Page 4 --The Michigan Daily-Weekend etc.-January 23,1992
kills the MTV star
by Stephen Henderson
I want my MTV!
Remember that catchy little phrase? During the' 80s, everyone from Billy
Idol to Fleetwood Mac blurted it out in commercials for the revolutionary
music channel. Sting even put the slogan to music at the end of the Dire
Straits hit, Money for Nothing.
But now, a less famous and more adamant group of people has adopted
the phrase, and is hurling it at their local cable franchise.
The citizens of Vineland, N.J., have literally taken to the streets this
m(nth to tell Sammons Communications that its decision to replace MTV
with the Video Jukebox Network stinks.
Sammons, which pumps cable to Vineland and several other New Jersey
communities, cut MTV from its basic service in some areas on January 1.
Since then, teenagers,, parents, members of the city council and even the
mayor have expressed their contempt for the Video Jukebox, and their
support for MTV.
It's no surprise to me that the people of Vineland are pissed off. Video
Jukebox is a poor clone of what MTV was when it started 10 years ago. The
station just airs video after video all day; there are no game shows or other
specialty and entertainment pro-
Even worse, the station has no
VJs. Viewers simply call up and se-
lect the videos they want to see-for
=$.50 per call, that is. Videos come
on, and then they go off. There's no
talk in-between or anything. Occa-
sionally there's a commercial or two,
but you really get the feeling that
some computer is controlling what's
on the screen - it's sort of like an
episodeof The Twilight Zone. Mind- the lfifle pictur e
less human blobs call up the TV network and punch in a few numbers so a
machine can spit out some Vanilla Ice video. The thought scares me.
MTV is much more than that. The network has broken away from the rote,
unimaginative format of "all videos all the. time," and has branched into
programming that many other networks have left untouched. In fact, it seems
like there's something for just about everybody on MTV.
The sassy and irreverent "Totally" Pauly Shore aptly appeals to the
suburban teenage crowd, while Yo MTV Raps attracts a more urban group.
Kurt Loder's MTV WorldNewsand The Week in Rock joins music with other
The station has also produced a number of documentaries in recent years,
including two that examined the roles women play in the rock and rap worlds
,and oen more that took a look at current sexual attitudes and behavior. The
network's socially conscious "Rock the Vote" and "Safe Sex" public service
campaigns also add to the schedule.
What most clearly separates the station from any other is the often bizarre
way it presents material. You learn to expect the unusual when you watch
MTV. The station's ads rarely make sense; Liquid Television, a newer
addition to the network, often takes an ordinary situation and makes it
strangely ironic, with just the right amount of MTV's standard-breaking
Unfortunately, Sammons Communications seems more concerned with
the $2.50 per call it will make from the Video Jukebox than with the actual
quality of its programming.
But the people of Vineland have something to say about that, and they're
each saying it loud and clear: I WANT MY MTV!
Odetta moves it on
by Eizabeth Lenhard
Despite the goofy photo, Livingston Taylor is much more than just James' brother - he's a down-to-earth,
unpretentious folk musician in his own right. And his first name's mighty cool.
Lie 's good to Livigston Taylor
by Nima Hodaei
The k Livingston Taylor
A seems to embody the
true folk performer.
He plays the songs that make people
smile, and has an amazingly down-
to-earth personality. There's little
in the way of pretentiousness in his
attitude or appearance. Taylor con-
tributes this trait to the fact that he
has never forgotten what it's taken
to get here.
"Some people are confused about
which side their bread is buttered
on," says Taylor. "My audience but-
-ters my bread. A lot of artists be-
lieve that their careers will be made
or improved if a record company
likes them. The reality is that the
only way the record company will
like them is if an audience likes
them first. You've really got to
have that audience."
While Taylor may be a folk
artist, he doesn't necessarily ap-
proach his music in the same manner
as fellow performers. Utilizing
synthesizers and drum machines,
Taylor breaks stereotypes without
losing the acoustic elements that
have defined his style.
"There's no such thing as acous-
tic music," he says. "All music is
amplified. Records are made in an
electronic process. The thing that's
crucial to good music is good songs.
Does it matter whether the drum-
mer is electronic or live? It matters
when you're live, but it doesn't
matter when you're recording."
Taylor's folk ambitions started
at a young age, growing up in a very
music-oriented family. Continu-
ously compared to older brother
James, Livingston is not bothered by
the long shadow that his famous
brother has cast upon him He says
that the two are each other's great-
est fans. However, when asked about
the comparisons to James, Liv-
ingston shies away.
"James is a great brother and he's
a great musician," states Taylor.
"Having (him) as a brother has been
a wonderful benefit to my life- ca-
reer-wise and every other way. He's
been a wonderful asset."
Although never quite as recog-
nized as his older brother, Liv-
ingston is by no means an amateur to
the music business.
Six albums (with another up-
coming this year), hundreds of con-
certs each year, and 24-years later,
Taylor remains a stable performer
on the folk circuit, and he insists he
couldn't be happier. "The travel is
hard," he says, "but it's really won-
derful for me to go and see people
who like me and whom I like. It's
what I like doing."
It's this simple adoration of mu-
sic that makes Taylor and his work
so easily accessible. He claims that,
most importantly, he loves life, and
with song titles such as "Life is
Good," "It's Love," and "Falling in
Love with You," you know he re-
ally means it. His music doesn't of-
fer his listeners provocatively deep
statements, nor should it.
See TAYLOR, Page 8
Lambs, Fear battle for Best Thriller of '91
by Aaron Hamburger
Tnt = Every note she sings
is uniquely hers. She's
to an art form, and whatever
obstacles she encounters (as she
penned in a recent song) she'll "keep
on movin' it on."
Way before Tiffany and Ma-
donna, before Cher, there was a one-
name ilady of folk and she's lasted a
lot longer than that red-haired
Odetta is a prevailing wind in the
shifting sands of the "area of folk
music," and she's going to radiate
some of her positive energy and
high-powered musical expression
onto Ann Arbor audiences at the
See ODEITA, Page 8
The two prime contenders for the
title of Best Thriller of 1991 are
The Silence of the Lambs and Cape
Fear. Both films have had their
share of box-office and critical suc-
cess. But which film truly deserves
the bragging rights, the glory, et al
which is associated with the Title?
The battle could be decided in a few
key head-to-head match-ups.
VILLAIN: Every good thriller
needs a decent villain. Too bad Max
Cady (Robert DeNiro) of Cape
Fear is just that, merely decent.
DeNiro makes a few threats in a
hokey Kentucky-fried accent, shouts
bizarre sermons at Nick Nolte's an-
noying, bickering family, and
shamelessly imitates the competi-
tion in a mock-cannibalism scene.
Even though the screenplay
makes repeated fervent attempts to
tell the audience how clever he is,
DeNiro's Cady never comes through
as having a shred of real brilliance;
his self-taught law expertise seems
like a plot gimmick which doesn't
fit in with the rest of the character.
Mostly, Cady seems like the
Hick from Hell who wouldn't
stand a chance against Dr. Hannibal
Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) from
Lambs. Hopkins projects a chilling
omniscience that makes his presence
felt in scenes that Lecter doesn't
even appear in. Although the charac-
ter only has about five or six scenes
in the movie, when you leave Lambs,
Hannibal the Cannibal is the one
ADVANTAGE: The Silence of the
CAST: This one's a tough call. On
one side, you've got two Oscar-win-
ners (DeNiro and Jessica Lange),
Nick Nolte, and a smashing debut
performance from hitherto un-
known Juliette Lewis.
On the other side, there's a solid
cast of supporting players led by re-
liable Scott Glenn from The Hunt
for Red October, and the two best
performances of the year from An-
thony Hopkins and Jodie Foster. The
edge would go to Cape Fear, except
that DeNiro never brings anything
special to the role of Max Cady that
isn't already in the script, while
Hopkins leaves an indelible mark on
SCREENPLAY: No contest. Ted
Tally's script for Lambs from
Thomas Harris' novel adroitly con-
structs its suspenseful plot, taking
time along the way to introduce its
well-rounded, faceted characters and
even a feminist subtext.
Wesley Strick's screenplay for
Fear reaches for importance by
pushing some Biblical imagery and
weighty themes of sin and punish-
ment, which the movie's hollow
core can't support. Also, Nolte's
travails never seem very compelling
because the movie spends so much
time showing what a rotten guy his
character is. When Nolte battles
DeNiro, it's like watching Hitler
battle Mussolini, only less interest-
ing. Without Scorsese's furious
camera cuts, they'd be mush.
bunch of whiny brats than human
Lambs allows its theme of re-
pression to grow organically from
its plot. Each character in the film
wages a private war against his or
her own anxieties and fears. Some
prove effective in their attempts at
repression (Scott Glenn refrains
from hitting on Jodie Foster); oth-
ers do not (Buffalo Bill's repressed
homosexuality takes over his mind
and drives him insane.)
The greatest fear or anxiety that
all the characters share is that their
fears and anxieties will escape their
control, just as Lecter escapes soci-
ety's attempts to control him at the
end of the film.
ADVANTAGE: The Silence of the
throws Fear on the wide screen,
shooting the movie in Cinemascope,
and indulges in almost excessive
cuts and close-ups to heighten the
cartoon-like hyperreality of the
Demme uses a somber palette of
earth tones, greys, blues and browns
(that's why Jodie dyed her hair!) to
suggest the bleakness of the psycho-
logical landscape depicted in the
movie. Every so often Demme uses
red (Foster's lipstick, blood baths,
Lecter's triumphant escape) for em-
THRILLS: Lambs has its share of
spine-tingling, especially in the last
scene, in which Foster's character
confronts Buffalo Bill.
Fear, however, resorts to so
many cheap tricks (streaking
cnmetsi 1lava-la~ma backgrounds for
HAMBURGER FACTOR: The
Hamburger Factor is the something
special that makes a film not just a
night out at the movies, but an
experience and a cultural phe-
nomenon. It's not unreasonable to
expect that two projects like these
with the amount of talent involved
should have Hamburger to spare.
Though a lot of people liked
Fear, no one's reading The Execu-
tioners (Fear's source) to the ex-
tent that the public is gobbling up
copies of Harris' novel. Moviegoers
have watched Lambs over and over,
both in the theaters and on home
video, with a tenacity that even ri-
vals Max Cady.
The real test, however, is to walk
into a crowded room and see how
many more people recognize
"Hannibal the Cannibal" than they
ADVANTAGE: The Silence of the
DIRECTOR: Jonathan Demme's
direction in Lambs is brilliant, but
overall as a director, his repertoire
can't even come close to that of the
director of Mean Streets, Taxi;
Driver, Raging Bull, The Last Temp-
tation of Christ and Good-Fellas,
Martin Scorsese. Though Demme
does just as good a job as Scorsese,
you've got to give Marty the edge.
ADVANTAGE: Cape Fear.
OVERALL: Cape Fear, though
competent, escapist entertainment,
never realizes its delusions of
grandeur (which interfere with the
enjoyment of the movie). The Si-
lence of the Lambs is a brilliantly
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