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March 27, 2007 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-03-27

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, March 27, 2007 - 5

Turning high

Red, white

culture to kitsch and Wahlberg

he concept of "high cul- products, opening the floodgates
ture" has existed for cen- to consumer markets that no one
turies, from the Greeks could have guessed even existed.
to the Renaissance, through And since we do live in that won-
the 1800s and into the present. derful "Land of the Free," where
Though the debate still runs all men are created equal, if you
high between knowledgeable couldn't afford the best, someone
aesthetes and the esoteric intel- was always willing to provide the
ligentsia, can it really be argued next best thing. The chain reac-
that high culture tion meant high art
continues to reign was systematically
supreme in the con- reduced to shit - at
temporary world? least, that was the
Unlike highbrow initial reaction. But
elitists who claim now that the western
it's been destroyed world has been irre-
by the rise of mass versibly inundated
consumerism and with products that
the Industrial Age, CAROLINE span the spectrum
I claim a more from sparkling gold
open-minded HARTMANN to tinny aluminum,
vision. Why is it so is it fair to continue
painfully wrench- rejecting what was
ing to include paint-by-number originally labeled as atrocious
sets, McDonald's toys and video and degrading attempts to mimic
games in the context of cul- high art?
tural worth? Whether or not you The fact of the matter is, the
agree, this has become an Ameri- troops have spoken and "bad
can reality. art" isn't going anywhere any-
Beginning in the late 1800s, time soon. But let's back up - if
when decorative arts and mass- inferior variants of high art were
production infiltrated American simply meant to feed the lower
society, traditionalists held firm class, why has kitsch and shabby
in their tastes, dismissing the chic become so popular among
life-altering shift the western the rich? This is where the story
world was about to undergo. But gets interesting. According to
as capitalism took root and post- Martin J. Smith and Patrick J.
war America in the 20th century Kiger, pop-culture enthusiasts
gave birth to a more affluent mid -______
dle class, the scene was destined
for change. Unfortunately, adher- Has paint-by-the-
ents to the "high-culture" theory
became even more grounded in numbers become
their ways as the avant-garde
gained momentum and cultural high art?
authority. Suddenly, art and cul-
ture were available to the masses
and their precious hold on that
top sliver of the population loos- and authors of the book "poplo-
ened considerably. And now, well rica," "bad art filled a valuable
into the Information Age, we've function for hipsters, because it
made the leap not only into mass enabled them to demonstrate a
movements but into a state of sense of irony." Maybe I missed
over-stimulation as well. something, but I'm pretty sure
In the early 1970s, Theodor lawn gnomes and docile house-
Adorno and Max Horkheimer wife images circa 1950 have lost
attempted to tackle the hiccups their biting-yet-humorous under-
at the heart of capitalism, and tones since the upper class got a
the detrimental effects on merit- hold of them.
based culture. They argued in What we're left with is an
their famous 1972 article "The odd assortment of the best and
Culture Industry: Enlighten- the worst, and the worst becom-
ment as Mass Deception" that ing the best - where else in
capitalism inherently creates a the world can you find a pair
false perception of need, which of beat-to-hell jeans, covered
in turns persuades someone to with glitter beads outlining a
become an active consumer. Nietzsche quote spray painted
Apparently, we've become so on in fluorescent pink, going for
desensitized to the web of infor- the same price as a piece from
mation surrounding us that sub- Prada's latest collection? "High
stance is hardly relevant - and art" may not have disappeared
neither is free will. from our vocabulary yet, but you
Pessimistic, sure, but it makes can be sure the concept is dead
a little sense, right? But where on today's market.
Adorno and Horkheimer fail is The "Mona Lisa" has found its
in neglecting to recognize the way to fridge magnets and foun-
active minds that constitute the tain pens, while Marchel Duch-
population they're belittling. amp and Andy Warhol are raised
Come on, give yourself a little high on heavily endowed muse-
credit - maybe we don't fully um pedestals. America's cultural
absorb every sound byte and flip flop will continue to compli-
megapixel thrown our way, but cate the already muddled percep-
don't you trust yourself enough tion of culture, and even though
to decipher what's meaningful it's doubtful the few high-culture
and what's just plain garbage? disciples left will disappear com-
Where one's taste was once pletely, I guarantee they'll face
judged by interest in or appre- nothing but an uphill battle.
ciation of high art, now one is
judged based on tangible assets - Hartmann has a Thomas
- consumer goods. Kinkade calendar and French
More money floating around in cigarette ads on her sheets. She can
corporate America meant more be reached at carolinh@umich.edu.
Crackhead leprechaun?
michigandaily.com/thefilter.
Enjoy the Summer-.
& Earn Up to 10
Credts

INFO. SESSION: March 28, 4 p.m. Chemistry Bldg.
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By IMRAN SYED away. But after a military opera- ,
Daily Arts Writer tion in Ethiopia went bad, he and
his spotter were abandoned by the
h from outshining Leonardo government in enemy territory. Bob .-
io, Matt Damon and even shot his way through that mess but
Nicholson his friend did not survive, and he's
e Depart- been a disgruntled recluse living in
Academy *** ' the woods of Wyoming ever since.
-nominee Sure enough, one day a black
Wahlberg Shooter truck rolls up carrying Colonel
returned Isaac Johnson (Danny Glover,
us July- anQuaityl6 "Gone Fishin"') and the FBI.
atriotism and Showcase hey've discovered a plot to assas- "damn, that girl is fine."
rch. You Paramount sinate the president; the shot will be
only the taken from a distance only Swagger inch rifles with foot
nd slow- can comprehend. They want him notwithstanding. Jus
shot of a gruff Wahlberg to help unravel the plot by telling war films have alwa
ades striding audaciously them what to look for and what war films, "Shooter
a gigantic U.S. flag to know areas to guard. branch well beyond1
hooter" will find significant Reluctantly Swagger agrees - ing action; it finds the
ppeal. We may often be dis- and learns only with a bullet in his patriotism by decryinE
by the brainless, violent, shoulder that the assassination plot officials who exploit it
umbing action that audi- was engineered by Johnson him- The biggest enemi'
lock to ("300"), but there are self. Gravely injured and framed by are brutal military g
h worries here. This is one rogue elements within the military rupt politicians and
hooter. and the FBI, Swagger staggers into FBI. The heroes ar
once, Wahlberg pokes fun at the darkness,vowingto return soon leave the corrupte
ical swagger - with a name and make sure justice is served. and risk everything to
b Lee Swagger, how could Though seemingly the love child right. The film uses-
mer U.S. Marine sniper not of red-state uber-patriotism (where able capital it has a:
elf-conscious jab? Swagger the Second Amendment comes first Americans (thanks to
ally the world's best marks- and the southern wall is already southern accents and
guy who can splatter a soup being built), "Shooter" actually wood's current man's-
on a hill more than a mile has no love for that mindset - 60- take subtle shots at th

t-long bullets
t like the best
ys been anti-
's" triumphs
heart-pound-
true spirit of
g government
it.
es in the film
enerals, cor-
a complicit
e those who
establishment
make things
the consider-
mong middle
lots of flags,
one of Holly-
-man stars) to
hose who will

have you believe that loving your
country is loving its every mistake.
Departingconsiderablyfromthe
main narrative, itcomments specif-
ically on the Abu-Ghraib scandal,
the missing WMDs and even Anna
Nicole Smith. Never overreach-
ing but always poignantly present,
these themes lift a passable action
flick into the ranks of a decent com-
mentary on the post-Sept. 11 neo-
con agenda.
But don't let all that jargon
make you think "Shooter" is a
film to watch in a 400-level politi-
cal science class. It's thoroughly
entertaining, with plenty of good-
guy/bad-guy showdowns, and if it
happens to be a little deeper, that's
quite alright with me.

Straight-shooting with the man himself

By SHERI JANKELOVITZ
Daily Arts Writer
Mark Wahlberg has finally
earned the right to no longer be
referred to as "Marky Mark."
Well past his days of rapping
and Calvin Klein underwear mod-
eling, he's a bona fide movie star
with an Academy Award nomi-
nation and a legitimate producer
with a mega-hit show - based
on his own life no less ("Entou-
rage").
He's come a long way. The last
of nine children, Wahlberg spent
his childhood going in and out of
Boston police stations. He said
those experiences actually helped
him prepare for his Oscar-nomi-
nated role in "The Departed."
"I basically lived my whole
childhood developing that char-
acter," Wahlberg said. "I grew up

on the streets and getting into a
lot of trouble. I just had a pretty
tough upbringing, So, you know, I
was glad that ... after causing my
parents all that grief that I was
able to put it to good use."
Wahlberg's experiences off-
screen helped establish his bad-
boy persona on-screen. He's
created a niche for himself in the
action-movie genre and continues
in this tradition with the opening
of his new film "Shooter" - not
that he'll accept just any old action
movie to star in.
"Well, the high-intensity action
movies that they've been mak-
ing lately aren't really the kind
of character-driven ,movies ,that-
I love and that I grew up watch-
ing in the '70s. This is kind of a
throwback to that. It's much more
of a Travis Bickle or a Dirty Harry
than it is a Terminator-type char-

acter," Wahlberg said. Wahlberg claims to have no eye
Despite leaning toward action on specifically winning more dra-
films, Wahlberg likes to mix it up matic laurels.
when it comes' to selecting a new "Well I certainly can't just start
film role. "I want to make movies lookingforEnglish-period dramas
that I would want to go and see and stuff that's going to get me
and that I think people want to see nominated again," he said. "I got
to just continue to make the kind
of movies that I want to see and
There's more to that people want to see me in."
Wahlberg is also toying with
M ark than a nice the idea of complete retirement
from acting at the tender age of
air of Calvins. 40. "I have two small children and
p I'Eve been focused on me for a long
time and at some point, obviously,
my attention is going to have to
me in," Wahlberg said. He even shift to them. But hopefully I'll
revealed that David 0. Russell, be in a position where I can still
the director and writer of "Three make a movie every year or two."
Kings," is developing a broad com- Let's hope Wahlberg isn't going
edy specifically tailored to him. anywhere. The world needs its
The Academy Award nomina- tough guys -notto mention inspi-
tion hasn't gone to his head, either. rations to underwear models.

.................

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To learn more about great professional
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graduates, be sure to attend the
CAREER OPTIONS
FOR MICHIGAN PHARMD
GRADUATES
Wednesday, March 28, 2007; 6-8 p.m.
Room 1544, C.C. Little Building
(On North University between Church and
Fletcher Streets, across from the
Exhibit Museum of Natural History)
Format:
" Current students discuss their choice of
pharmacy and their experiences in one of
America's best pharmacy schools.
Michigan College of Pharmacy alumni,
representing a variety of practice paths, discuss
their work and the diversity of rewarding career
paths open to U-M College of Pharmacy
graduates.
Pizza and soda will be served.
For more information, contact:
Assistant Dean Valener L. Perry
Telephone: 734-764-5550
-mail: vlperry@umich.edu
Also be sure to visit the College of Pharmacy
Web site at: www.umich.edu/~pharmacy.
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