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October 03, 2005 - Image 8

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8A -The Michigan Daily - Monday, October 3, 2005

ARTS

Saving 'Cocaine Kate'

a

There's a strange sort of hypocrisy
and insanity in America that has
nothing to do with conservatives,
liberals, shooting up Arabs or the resur-
gent mania concerning the educational
benefits of intelligent design theories.
(Apparently, the new millennium simply
restarted us at the beginning
of our last century.) No, turn
to the Op/Ed page for that.
This is pop culture.
And it's in the realm of
pop culture that we find the
most peculiar phenomenon
of artistic immunity. Because -
when Bill Clinton gets a
blow job, he gets impeached.
When Charlie Sheen gets a
few hundred of them, he gets AM
a new TV show. Drug aficio- AN
nado Robert Downey Jr. still

no one wants to head the company who
stands by its coke fiend, shattered deals
with Burberry and Chanel followed.
Artistic immunity dictates that Moss
will spend a year in recovery before sob-
bing to Oprah about her dark days and
making a triumphant return. But should
she? Although high fashion
houses clamor for Cocaine
Kate, although she has the
wide-eyed, pouty face and
waifish figure that's defined
the world of modeling since
the '90s, there's a limit to
how far even the greatest
supermodel can push her sta-
tus as the oppressed artiste.
If she's not the tortured
NDA genius that art justifiers were
looking for, perhaps legend-
LADE ary director Roman Polanski

0

A
DR

gets work, and I'd be surprised if anyone
even remembers when Hugh Grant was
caught on the roadside with a hot young
hooker in his lap.
So while Grant continues to bring the
stammeringly funny to a string of charm-
ing British comedies ("Bridget Jones's
Diary," "Love, Actually," "About a Boy,"
etc.), Republican Bob Livingston lost his
gig as Speaker of the House to an extra-
marital affair in the wake of the Clinton
impeachment furor. And yet there's no
logical answer as to why we as a society
are so tolerant of misbehaving celebrities.
If the puritanical urge to snuff out
indecency in every corner of our culture
extends to the peoplewho run our govern-
ment, it should logically follow that the
men and women who inform our nation's
youth - What's hot in fashion? Just ask
coke-queen Kate Moss - would be jus-
tifiably held to the same standards. Sure,
we elect our officials, but our cinema-
going, album-buying, HBO-subscribing
dollars elect our celebrities.
Unfortunately for all the indiscreet
senators of the world, politics still holds
the mask of public representation - pub-
lic service. But some time between
Beethoven pounding out his first sym-
phony and Laurence Olivier bleaching
his hair to embody the Bard's favorite
psychopath, the artistic world got the idea
that it's important.
The idea is that art and the artiste are
beyond the censure of ordinary men, toil-
ing in their little mundane world of taxes
and mortgages and salaried jobs - and
maybe they're right. Because art is impor-
tant. And really great art is justification
enough for sporadic drug use and a little
adulterous romping every now and then.
But the recent scandal involving the
alleged substance abuse of supermodel
Kate Moss has once again thrown that
scenario into the national spotlight.
Shortly after photos emerged of the pow-
der-snorting glamour girl, H&M dropped
her from its ad campaigns. And because

is a better fit. The visionary behind "Chi-
natown" and "Rosemary's Baby" drew
upon his tormented childhood to craft his
explosively moving "The Pianist." Once
again, the director has returned to promi-
nence, explaining how a tragic and lonely
childhood influenced his rendering of the
new "Oliver Twist."
There's only one problem with the
story of Polanski's fairy-tale rise to vic-
torious, Oscar-winning hero: Namely,
that he wasn't at the ceremony to accept
the Oscar. And that's because he fled to
France after being convicted of raping a
13-year-old girl. Hehasn't returned since.
If conservative morality dictates that
you pick your moral and stand unwaver-
ingly behind it,that all else is secondary
to that moral, then artistic immunity
is the opposite. Immunity contends
that genius is first, and all morals are
incidental. When celebrities go bad, the
conflict is undeniable.
But luckily for average Americans
- the ones with those taxes and those
mortgages and those salaried jobs
- neither theory is actually of much
importance. Why do we allow celebri-
ties to misbehave? It's not that we're
liberal, and it's not that we buy into the
self-inflating importance of the artiste.
It's that we're lazy.
Politicians do our moral compassing
for us; when a congressman screws up,
there's a challenger waiting with a thou-
sand smear ads. But when a star screws
around, there's a legion of sympathetic
fellow celebs who've long since bought
into the grand ideals of artistic immunity.
Besides, entertainment is only entertain-
ing and art is only escape. Laypeople
won't stand up for morals in their movie
stars, and if Kate Moss had a political
opponent trying to tear her down, they
might not stand for her either.
-And-ade hopes she gets artistic
immunityfor this column.E-mail
her at aandrade@umich.edu.

TREVOR CAMPBELL/Daily
System of a Down's singer, Serj Tankian, belts out a tune during the band's performance with The Mars Volta at Joe Louis Arena
in Detroit last Thursday night.
SYSTEM ROMCEE N KS AjGPOE RLoEuis
ARMENIAN METAL BAND BRINGS AGITPROP ROCK TO DETROIT

By Ariel Sundel
For the Daily
On Tuesday, four Armenian Americans
organized a rally outside of the Chicago office
of Speaker of the House
Dennis Hastert to con- System of
vince him to pass leg- a Down
islation that officially
recognizes the Arme- Thursday, Sept. 29
nian genocide in Turkey AtJoe Louis Arena
between 1915 and 1923
(www.systemofadownon line.con).
Two days later, these same men played a 30-
song set at Detroit's Joe Louis Arena.
These political activists/rock stars -
vocalist Serj Tankian, guitarist Daron Mal-
akian, bassist Shavo Odadjian and drummer
John Dolmayan - formed the hard rock
band System of a Down in 1993 for the
music. Their music is innovative alterna-
tive rock, that features unorthodox vocal
melodies and harmonies combined with a
metal/hard rock sound. Through this origi-
nal combination of styles, the group's shared
Armenian heritage and their political views
inevitably shine through.
System of a Down's lyrics are overtly
political. As they ponder in their recent hit,

"B.Y.O.B.," which opened Thursday night's
set, "Why don't presidents fight the war? /
Why do they always send the poor?" However,
in their 90-minute set, not once did the band
preach rhetoric to the crowd, or assume the
political beliefs of anyone in the arena. None
of their stage banter involved politics. Their
political ideas are embedded in the lyrics, and
they kept it that way.
System also integrates humor in their songs.
One highlight of Thursday's show was the
intro to "Cigaro" from the latest album, Mes-'
merize. The song beings with Tankian sing-
ing slowly and melodically, "My cock is much
bigger than yours / My cock can walk right
through the door / With a feeling so pure."
The stage was tastefully minimalist in char-
acter, with three rugs in the front, underneath
Tankian, Malakian and Odadjian, giving them
plenty of room to dance. Tankian showed off
some traditional Armenian moves in between
verses. He and Malakian shared the spotlight,
alternating singing and playing guitar and
keyboard. They kept the stagehands busy by
playing several songs throughout their set that
required keyboards and different guitars for
both of them, showing their dedication to try
new ways of'expressing themselves musically.
Although Odadjian was never in the spot-
light, he interacted the mo6 with the audi-
ence. He rted to different sectigg of theK

very large crowd, mainly the seated section
near his part of the stage, with gestures, mak-
ing the concert more personal for the fans. He
danced around the stage and even climbed on
the speakers and drum set. After his bass solo
in one song, he collapsed on the stage and con-
tinued playing on the ground.
Moshing audience members periodical-
ly formed circle pits in the "pit area" on the
arena's main floor, and everyone spawned
the devil horns with their fingers through-
out the show.
In contrast to opening band The Mars
Volta's four-song, hour-long set, System
zoomed through 30 songs during their 90-
minute set, covering material from all four
albums. They stopped only once to check
on the pit. They also played the title track of
their forthcoming album, Hypnotize, which
will be released on Nov. 22. The prominent
drums on this song stand out, and the melo-
dy has a Middle Eastern influence. It is not
as heavy as many of their songs, but the fans
moshed along with it anyway.
Every song was tight, and each band mem-
ber exhibited excellent musicianship. They
played the complicated rhythm changes
seemingly effortlessly and stayed together
while doing so. System's liye show is their
ultimate form of expression, and their per-
formance wassolid.

Whedod's 'Serenity'
hits the silver screen

Sax legend Rollins
wows crowd at Hill

By Jessica Koch
Daily Arts Writer

By David R. Eicke
For the Daily
As weird as it is to see the nice-guy,
pushover boyfriend from "Two Guys
a Girl and a Pizza
Place" (Nathan Serenity
Fillion) kill a guy, At the Showcase
"Serenity," Joss and Quality 16
Whedon's full-
length extension of Universal
his failed TV series
"Firefly," manages to succeed as a
reasonably enjoyable flash bomb of
an old-school space adventure.
The title refers to an old airship
manned by a crew of roguish ex-sol-
diers from a relatively recent inter-
planetary war. -laving lost that war,
its crew (led by Fillion) now lives as a
band of criminals. Unknowingly, they
take in an innocent-looking adolescent
girl who turns out to be some sort of
naturally born seer with an unparal-
leled aptitude for hand-to-hand com-
bat - one that wouldn't be so bad if

she were not being pursued by pow-
erful and unyieldingly brutal govern- ,
ment agents.
Writer/director Whedon (TV's
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer") wastes
little time getting started. After a
background briefing (albeit a stream-
lined one), the film immediately
wrenches itself into full throttle and
never eases off. Unfortunately, this
creates a strange new monotony, one
in which there are so many flailing
swords and explosions that an audi-
ence builds up a kind of tolerance for
them. After about an hour, guys eating
other guys alive just doesn't garner
the same emotional poignancy that it
might have had the action been broken
up a little more.
This problem may arise from the
influence of television via the origi-
nal series, in which episodes are usu-
ally only an hour long. In that case,
the audience doesn't have time to go
numb, but here, the longer format
leads to chronic over-stimulation.
The TV influence also shows through
in the editing and in the set design;

"To boldly go where no space drama has ever gone bef ... wait."

ENEA S REuw
Hill Auditorium was filled Saturday
evening as the University Musical Soci-
ety opened its 12th
Annual Jazz Series Sonny Rollins
with An Evening Hill Auditorium
with Sonny Rollins.
The performance was presented by the
National Endowment for the Arts.
The diversity of Saturday's audience
demonstrated the appeal and scope of
Mr. Rollins's work. When the 75-year-
old legend entered, the crowd stood,
filling Hill auditorium with enthusiastic
applause. Rollins sauntered onstage after
his bandmates and though his back was
bent low, his tenor sax was still firmly
strapped about his neck.
Theodore Walter "Sonny" Rollins was
born on Sept. 7, 1930. He began playing
piano at age 9 and alto sax at 14 before set-
tling on tenor. Before he was 20, Rollins
had already performed with jazz greats
like Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis.
Rollins's career took off in the 1950s with

music comes in at unusual moments,
and some of the ship's control panels
are comically artificial.
The ship also seems a little too
familiar: An old crusier carrying
a crew of rebels and one fearsome,
prophetic fighter? I guess they've
never even heard of the Nebuchad-
nezzar.
The huge redeeming quality of the
film, though, is its intelligent dialogue.
When the stars do put down their
blasters for a moment, they usually

have something meaningful to say -
without resorting to the over-the-top
magniloquence found in, say, "The
Matrix" trilogy. "Buffy" fans will
be pleased to find that the same lyri-
cal aptitude present in Whedon's TV
shows is also present in this movie.
A thinly veiled series finale seems
a little bit of a scant premise for a fea-
ture film, but "'Firefly" and "Buffy"
followers will no doubt go home with
satisfied grins and a little under-arm
moisture.

albums like Tenor Madness, a collabora-
tion between Rollins and John Coltrane
and Saxophone Colossus, an album so
influential to jazz that it earned Rollins
the epithet "Colossus."
Rollins opened the show with a cap-
tivating uptempo tune, energizing the
audience with his wide and vibrant
range. Rollins's nephew, Clifton Ander-
son, played an animated solo with
remarkable lucidity. Drummer Al Fos-
ter rapped, tapped and rolled through
a pulsating solo of rhythmic patterns,
never missing a beat.
Next was Billy Eckstein's "I Wanna
Talk About You," a smooth, warm bal-
lad featuring a solo by guitarist Bobby
Broom. Rollins reentered toward the end
of the tune with a peculiar form of "trad-
ing fours" (trading four measures back
and forth) with the drums. While Rollins
played in brief melodious whispers, Foster
played intensely and quietly. Rollins gave
a roaring, glorious finish, asserting his
rightful title as the Saxophone Colossus.
Rollins's set also included a light, play-
ful song with a Latin groove. Rollins'
demonstrated his ability to make a solo
humorous and fun by quoting children's
rhymes. His exceptionally wide range
on the sax was prevalent as he alternated
between low and high registers.
After a standing ovation, Rollins and
his group played two encore tunes. One
had a similar feel to an earlier calypso
piece. The chart's high energy and rhythm
had the audience swaying in its seats. In a
grand cadenza at the end of the last encore,
Rollins included a melody from the Christ-
mas carol "Up on the Housetop."
The presence of a jazz deity like Sonny
Rollins is bittersweet; it calls to mind
those who have come before him: Col-
trane, Monk and others. Jazz permeates
an emotional barrier that much of today's
overproduced pop music just can't reach.
As the connections to this golden era fade
away, jazz should not be looked upon as
retro. The soulful values found on vinyl
should be maintained.

r '1

r

To the twenty '31 E scholars who will be
wearing this pin on campus this year.

Students

Fly Cheaper

Michael Bohn
Brandon Eagon
Brendon Fike
Douglass Fynan
Connor Henley
Andrew Laskowski
Alisyn Malek
David Masselink
Matthew McKeown
Kristen Neubauer

Loc Thang
Jeremy Tolbert
Justin Valley
Bethanie Yaklin
Adam Barnett *
Griffin Dixon *
Casey Griswold
Collin Hayward *
Christopher Mark *
Brianna Satinoff *

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