Arts and Culture

The Court of Public Opinion Needs Due Process

The presumption of innocence is an excellent legal principle.  It raises the standard necessary to convict a person (or persons) of a given crime and prevents countless wrongful convictions every year.  The United Nations even considers it a basic human right.  Would we not therefore be justifiably concerned if a court announced, “From now on, we will operate under the presumption of guilt, and anyone who is accused must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they did not commit the crime with which they were charged”? Wrongful convictions would be handed down constantly.  Innumerable lives would be ruined if ever the wrongfully accused could not disprove false accusations.

The Whining of the Lambs

The predictable furor over Hannibal’s carnivorous pigs, blood-sucking eel, and questionable dinner parties has swelled so loud that it has obscured the one really shocking fact about what was supposed to be the scare novel of the season:
 
It isn’t scary.
 

Saving the Phenomena

Everyone you know is actually an actor in a television show broadcast to the real humans living in the Alpha Centauri star system. It is possible’after all, you’re pretty gullible.  Perhaps the person claiming to be Elvis isn’t nuts; maybe she really is Elvis. Maybe the Muppets are the ultimate arbiters of the good. Or perhaps language is inherently an abstraction, useless for conveying truths about individual persons. 
 

Falling

Alfred Hitchcock made 52 movies, and one terrifying one.
 
Why does Vertigo retain its hold on us? For me, its seminal moment must come when we find Jimmy Stewart staring, stricken, at a woman who reminds him 

Rediscovering a Great Ruin

Usually, when a reviewer writes that a production was ‘risky,’ he means, ‘Well, I didn’t like it, but it seems very cultured, and everyone else laughed at the same times.’ But Gerard Passannante’s production of ‘T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land’ (as adapted by the director) managed to be risky without showing off or shoving his avant-garde ambitions in front of Eliot’s words. The show was passionate, witty, and well-acted.
 

DMX: The Darker Side of Modernity

Since rap’s beginning, rappers have faced the dilemma of whether their function is closer to that of reporters’simply describing life in the hood (as Public Enemy said, ‘Rap is the black CNN’), or leaders who can provide guidance about how to escape its dire conditions. On ‘And Then There Was X, DMX (otherwise known as Dark Man X) attempts to be both preacher and player on the same CD. The result is an awkward and muddled message, along with a less than compelling musical effort.
 

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