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March 16, 1990 - Image 20

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-03-16
Note:
This is a tabloid page

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.a F1eile Padraig, as we say in
Gaeilge, is rolling around again,
and soon I'll hear talk of everyone
"being Irish for a day", which
involves millions of Americans
getting locked out of
their heads in honor ofQ
the Irish.
What would happen
if everyone was French
for a day? Would we all
grow lots of sweaty
armpit hair and be
obnoxious? Or if we
were English for a day?
Would we all be really
snotty and proper with a
Sahara-dry sense of
humor, and say "simply"
at every opportunity? Or
maybe we could all be
Lebanese for a day.
That would be a blast.
But no, you will be
Irish for a day, get
palatically drunk, and
generally propagate the
stereotype of the drink-
addled Irish.
Enter moi. Being
vastly knowledgeable in
matters Irish, I have
compiled a list of things
which I feel distinguish
the Irish from any others
(Note: much of this is
based on personal-
experience, which in all \
truth should not be
accepted as entirely
representative of my people). I
would like to dispel some of the
myths about Ireland, and provide
you with some useful
anthropological information which
will help you to really be Irish for
a day.
DRINK - "You Irish are all drunks",
I have been told on several
occasions. This is simply untrue.
Unfortunately, I myself have
been unable to dispel this myth,
but I do know many Irish people
who are not drunks.
I- My Uncle Tony, who died in
March of 1985, and has not had a
drink since.
2- Other dead Irish people.
3- I am having a touch of writer's

block here, but will return to this
category shortly.
HISTORY - Ireland began in the
late 18th century when a guy
called Arthur Guinness invented
drink. Nobody remembers much
about what happened before that,
just dinosaurs and stuff.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS - This
means a bar with no roof, like on a
balcony, or a deck. You can drink
and be healthy at the same time.
STORYTELLING - Being Irish causes
one to exaggerate wildly,
especially about Ireland. This is
why Ireland doesn't have any
famous journalists. We are prone
to looking to more interesting
sources than people in ties. The
notion of fact being stranger than
fiction is a load of rubbish
invented by insecure American
journalists.
ACCENT - We do not all speak like
the woman in the Irish Spring
commercial, thank you very
much. We have a broad, lilting
accent which for some reason
attracts drunk women in bars,
creates untold problems with
airport security guards, and causes
operators at toll-free numbers to
hang up on you because they
can't understand a word you are
saying. Instead of trying to speak
like a leprechaun, curse
frequently and mumble
incoherently (even when sober)

for at true Irish accent. "
APPEARANCE - You may think that
all Irish people have red hair, blue
eyes, fair skin and freckles, just as
Irish people think all Americans
are loud and obnoxious, and have
even teeth, small brains and groin
muscles the size of grapefruits,
which we all know is not true. As
mentioned, there is only one red
haired woman in Ireland, and she
got hired to do Irish Spring
commercials. We are generally,
ah...leaner than Americans.
CARS - Try driving on the wrong
side of the road, like we do in
Ireland. Seriously, we constantly
drive on the wrong side, but
hardly anyone ever gets hurt.
Also, because there
are fewer cars in
Ireland, we are
much more
carefree about
driving (carefree-
ignoring stop signs,
speed limits, other
restrictive stuff).
So go ahead, be
e-Y7 carefree.
T E BEAC - "The
beach be one of
the best things we
got" sings Jojo
Richman, and he's
right. Americans
love the beach. An
Irish person on the
beach looks like a
pig with a video
recorder. Y'know?
.v Just doesn't look
right. The beach is
a microwave for
Irish people. I go
to the beach with
half of Bain de
Soleil's range of
lotions (from 15
though 48) in my
bag, and I still cook
like bacon. We are
not comfortable with beach
goings-on. I tried bodysurfing and
ended up with gravel halfway
down my oesophagus. In Daytona
Beach three years ago, I mistook a
dolphin for a shark, rocketed out
of the water like a Polaris missile,
and "alerted" everyone on the
beach. All of these people were
just sitting there watching a pink
person with a gravel face jumping
up and down screaming
"SHARK" until my friends
hauled me away in mortified
silence. Then to calm me down,
we went riding ATV's along the
beach, which I promptly fell off
and cracked three ribs. Beach bars
are far safer places.
POLITICS - Being Irish means

being able to concisely (and
frequently) explain the entire
political and socio-economic
history of Northern Ireland for
clueless Americans who know
that "it's something to do with
the Catholics and the
Protestants". Where do these
people get their news? Calvin and
Hobbes?
THE IRA - The IRA are terrorists.
They would be freedom fighters,
but Ronald Reagan never
bankrolled them (as far as I
know). Their aim is to establish a
Marxist-Leninist Irish state. They
murder people, and that gets
them onto page three of the New
York Times, which is basically the
only Irish news I ever get over
here. They also have enough
Semtex to blow the White House
to the moon, which the more I
think about it is a pretty cool idea.
They are killers first and
foremost, and warrant no support.
GREEN BEER - "Only in America",
Bono once said. In fact, it was
probably the only intelligent
thing the smarmy little shit ever
said. Can you imagine drinking
red, white and blue Budweiser on
Independence day? Drink real
beer, and lots of it. Drinking is
important for society. For
example, when you drink beer,
you pay the bar, they pay the
brewery, and the brewery pays
the farmer. So the farmer gets
rich, and they don't need to have
Farm Aid again, which means
Willie Nelson is denied a chance
to sing. This is what I call social
progress.
IRISH SAYINGS - I have to set the
record straight on this one. I am
pretty sure that on St. Patricks
day, someone will say to me "may
the road rise before you". This is
what Irish people say to tourists.
It means absolutely nothing.
Read it again. We could say "may
the road curve sharply to your left
and go over the river", and sure
enough, some tourist would come
home and repeat it to an Irish
acquaintance. Stick with
Americanisms. We bring them
home with us.
Well, I suppose I should get
with the spirit. It's not like people
are going to go around wishing
each other "the luck of the East
Germans".
I'll be pondering what makes
the Irish lucky on the 17th. And if
I bump into you, I'll toast you
with the word "Slainte". To your
health. And then I'll get drunker.

Madison and Dudley Andrews
from the University of Iowa. The
panel found that Ann Arbor had
been recognized throughout the
country for years as a center for
film activity, and suggested that
the University might want to have
something to do with this interest.
and energy.
As a result of the inquiry, the
University decided to fund the F/
V Studies program and gave it a
suite of offices. The Program was
able to buy equipment for both
viewing and production, and now
has four professors who teach film
full time. Konigsberg says that the
University's funding of the
auditorium rentals for the film
societies indicates that "the
University is much more
hospitable to media."
The F/V Studies Program's
number of concentrators has more
than doubled in the least year,
and general enrollments in film
classes reach the ceiling early in
registration. Although at some
point the Program would like to
have a graduate program, for the
meantime they are concentrating
on the undergraduates.
Konigsberg remains confident
that the success of the Program
will have an effect on the film
societies. "I think an atmosphere
has been created over the last few
years which has alerted students
to something that they were not
so much ignorant of, but that they
had forgotten - and that is the
excitement of film as an
international medium, as a means
of breaking down barriers of
ignorance, of opening up
understanding between people of
different nations and cultures.
This is a very exciting part of
university life. I think the
atmosphere has improved
considerably, students are
responding, and the effects on
film societies should become
evident."
The AAFC feels more pessimistic
about the current generation of
students. Hallman attributes the
Co-op's lack of success to
"changing attitudes among
people from 10 years ago to today.
I can see that in my generation of
schoolmates that I don't see as
many people that are interested
in film. They just have different
priorities. I see the trends in
personal thoughts. Before,,
alternative was seen as cool. Now,
it's not so much. Mainstream is
better."
f course, film taste
parallels political
and social trends to
some extent. The
current excitement
over emerging Black filmmakers

stands as testament to interest in
race relations and diversity. In the
late '60s and early '70s, the
political and social climates in this
country corresponded with a
radicalization of student bodies.
The result was a moving away
from traditional modes of
thought, and avant garde and
political cinema enjoyed a
consequent popularity.
Collins of the Michigan
Theater views the change in film
consumption as a result of the
cyclically changing politics and
generations. "This current
generation of students, they are,
for the most part, the children of
people who established the
tremendous film societies the u-
Mused to have. And it seems, like
it or not, that every generation
rejects the desires of the prior
generation. The previous
generation of film-goers was very
active. They wanted to go out,
they wanted to experience new
things, they wanted to do things
that were radical and wacky and
different and wild."
Collins also has his own
personal theory for past interest in
avant garde films: "You know
what it was? Naked women. You
could go to the 16mm art festival,
and you could see lovely ladies in
the buff. Which nowadays you
can just go to the mall and see the
same titillation quality." Now that
the sex has spurted into the
mainstream, oozing onto the
screen at Showcase, students have
one less reason to go to art
festivals.
Predicting that the next
generation, our children, will
return to an interest in the
creative and the avant garde,
Collins characterizes our
generation as conformist, in
contrast to our parents' activism.
"Instead of wanting to be
different, instead of wanting to
push ahead into new territories,
they're more interested in more
of a conforming kind of social
behavior. So people will do
something if other people are
doing it, so people tend to move
in relatively large groups. There
isn't the kind of fractionalization,
individuality, that it seemed to be
in this previous generation."
If indeed our generation's tastes
run more to the Porky's spectrum
than the Ingmar Bergman, is it
then impossible for the artistically
oriented film societies to continue
their work? Failing film societies
faced with low attendance have
one of two choices: change, or
fold.
The success of Mediatrics can
be attributed to its efforts to
access popular tastes. Cinema
Guild finds itself bankrolling the

less popular films with movies
that are sure to bring in lots of
money. "We try to show what's
more interesting, or otherwise
what might not be shown in this
area, but it's also a financial thing,
so next month we'll be showing
E.T. because that's going to bring
in lots of money," Shaiman
explains. "But we'll also be
showing The Hurncane, an old
John Ford film, that anybody who
doesn't know John Ford is not
going to know."
Collins, however, disagrees.
The Michigan Theater itself was
built in 1928 as a silent movie
palace. Butterfield Theaters
operated it until 1979, when it
was purchased by a not-for-profit
organization called the Michigan
Theater Foundation. The MTF
spent two million dollars in
restorations, and runs its diverse
program. The Michigan extends
itself beyond film, with a drama
season, programs for children,
avant garde performances, and
live music.
In looking over the agenda for
the Michigan, it would seem as if
the psychology behind its
programming concurs with that of
Cinema Guild. The Michigan
shows films like the Soviet Little
Vera, but also the occasional Bill
and Ted's Exllent Aduenhmre.
Especially with its large crowd of
college students, it would at first
seem surprising that Little Vera
was very successful but that Bill
and Ted's did mediocre business.
Collins claims that it's not so easy
to predict which films will bring
in money and which won't. His
programming, he asserts, does not
rely on the mainstream appeal of
certain films. "You never know
how it's going to go, month to
month, you just have to give it
your best shot and see how it
turns out. I
suppose there is
a science to
what I do, but
no formula."
The Michigan
has turned from
showing films
for one night
only to bringing
in certain
movies for
longer runs.
Whereas
Collins plans
the films for the
Michigan
himself, the
film societies
choose as a
group. In the
Co-op, each of
the members
submits a list of
10 or so films

among
the
different
film
societies,
there
seems to
be a
certain
amount
of
oMpeti mo

willicall shback a y
from us cause th
the Mic an Theat ."
'ILiC SS

they wou like to show for the
semester. In the '70s, when they
were showing every night, the
members could suggest up to 50
films each. The members meet
and plan out the semester's
agenda. The different groups
then compare lists to assure that
no two groups will be-showing the
same film in a semester.
While there is cooperation

between the campus groups and
the Michigan Theater. According
to both AAFC and Cinema Guild,
they have approached the
Michigan about a cooperative
effort. The Michigan did not
respond. Shaiman explains, "The
Michigan Theater can draw
bigger titles because they can
draw bigger crowds and they can
buy concessions." Cinema Guild
once had to cancel a film because
the Michigan showed it before
they did, in the same semester.
Many students prefer to see films
in the sumptuous setting of the
restored theater, as opposed to
the classrooms of the campus
groups.
"Now we're competing with
the Michigan Theater directly,"
explains Phil Hallman of AAFC.
"What we used to do, is we'd
show a film like Bill and Ted's
Excellent Adventure. We'd show
those kinds of films maybe twice
a month, and that would basically
pay for all the other films.

/ I

.",-..
' -.,..

by Ronan G.
Lynch

s

MEEM l ┬▒Marsh 6,1990

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