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March 29, 2007 - Image 9

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2007-03-29

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ART FROM BEHIND BARS
PRISONER CREATIVE ARTS PROJECT PAGE 6B
B
THE MICHIGAN DAILY
THURSDAY, MARCH.29, 2007

MUSIC COLUMN
Who's a
critic?
Not me.
think music criticism is
pretty much total bullshit. If
enjoying music is a subjective
. experience, who is qualified to say
what's good or bad? I might know
more names or own more records,
but I can't tell you what to enjoy,
only what does
it for me. If you
think Fall Out
Boy isafive-
star band, then
why let some
pretentious,
wannabe-musi-
cian writer piss
on your opin-
ion? That's why LLOYD H.
I'm not a music CARGO
critic.
Writing
about music
can be beautiful, revelatory and
touching, and there's a lot of ways
to go about a record review that
make for an engaging and inform-
ing read. Robert Christgau did
it by being as direct and to the
point as possible, saying more
with 50 words than most could
with 500. Lester Bangs did it by
writing about himself, and occa-
sionally mentioning the music
he was reviewing - but with a
style that ran deeper than your
average first-person wankfest.
There are more, too, but unfortu-
nately it seems the world of music
criticism is (mostly) a bitter, nerdy
boys' club that turns out the same
crap over and over again. There's
even a formula that goes some-
thing like band A sounds like band
B plus band C and are influenced
by hip reference X, Y and Z so that
Band A fits nicely into whatever
-idiculous sub-genre or scene is
the flavor of the week.
Still, it's not like music criti-
cism doesn't serve a certain
purpose, it's just a very narrow
one. At their basest level record
reviews act as a consumer guide.
If a so-called critic can estab-
lish credibility, usually by being
associated with a respected pub-
lication like Pitchfork or Rolling
Stone, his voice becomes a part
of the hype machine that exposes
new artists, canonizes old ones
and shreds anyone who can no
longer be considered cool.
Critics want to think they have
more power than they do, but the
truth is critics don't make their
favorite musicians mega-stars. I
don't think a respected critic on
Earth praised the last Black Eyed
Peas albums, but didn't slow down
sales one bit. The only realm of
the industry that critics have that
much power over is the hipper,
trendier demographic - the indie
world, if you will. If Pitchfork
trashes someone (like the time
they gave Travis Morrison a 0.0)
then that person can say goodbye
to all but their loyalist fans. And
on the other hand, a grade above
9.0 means Wazoo better order 40
more copies.
That system works because
sometimes kids need someone to
tell them what's cool, and with so
much indie-rock totally sucking,

it can be tough to sort through for
the diamonds. That doesn't mean
that critical consensus means you
ought to like something, it just
means that maybe you ought to
check it out and decide for your-
self. After all boys and girls, being
into things just because they're
deemed cool is what makes you a
hipster, and these days who wants
to be labeled that?
Isn't this hypocritical? I've
expressed some pretty strong
opinions about music in the Daily.
See CARGO, page 6B
LIST
March 29 to April 1
The Daily Arts
guide to the
best upcom-
ing events - it's
everywhere you
should be this
week and why.

r
r..

We never hear the end
of it. "Daily Arts hates
everything," it usually
goes, followed
by a broader
condemnation of
critics in general.
Yes, we nitpick, but
we're here because
we're completely in
love with this stuff.
The three writers
below deconstruct
popular critics and
criticism to help
make sense of it and
what it means for you.
EVERYONE'S
A CRITIC
ByKRISTIN MAcDONALD
Associate Arts Editor
W e don't need rooftops to shout from any-
more. The magic of the Internet has pro-
vided us with an ever-growing variety of
ways to cast our rulings on the current
state of pop culture, and I'm surprised we're not all per-
petually dizzy from the sudden power's invigorating
rush.
Everyone's acritic, and movies are undeniably afavorite
subject. When FelliniNut85 and ODoyleRules can go at it
on an IMDb.com message board with the same self-righ-
teous fervor, lofty cultural opinion (ahem - "criticism")
perhaps seems to be slowly stagnating into irrelevance.
Wrong. Amid this new, unfettered wealth of opinion, it's
only more needed than ever.
After all, it is an under-mentioned fact that to be sup-
portive of self-expression is far easier than to be receptive
to it. Any three minute perusal through YouTube's gallery
of fuzzy-pixeled rantings will send you sprinting for the
comfortable gravity of the most ponderous of sweater-
vested academics. Consider the ponytailed YouTuber who
files her official grievance in video clip form under the
promisingtitle of"Movie critics anger me." In whatIhope
is just a spot-on impression of soul-sanding teen angst, she
carps on and on about how somestupid critic was so unbe-
lievably wrong that in "Tristan and Isolde" the war (bor-
ing) was more important than the romance (sigh).
Some decades on from now this chick will realize to
her inevitable chagrin that she forgot to take down her
bedroom's many posters of Orlando Bloom's simpering
goatee before cogsnitting herself to the annals of movie
criticism. "Critics these days justdon'tknow whatthey're
See MACDONALD, page 4B

When I first saw the trailer for "300," I knew
I was in trouble.
I had no idea the same shot of shouting
half-naked men recut from a dozen differ-
ent angles could be so gripping, but the listless grandeur
got me every time. At one particularly vulnerable moment
I even tried to find the metal soundtrack on iTunes. (No
luck, thank God.)
That wasn't the problem. "300" is totally enthrall-
ing as a three-minute clip, but from the first time I saw
that preview, I suspected I would hate the movie. It's not
customarily a good sign when a trailer doesn't see fit to
include dialogue from the movie it's created to advertise,
and I have seen enough digital filmmaking to know that
pretty pictures can only get you so far.
But a trailer this electric was going to make this the
fanboy event of the year. "300" was goingto be huge, and
every time I would try to talk about it, I would get the
same sigh, the same exasperated scold reminding me
that I am a purist toad and that the American moviegoer
had overruled me with his pocketbook.
As you might imagine, then, I met with some reluc-
tance a request from this paper's film editor that I write
a dueling review with him on "300" to contrast with his
hyper-excited response. I agreed, thoughI predicted that
like our fabled Spartans, I was fighting a losing battle.
He went on to call the movie "gorgeously surreal" and
a "visual masterpiece." I was thinking more along the
lines of "exuberantly stupid." This wasn't going to end
well.
See BLOOMER, page 4B

A BRIEF ASSESSMENT OF
ROCK CRITICISM
By MATT KIVEL
Daily Music Editor
ntellectuals have always been skeptical of rock music.
Bill Haley and Gene Vincent's early rock'n'roll singles
epitomized a form that was commercially acces-
sible and simplistic in musical structure. It's purpose
was solely entertainment-based, seemingly unworthy of
lyrical analysis or academic study. Musical elitists held
onto their Bartok and Stravinsky records as symbols of a
refined understanding of classicism and music as a "high-
er" art form. From the late 1950s and well into the 1960s,
the unspoken boundary separating the elite and ignorant
music fan began to disappear, obscured by the integration
of classical forms into pop and popular forms into clas-
sical works. George Martin's use of the string quartet in
"Yesterday" changed rock'n'roll the same way Leonard
Bernstein's score for "Westside Story" influenced classi-
cal composition.
The birth of true rock criticism can be directly linked to
the rise of the full-length album as the preferred medium
of musicalproduction in the mid to late '60s. Dylan's High-
way 61 Revisited, The Beach Boys's Pet Sounds and Leon-
ard Cohen's debut album combined innovative musical
approaches with lyrics that drew more from poetic form
than traditional song structure. Counterculture publica-
See KIVEL, page 4B

Miller finally at home on North Campus

By MICHELE YANKSON
Daily Arts Writer
In 2004, when the idea of the
Walgreen Drama Center was in its
nascence, Arthur Miller, just two
years before his death, reviewed the
designs for the project. The theater
within the center was to be built as
a tribute to Miller, the iconic play-
wright, award-winning writer and
perhaps the most-celebrated Univer-
sity alum.
This plan will be realized tonight
as the Arthur Miller Theater has
its grand opening with "Playing for
Time," Miller's dramatic adapta-
tion of a biographical account of the

Holocaust. Although the play's sub-
ject is somber, the theater's open-
ing will be an indelible celebration
of theater, community and of Miller
himself.
Former School of Music Dean
Karen Wolff, who accompanied
Miller as he reviewed the design,
said Miller was pleased with the
prospects.
"(In dealing with the School of
Music, Theater, & Dance) it was
always the students he had in mind,"
Wolff said. "(The theater) will con-
tinue to inspire countless students as
they learn and practice their skills,
similar to Miller's experiences at the
University as he honed his ability as

a young playwright. "
Central to Miller's insistence on
inspiring and aiding students was
his request for flexibility of space.
He envisioned the creation of a space
that was not only ideal for present-
ing a play but for transforming the
actors' scope within that space,
Wolff said.
With a staggering donation from
pharmacy tycoon and alum Charles
Walgreen, Jr. and the vision of
Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blum-
berg Architects, Miller's ideas for the
theater became reality. The theater
displays certain aspects of modern
See MILLER, page 5B

"Playing for Time" will open tonight at the new Arthur Miller Theatre.

AT EAST HALL
The Southeast Asian Cultural Night
returns to the East Hall atrium and
auditorium Saturday evening from 5
p.m. to 10 p.m. for a night of traditional
cultural performances and unbeliev-
ably delicious Southeast Asian food.
There will be mini-exhibitions on
Singaporean, Indonesian, Malaysian,
Thai, Vietnamese and Cambodian cul-
ture. Admission is free, so is the food.
What more could a hungry co-ed ask
for?

ON STAGE
The University's only student-run
and student-directed orchestra, the
Michigan Pops Orchestra, will play
popular selections from a variety of
movies and musicals Sunday night
at 7 p.m. for its Pops in Paris! perfor-
mance. The show will include a cho-
rus, vocal and instrumental soloists,
lighting effects and selections from
Gershwin as well as Disney. What
more could you ask for from an April
Fool's day concert?

AT LUNCH
When was the last time you dined
with amajorPolishsocialactivistand
writer? If you overslept last Friday
and missed Lunch With Honors with
New Yorker magazine cartoon edi-
tor Bob Mankoff, be sure you make
it tomorrow at noon to talk with
Krzysztof Czyzewski. The founder of
the Borderlands Foundation of Arts,
Cultures and Nations in Sejny (near
the Polish-Lithuanian border) will
also be lecturing later at 7 p.m.

AT THE MIC
Coinciding with the sold-out per-
formances of Arthur Miller's "Play-
ing For Time" this weekend is the
Global Miller Symposium, orga-
nized by the University's resident
Miller and Samuel Beckett expert,
Prof. Enoch Brater. Brater's lecture
"Drama Matteres: Suitcases, Sand
and Dry Goods" tonight is free at the
UM Alumni Center, and the rest of
the lectures this weekend are free at
the Rackham Ampitheatre.

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