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February 17, 1994 - Image 9

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-02-17

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

A Timid
Response
* This week LSA Dean Edie
Goldenberg finally issued a response
to repeated faculty charges of "si-
lence from above" regarding the
shameful inquisition of sociology Pro-
fessor David Goldberg on trumped-
up charges of racial and sexual ha-
rassment. Like the only other previ-
ous public administrative response
-which came from the now-resigned
*chair of the Department of Sociology

Howard Schuman - Dean
Goldenberg criticized the manner in
which the charges were brought, but
Ostopped short of condemning the
charges themselves. Inadequate as her
response was, Dean Goldenberg was
the first administrator to apologize to
Goldberg for the unfair treatment he
received a year ago. It is unfortunate
that she could not muster the courage
to defend the 37-year sociology vet-
eran sooner and more forcefully.
The incident began March 31,
01993 when a group of unnamed gradu-
ate students distributed a letter accus-
ing Goldberg of sexually and racially
harassing students in his Statistics
510 course. It later came out that the
students were not even in Goldberg's
class, and their evidence was totally
unconvincing.
What made this incident so dis-
turbing is that the dean, the provost,
and even the chair of Goldberg's de-
partment gave way to the charges
before even consulting Goldberg for
his side of the story. Schuman imme-
diately buckled to the students and
took away Goldberg's class. When
Goldberg protested, Schuman split
the class into two sections (with one
section, presumably reserved for the
non-racists, taught by another profes-
sor). Dean Goldenberg said in an in-
terview that Schuman contacted her
soon after the charges were filed, and
she encouraged him to continue in-
vestigating.
When the Goldberg affair came
up at the May regents' meeting, Pro-
vost Gilbert Whittaker raised other
concerns about quality of Goldberg's
teaching which were totally irrelevant
to the charges at hand, and he failed to
*roduce any evidence to back them
up.
It soon became evident that the
harassment charges were fallacious
- a May 17 letter supporting
Goldberg bearing 59 mainly faculty
signatures all but proved it. And with
hindsight, almost anyone can recog-
nize that anonymous accusations are
a relic best left to the McCarthy era.
But rather than apologizing and giv-
4g Goldberg his class back, the ad-
ministration let the Goldberg affair
drag on for a year.
Now Dean Goldenberg has
weighed in on the side of timidity. In
her February 14 letter, she wrote that
unsigned leaflets and ad hominem
attacks do not constitute an appropri-
ate way to raise issues on a University
campus, and added, "I wish to make it
clear that no finding was made of
!acism or sexism on his part."
Of course, this is already common
knowledge, and hardly constitutes a
stirring defense of her colleague in
the face of the particularly insidious
charges.
Goldenberg also disputed charges
of official silence by claiming
Schuman "chastised the anonymous
accusers for the manner in which they
Orought those charges" and "used a
powerful metaphor, likening the com-
plaints ... to charges brought in the
McCarthy era" in a letter to the Daily
and a meeting with the students.
Actually, all Schuman wrote was
that he "regretted" that students didn't
"feel it annrnnriate ornosible to brinoe

Once upon a time, advertising
was advertising, art was art, and
never the twain did meet. No
longer is this true. Today ...
here have always been commercials.
O
At least for a generation weaned on tele
vision, it seems like there've always
been commercials. But advertising in
the so-called age of information has
become something its inventors could hardly have
foreseen. At its best, today's advertising is deemed
'art' by its aficionados; at its worst it's simply blatantly
manipulative. Has western culture sunk so low that
groundbreaking artistic works are fashioned more with
profit in mind than lofty ideals? Yeah, it has.
But is it such a crime that art hasbecome so
commercialized? With information traveling at a light-
ening-fast pace across the entire planet, can today's
artist be content with small, city-wide followings when
it's feasible that millions of people can view an artist's
work during every commercial break? Some would say
it is a crime. That art should be 'Art' with a
capital 'A' and should express all that is
noble and romantic about the human soul.
Art should move you to tears,
goddammit! It should make you ap-
preciate the slender beauty of a
single flower-petal, not in-
duce an intense crav-
ing for Cheetos to
start rumbling
deep in your gut
while you watch
a hockey game.
Unfortu -
nately 'pure art'
has become a

By CHRIS LEPLEY

phrase whispered
with quiet cynicism
by the public. And what
the hell should art mean
to us anyway? A poster of
a big purple Georgia
O'Keefe flower plastered
on a door and covered with
contact paper so your friends
can write messages on it telling
you to get your ass to dinner at
six? My mother says that when I
graduate from college I won't want
to have posters on my walls any-
more. Judging from the decor in
her house that means I'll want
crusty oil-paintings of indecipher-
able landscapes with snow and
wagon-wheels hung above the
sofa. The day I hang a plastic'
mandolin on my wall is the day I
put a bullet in my head.
Be it a mass-produced poster
or an original hanging in
Versailles, a DaVinci, as they say,
is a DaVinci, and time has lent it
the credibility of high art. But1
with the way television can create
a fad, raise it to nationwide popu-
larity in a day, then crush it like a
nut in less time than it takes to
press a button on the remote, we
don't have time to create new
DaVincis or Michaelangelos, and
truthfully, no one seems to have
the inclination, either.
So where are all the artists,
then? Well, it appears that
they're either being advertised
on those cheap "starving art-
ist sale" commercials, or
they're hard at work cre-
ating computer software -
to animate football play-
ing beer bottles.
Great strides have
been made in the field of com-
puter animation in the past few years,
and the technology seems to be multi- II

drink Coke. It's going toward morphing faces in music
videos and shaving commercials. It's going toward
annoying the hell out of you during commercial breaks
during "Seinfeld."
Not that there are no true innovations being made in
the field of "pure art," but let's 'face it, the average
couch potato American slob doesn't know from art; he
or she knows television. So what's on television that
could be considered
art anyway?
Not the programs,
that's for sure. Al-
though actors are art-
ists in their own right
- not to mention
screenwriters, produc-
ers, directors, etc. -
I'd like to think that the
people who make
"Empty Nest" and
"America's Funniest
Home Videos" know
exactly what it is that
they're shoveling, and
art it ain't. Of course
there are worthwhile
shows on television
which raise the medium
to new heights and ex-
plore stunning issues of
post modernism, most no-
tably David Lynch's
"Twin Peaks" and even
currently running shows
like "NYPD Blue," "The
Simpsons," "Seinfeld"
and "Homicide." But even if the
programs you watch make pretensions
toward art which somewhat hold water, the
commercials that interrupt them certainly
can't.
The single biggest insult to the American tele-
vision viewer is the rash of new commercials hyped
before the Super Bowl each year. Even though the
holiday season is dead and buried by the time that fatal
Sunday rolls around, it is that day which is the pagan
advertising industry's celebration of the fiscal new
year. Hapless viewers are bombarded with "Bud
Bowl XXIII" as well as whatever new multi-million
dollar celebrity stroke-off Pepsi and Coke have
come up with. The apocalypse must be on its way
when we get commercials for upcoming com-
mercials. I'm sure it's mentioned in Revela-
tions somewhere.
Of course "commercial" television isn't the
only place where advertisers can reach the
unsuspecting public. Everyone expects com-
mercial breaks in TV, and can engage in a
refreshing bit of pseudo-socialist rebellion by
going to the bathroom during the break, en-
abling yourself a moment of anti-capitalist eu-
phoria as you walk back in and plop down on the
couch, cackling triumphantly at the television "Haha!
T don't lwa nt a ga , ,,sckfik Iwan'teven

3

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