things like they used and slow is better and kids today just aren't no darn good.

I've made no bones about my affection for modern "junk" art and the digital world. I've referred to Steven Johnson's book Everything Bad Is Good For You more than once. But I'll do it again. His basic thesis is that pop culture has grown in complexity and the demands that it makes on its audience over time and that it is actually as good for you as "traditional" entertainment. I think that trend gives the lie to the whole idea of pancake people becoming dominant. And I think it shows us, in theatre in particular, a way forward and way to reach out to younger audiences. And no, I'm not talking about slapping on a Twitter feed.

In Johnson's book (available on Google Books, natch), he compare a classic cop show, like Dragnet or Hawaii Five-O, with a modern show, like The Sopranos. In terms of storytelling, dramatic narrative and backstory, The Sopranos blows Dragnet away. It's an infinitely more complicated form of storytelling, requiring the viewer to have more knowledge about the characters and the world of the story than the old cop show, and, though he doesn't get into this, involving far more sophisticated forms of storytelling, more subtlety, more leaving things up to the viewer to figure out, more suggestion. Compare Starsky & Hutch to The Wire and you'll see what I mean. The Wire, as much as I love it, is a bad example, since it wasn't all that popular when it aired, but The Sopranos was.

Audiences today are smart. Yes, they're probably over-stimulated, and maybe their attention spans have shrunk in one way or another, but their ability to skip to the end is off the charts. Honestly, maybe it has been for longer than we think. They see plot twists coming a mile off. They know tropes and devices the instant they appear and are rarely fooled. They know what they like quickly and if they don't like it, they turn off. I think, too often, in theatre, they're getting the same old slop, even when it's postmodern slop, see where it's going and would rather engage in something that engages them back. If someone is texting or Twittering during your show, maybe, just maybe, it's not them. It's you. I'm addicted to my smartphone, but when I'm doing something engaging, I don't look at it. I don't care if someone's texting or updating their Facebook. I'm watching this thing that's happening in front of me. Rather than depending on schoolmarm tricks and rigid rules, maybe we should, you know, make the shows better.

There are a lot of dangers in this highly connected, on-demand new world, but, as a collaborative, at least nominally interactive artform, we should be thriving here. We should be embracing the digital world as a way not just of putting butts in seats, but of making art, discussing our art, refining and reforming our art. Of collaborating and opening up our process. Connecting with our audiences. Not just selling to them, but investing in them.

When we treat theatre like a literary endeavor, or an art project, it keeps in the one-way, one-dimensional world. We speak, you listen and enjoy and then go home. I think we can do better than that. I think we need to do better than that. This isn't a call for every show to be Twitterable and malleable. I'm still a formalist and a believer in presentational theatre. But we have to remember that the show doesn't start at curtain up and end at blackout. The life of the play can and should extend beyond that. The conversation we're having with the audience should extend beyond that. Otherwise, yes, we lose them to YouTube and Hulu and the Google.

We have to tell the stories of our day, in the language of our day and make it mean something. In short, we have to evolve. And standing athwart the digital river and saying "Kids today ain't no damn good" is basically the opposite of evolution. I think we can do better.

30 comments:

George Hunka said...

You kids, you think you invented everything ...

Seriously, it's not a generational question, and turning it into one evades the point. The experiential complexity that these digital networking tools provide is a surface complexity, not deep-rooted. To take the examples from television that you note in terms of narrative form: Yes, The Sopranos is more complex than Dragnet, The Wire more complex than Starsky and Hutch. But are either of these shows more complex than the narrative structures of the Alain Resnais films of the 1950s or the films of the German Expressionists before that (before your time? They were before mine too, but knowing them demonstrates to me that there's little new under the sun)? With Finnegans Wake or Ulysses? It's not as if the generation you're deriding here was a bunch of simpletons who just can't cut it in today's fast-paced complex world. It's an obsession with surface things, with clarity, with reconfirming one's prejudices rather than taking a broader more nuanced view.

Theatre has been unable to compete with films or television; while I'm an admirer of the Wooster Group and other techno-savvy artists (and Richard Foreman's own shows integrated digital technology over the past few years), this is a horse of a different color. "Audiences today are smart. Yes, they're probably over-stimulated, and maybe their attention spans have shrunk in one way or another, but their ability to skip to the end is off the charts. Honestly, maybe it has been for longer than we think. They see plot twists coming a mile off. They know tropes and devices the instant they appear and are rarely fooled. They know what they like quickly and if they don't like it, they turn off. I think, too often, in theatre, they're getting the same old slop, even when it's postmodern slop, see where it's going and would rather engage in something that engages them back," you write. True enough. But so did the generations who came before. I hope you would agree, too, that skipping to the end can be a way of avoiding what can be learned during the journey itself.

cgeye said...

I read the article, and didn't comment on it because even the Times comment board become promo spam or slapfights.

I think the article makes good points, but it ignores the construction of theatre practice to deliberately not compete with movies or TV. During the Golden Age of TV, the boundary between Broadway play and teleplay was at its thinnest -- and the panicking forces of Hollywood did not approve. If the turnaround from play to adapted work was weeks instead of months, why would anyone go to a movie theatre, other than seeing stars and SFX in color? Broadway could bypass Hollywood for its starmaking.

I bet all these highfalutin' arguments about the uniqueness of stagecraft have at its heart some simple protectionist contract language created a half-century ago by Broadway producers and the stage unions. Hollywood overlapped with Broadway, even then, so it makes sense that a small group of guys decided to shut TV out. Once the vertical integration consent decrees went down, Hollywood studios had to capture the TV series business, and they had to restrict ability of NY talent to move easily from stage to TV, including transferring works to live transmissions.

As with the decline of the recording industry, what we face is dismantling the twisty agreements that shaped the different acting industries in the first place. It's one of the reasons NYLACHI stands fast -- NY and CHI for advertisers, LA for the negotiators and talent pool coordination. I know, off topic, but if we're to tackle complexity, we should tackle how the underlying contracts and related industrial conventions for creative work are often more interesting than the product itself.

99 said...

@George- I didn't mean to jump down as fully on the generational issue as I did. You're absolutely right; it's not. Exactly. But what has changed is that such formal experimentation is no longer the province of esoteric art; it's the mainstream. I don't think it's an obsession with surface things. I think it's that there are more surfaces and people are choosier about where to go deeper. People skip to the end when they're not getting engaged.

@cgeye- That's a great perspective I hadn't heard before. I have to admit that I fall into the camp of assuming that theatre's disdain for television has more to do with snobbery and jealousy, but it never occurred to me that it could be structurally created. Interesting.

And given that, I don't think discussions of contracts and union issues are off-topic. It's easy to see these gaps as generational issues or philosophical ones, but there are real world implications and connections worth considering.

George Hunka said...

Part of the reason for the rise of series television in the US was that advertisers wanted viewers to return to their programs again and again and again -- one-off television dramas didn't provide characters or personalities that audiences could tune into week after week after week. Television drama in the UK, for example, thrived on the state-run BBC until about twenty years ago; then, when ITV and Thames Television became popular, the BBC had to change to maintain a viewership that they could rationalize to Parliament.

I noted today that one of the key dramas of postwar English theatre, Look Back in Anger, slogged along at the box office in 1956 until a lengthy televised excerpt (much longer than a three-minute excerpt at the Tonys, much shorter than the entire play itself) turned it into a box-office success. Not sure that would happen now, but it's an interesting thought-experiment.

RVCBard said...

Rather than depending on schoolmarm tricks and rigid rules, maybe we should, you know, make the shows better.

99,

That's crazy talk. You'll stay glued to that seat with your eyes taped open and you'll like it!!!

It's an obsession with surface things, with clarity, with reconfirming one's prejudices rather than taking a broader more nuanced view.

George,

I'm not sure it's that simple (pretty ironic, considering the statement you seem insistent upon making - which, correct me if I'm wrong, reads as, "People these days are so shallow").

To which my response is, "OK. And?"

I'm not trying to be cavalier about what you're saying, but it seems you're using a lot of words to get at something pretty simple.

If I skim instead of read carefully or skip to the end instead of trudge through, it's because I've been on this trip before. Unless I'm going to see something new along the way, I have no reason to pretend to be more interested than I am. I'm not afraid of density (in fact, I often tend to project it onto literature, film, and theatre works that were never intended to be such). I'm bored with the same ideas being regurgitated yet presented as density. By the time I get even one whiff of it, I tend to turn off and tune out.

To respond to your actual statement, that today's artists and audiences have "an obsession with surface things, with clarity, with reconfirming one's prejudices rather than taking a broader more nuanced view," to what extent is that a reflection of all that's being made versus all that's being seen?

To what extent is the art we're seeing a reflection of who we are versus who we think we are? In other words, to what extent is that "obsession with surface things, with clarity, with reconfirming one's prejudices rather than taking a broader more nuanced view," a response to the entire spectrum of theater (or the arts) today, and to what extent is it a reaction to stories centering around the . . . angst? . . . of educated, affluent, urban White guys (especially if they're over 50 or under 30)?

Sean said...

J. this actually give me a chance to comment directly on something in your reading that I thought was handled really well. So many times, through the show, the characters guessed or knew about stuff that we all thought we were guessing as well, and you used them as plot points.

The powder - early on, we suspect that he's sent it to himself BUT at almost the exact same time SHE SUSPECTS IT AS WELL. You are actually using our familiarity with these tropes, and making the characters closer to *us*, by giving them the same insights we have.

Time and again, when we thought we were ahead, the characters were with us. I know, I know, this doesn't address specifically what you're talking about here... except maybe it does.

Instead of letting the audience use twitter during a show, or even more cloyingly, letting the *characters* use twitter during a show, we write characters with the same modern sensibilities that we have. We let the characters be as savvy about plot construction as we are. It was certainly refreshing to see in Manifesto.

George Hunka said...

I never meant to imply "People these days are so shallow" any more than J. meant to imply "Old folks just don't get it." True, I don't believe that the use of virtual networking technologies in the theatre will necessarily lead to a more meaningful theatrical experience regardless of who attends. Others believe differently, and far be it from me to stand in their way.

It might lead to a more engaged theatre; who knows. On the other hand, as I said in the comments section at my original post, "I would hope that when it comes to theatre or any art, the interaction is already inherent in confronting the work of art -- we respond with our bodies, our minds, what-have-you. If we don't feel that response, if the work of art doesn't engage us on that primal level, then I confess I fail to see that an engagement with our iPhones instead of our selves is going to have anything but a superficial effect on our experience."

99 said...

Honestly, I do have to cop to implying "old folks just don't get it." Maybe not intentionally, but it's there. But I guess, in my mind, I lump institutions in with old folks. Of course, in my mind, I'm a 23-year old young punk. So...take it for what's it worth.

Thanks for the kind words, Sean. And that is exactly more my point. We have to catch up to our audiences, audiences of all ages. Catch up with our storytelling and structure. We can't do the same things that film or TV can, but we can do some of them. That's one of the things that I love about Vampire Cowboys. They make film techniques work on stage. Mostly by doing it baldly and never shying away from either. Their plays are resolutely creatures of the stage. But they use film techniques and tropes. That's what I'm angling for.

RVCBard said...

George,

I don't think there's anything inherently distancing about contemporary technology in that sense. Like many things, it's more nuanced than that. It all depends on how it's used.

Imagine a play where audiences were encouraged to take pictures or even (gasp!) film it.

Hell, what if we were allowed to bring food and eat it? That, I think, would be even more revolutionary. Can't put my finger on why just yet.

isaac butler said...

The Wire and The Sopranos are both far more complex (and better written) than Hiroshima, Mon Amour, even including The Wire's so-so 5th season and the final three seasons of The Sopranos. HMA-- I'm choosing this one because it is the Resnais film that everyone's seen-- is on a structural level totally simple.

The Wire's aesthetic is as keenly honed (and refined and reinvented in each season) as any German Expressionist film. Check out, for example, how frequently-- particularly when Carcetti is in them-- shots in Season 3 places at least one object in between the camera and the subject, giving the impression that viewer is eavesdroping on the various political machinations as they unfold. That it is not deliberately thorny does not make it less sophisticated, and we confuse the two at our-- and our work's-- peril.

cgeye said...

George,

Yes. The tension between 'event' programming and 'folks appearing weekly in our living rooms' was a foundational conflict in television. James Baughman's Same Time, Same Station nicely surveys the period where everything was in flux -- the power of sponsors, program length, the importance of news.

Once the decision (championed by CBS) to fully commit to series instead of anthologies or spectaculars (and, to digress, anthologies were the first way movie stars could participate in TV, once their studios stopped their boycott), the pool of actors shifted from NY to LA -- no need to hunt for fresh talent in between Broadway gigs, if you could go to MGM and use their contract talent.

If TV's dying, too, why are we hanging on to distinctions that don't serve our industry? If TV's changing, why can't we gain territory back? I want our art to live, not the legacy of some agents and business affairs hacks. We envied London because the BBC wasn't jealous about theatre actors choosing other media; it's time to open up all the books and all the assumptions.

verif: straints. What we're still under, yo.

cgeye said...

"Hell, what if we were allowed to bring food and eat it? That, I think, would be even more revolutionary. Can't put my finger on why just yet."

Eat this. In remembrance of me.

The church keeps its own rituals -- service, fellowship, hot dish -- and we adapt and pervert that by serving oversauced meals and expensive booze in dinner theatres, or by referring patrons to a nearby bar. That, and there's never enough people to clean the bathrooms, let alone a theatre after everyone brought snacks.

The reason we don't bring and break bread is simple -- food allergies, city and state health and sanitation laws, all the business excuses that some lawyer or risk manager will bring up. What we need to get past that is openness and trust -- just like you don't brings a spliff so the narcs don't bust the joint, tell people what you've brought to share, and don't get miffed if they can't eat it.

Again, we have to start renegotiating the tacit contracts we've made with our audiences, and I don't know if we want to do that.

cgeye said...

And a review of Baughman:
http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/same-time-same-station-creating-american-television-1948-1961-by-james-l-ba


The “might-have-been” hero of Baughman’s book is Sylvester “Pat” Weaver, an ad man (and father of Sigourney) who became head of NBC-TV in 1949. Convinced that he could attract a mass audience by programming up and not down, Weaver declared his grand design was “the creation of an all-people elite.” He tried to break sponsors’ control over content and admonished producers and directors to include “informational, instructional, cultural and inspirational material” in all telecasts. Weaver commissioned productions of Hamlet, Macbeth and The Magic Flute, fought soap operas with Matinee Theater, launched the Today show and The Tonight Show, introduced dramatic “anthologies,” and, as Mr. Spectacular, was the fairy godfather of Peter Pan.
(...)

Baughman emphasizes that Weaver was not a cultural snob. His show-business hero was comedian Fred Allen, not Laurence Olivier. He accepted television as a commercial medium, wanting NBC to inhabit a space between “a relentlessly high-cultural BBC and the almost as relentlessly mass-cultural CBS.” Acknowledging that Weaver is “the historian’s tempter,” Baughman implies that he was destined to fail. Try as he might—and his efforts are easy to exaggerate—Weaver could not overcome “a century-long imposition of class over culture.”

As Weaver left the scene, ABC was teaching Western Civ to millions of viewers—with Maverick, Cheyenne, Sugarfoot, Wyatt Earp, The Lawman and The Rifleman. The Untouchables was knocking off Playhouse 90. And American Bandstand was reaching younger viewers at “the get age.” Baughman calls ABC the “anti-public-service network.” As late as 1969, one-third of the network’s affiliates did not run its evening news program. The network, critic Martin Mayer wrote, “finds almost no support among its affiliates for `quality’ programming.”

It would stay that way, as long as government did not fund public education and the FCC preserved the networks’ monopoly through its licensing policy for VHF and UHF. Television, insisted Leonard Goldenson, chief executive of United Paramount Theaters, the parent company of ABC, “isn’t a Tiffany business. It’s Woolworth and K mart.”


And A&E is now the addiction/OCD channel; TLC, the sideshow freak channel; Bravo, the shallow, fabulous one. All were created as highbrow or educational cable alternatives, until their owners discovered they could use their valuable cable channel positions for more profit.

Alison Croggon said...

The Japanese have been bringing food to the theatre and eating it for five hundred years. And lately I've been going to quite a few shows that feed the audience as part of the action - something I'm all for. Food becomes part of the whole sensory and social experience.

Technologies of any kind (including cooking) are just part of the menu of tools we all have. Nobody these days gets away with the "wow" of using digital technology, everyone knows that's just boring unless someone does something with it.

99 said...

cgeye- I'm with you on making our art live and I think embracing some of the things that TV does well, both in terms of the work itself and the way it's made (not necessarily the commercial aspect, obviously) would serve us well.

And I'm definitely with you on examining the contracts we've made with our audiences. That really is more the point, more than aping television or embracing Tweeting or whatever. Our contracts are out of date. We need to renegotiate those, with our audiences. What are we asking from them? What are we promising to them? That's the real work.

Mark S. said...

I don't think there's anything inherently distancing about contemporary technology in that sense. Like many things, it's more nuanced than that. It all depends on how it's used.

I'm not sure I can agree with this. The stress that contemporary technology places on virtuality is an inherent and unmitigable danger. There is no such thing as a virtual community, a virtual identity, a virtual anything. A virtual presence is just another way of saying "absence." Or as Hegel would put it, "in the case where the self is merely represented and ideally presented, there it is not actual: where it is by proxy, it is not."

The more our technologies stress the virtual, the more we come to believe that virtuality is a viable alternative to actuality, then the more we will find ourselves alienated from each other, our world, and ultimately ourselves. I love Isaac and his blog, but the recent post of the virtual choir struck me as deeply sad. Clever. But deeply sad. And it put me in mind of this by Guy Debord (and here, the prescience of Debord's thought can be underlined by replacing "spectacle" with "virtual"): "The spectacle reunites the separate, but reunites it as separate."

The idea of relating food and theater is, I think, a good one--and points to where we need to go in the theater. I believe Mnouchkine does something like this with her company--at intermission, the cast and crew cook for and feed the audience. There is a recognition of the presence of the body, the needs of the body. And I think a return to the reality of body is what's needed in modern theater. We need a theater that recognizes that we eat with the body, love with it, bleed from it, fuck with it, shit from it, hate with it. A visceral theater of blood and sex, cruelty, lust, life and love. Not a lecture hall or a simple frame within which to showcase one anemic idea after another. An actual, living, human, present, immediate, embodied theater that prefers emotional extremity to cleverness, devastation to tidiness. In short, as Francis Bacon might put it, a preference for "sensation without the boredom of conveyance." As little mediation as possible.

Anyway. My two cents.

-M

cgeye said...

During the Arena Stage/OF confab a week or so ago, someone tweeted that the new spectacle in America lie in restaurants and star chefs -- let me dig for a second -- can't find the Tweet, but if you read Sheehan, Ruhlman and other food critics, the energy that young firstnighters spent on Broadway back in the day is now spent sitting at a bar or cafe, having a perfectly composed small plate.

I've eaten mac n cheese and a salad at a joint and got the distinct impression that I was loved -- not welcomed, *loved*. I can't recall the last time theatre did that for me.

RVCBard said...

So perhaps our ads should be "Come and we'll feed you. And you might catch a play too."

Maybe we ought to be courting restaurants and eateries with our performances.

It's easy to imagine an event as opposed to "just a play" where we sit and consume theatre the same way we do film and TV.

I want theatre where people can eat, talk, pay attention, get distracted - with the play as a sort of nexus instead of the entirety. An event, not just a play.

isaac butler said...

so what's the difference between this revolutionary idea and dinner theater? quality?

99 said...

Huh. Good point. I would think the quality of the offering, in some cases. In others...maybe not so much.

Is that a bad thing?

Though I generally get the sense from dinner theatre, that it's more DINNER theatre and less "Let's share a meal and see a show."

Mark S. said...

I think it's about reclaiming the idea of festival, restoring something profoundly sensual, ecstatic, even erotic, to the theater.

-M

RVCBard said...

What Mark said.

To elaborate, I guess I should be thinking along the lines of a circus or carnival than TV or film with 4 walls.

Mark S. said...

I think another model we can look at (partly because it doesn't exist anymore so it's full of imaginative possibility) is the ancient Greek theater festival. I imagine they were raucous and moving in turns: tragedy, comedy, feast, orgy, liturgy, rock concert.

-M

cgeye said...

99,
In the case of Colorado's dinner theatres, nope, theatre is the key; the dinner backs the costs.

So, okay, you've got your RAGTIME (which was amazing) or CHICAGO, lots of hooves on the stage, live band backing them, solid sets and costuming -- so yeah, a drink costs $7-10, and the woman who made me cry as Sarah's asking me if I wanted dessert. It was one of the few times I tipped 25% -- if I had jewels, I'd have thrown them at her.

I still don't know if a working dinner theatre with plays we love would work with actor-servers or dedicated servers; whether it should be in a restaurant with a stage, or a theatre with a meal preparation setup. Either way, what would it hurt us to consider keeping an audience close for two hours, then letting them go home, sated?

99 said...

cgeye- That absolutely does sound fabulous and awesome. I will plead my coastal, NYLACHI-based total lack of experience with dinner theatre on that one. If that's what it is, or can be, I do groove on that.

Now if people can Tweet during the show about the meal and the performances, and post to facebook, we're onto something.

Mark S. said...

99, I think people should be able to tweet at the theater or at a festival only if they're willing to say, "While I make love to you, while you make love to me, while I fuck you, while you fuck me, while I'm screaming your name because I'm in the midst of absolute and indescribable pleasure, it's fine for you to be tweeting or on facebook."

-M

RVCBard said...

99,

I really don't see why not.

More and more I'm glad that I haven't been saturated in theatre my whole life.

But I still want to join the circus.

cgeye said...

You asked -- in between courses, there's plenty of time:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Boulder-CO/Boulders-Dinner-Theatre/57352305263

Scott Walters said...

George wrote: " To take the examples from television that you note in terms of narrative form: Yes, The Sopranos is more complex than Dragnet, The Wire more complex than Starsky and Hutch. But are either of these shows more complex than the narrative structures of the Alain Resnais films of the 1950s or the films of the German Expressionists before that (before your time? They were before mine too, but knowing them demonstrates to me that there's little new under the sun)? With Finnegans Wake or Ulysses?"

We need to keep clear our ability to distinguish between different kinds of art. Those Modernist styles and works you mention, George, have always been created for an elite audience. Ortega y Gassett made that pretty clear in "Revolt of the Masses" and "The Dehumanization of Art" -- Modernist art exists to separate the intellectual classes, the Mass from the Elite. Comparing Starsky and Hutch to "Ulysses" is creating a straw man argument that presents as reality a past that never existed. The kind of people who would slog through "Ulysses" (much less "Finnegans Wake") aren't being pulled away by the wonders of Twitter any more than they were pulled away by radio when it came on the scene. For a Modernist, George, you sure have a reactionary's love of the past!

I'm with J on this -- make the shows better. We've lost our sense of the needs of an audience experiencing a narrative in real time.

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