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March 13, 2012 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-03-13

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 5

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Critical opinions should
come from dialogue

Classic Americana at its sexiest.
Boss is on the Ball

Bruce Springsteen
rocks hard on
newest release
By GEOFF MARINO
Daily Arts Writer
On NBC's "Late Night" last
Friday, Jimmy Fallon culminated
his week-long tribute to Bruce
Springsteen by
bringing the **
man himself
to the show. At Bruce
the very end of .
the interview, S s
Fallon couldn't Wrecking Ball
help but bring
up a popular Columbia
Bruce legend,
asking like the most eager of E
Street Band fanboys, "You rock
so hard, you actually broke a sta-
dium once, is this true?" Bruce
responded affirmatively, modest-
ly acknowledging that the venue
was never used again, and Fallon
couldn't help but squeal, "You
broke a stadium with rock and
roll ... only Bruce Springsteen and
the E Street Band could do that!"
Besides. unabashedly embrac-
ing his inner fanboy, Fallon, per-
haps unintentionally, unified the
end of the interview with the

theme of Bruce Springsteen's new
album, Wrecking Ball. Indicated
by its title, the album has a lot to
do with destruction. Springsteen
directly confronts the sociopo-
litical collapse that has coincided
with America's Great Recession,
urging his fellow citizens to not
be segmented and destroyed by
the demolition occurring around
them.
Springsteen puts himself in the
shoes of America's working class,
opposing the fat-cat bankers who
have initiated so much destruc-
tion in the economy. In "Jack of
All Trades," he acknowledges
one of the most vicious social
trends of the recession, "Banker
man grows fatter / Working man
grows thin." He invokes an age-
old American working-class sus-
picion of bankers, who seem as
injurious and callous as the face-
less machinery that easily knocks
down the products of hard work
- the wrecking ball.
Despite obviously drawing
lines and creating oppositions,
Springsteen's rhetoric predict-
ably hopes for unity. Tinged with
influences from his Catholic
background, he calls on the sym-
bol of Jesus to promote universal
care amidall the suffering. Again,
in "Jack of All Trades," he is opti-
mistic that the divisive culture

can be overcome, "When the blue
sky breaks / Feels like the world's
gonna change /We'll start caring
for each other like Jesus said that
we might."
As far as the music goes, it
doesn't seem to be bogged down
by the struggle embodied by the
lyrics. Springsteen's sound never
seems to let us get too low: It's
always uplifting. "Death to My
Hometown" is a gleeful sort of
Irish jig powered by Max Wein-
berg's bombastic drumming.
Exultant voices balance Bruce's
combative lyrics and condemna-
tions of robber barons.
The kind of political optimism
the album harbors could easily
fall flat on America's tired ears.
It's likely that people are sick of
that sort of rhetoric in the context
of today's political climate.
Yet, there's only one Bruce
Springsteen. His authenticity has
been cultivated ever since emerg-
ing on the music scene as an out-
sider - the pure embodiment of
rock 'n' roll. In present day, there
are few artists who command the
same sort of respect as the Irish-
Italian Catholic, blue-collar rock
'n' roller from New Jersey. So, if
anyone is allowed to barrage us
with such political platitudes and
cliches about the American soul,
it is The Boss.

In a recent YouTube pro-
motional video for his
new cable TV reality show
"Comic Book Men," Kevin Smith
railed against film critics: "You
guys have
been telling
me for years
that I suck at
my job and
I'm irrel-
evant. Guess
what, you
are. Nobody JACOB
gives a fuck AXELRAD
about crit-
ics anymore.
Nobody cares about what you
have to say."
He may be right.
Film criticism, and any criti-
cism for that matter, is neces-
sarily secondary to the work of
art in question - be it movie, TV
episode, album or a three-minute
video of Will Ferrell deliberating
over his apartment's rent with
Pearl, the baby-landlord.
That's an old argument for
criticism's lack of cultural rel-
evance: Why waste time reading
reviews when Ican go see the
movie for myself?
But there's another reason
why it's becoming increasingly
difficult for critics to hold sway
over audiences the way they once
did. In the words of Andy Sam-
berg, "everyone's a critic."
Like many viewers, I use Rot-
tenTomatoes.com. Of course,
I examine the Tomatometer
before making the trek down to
Quality 16, Rave, the Michigan
or the State theaters. But I also
check the audience tab: Hmm,
the critics gave the Navy SEAL
film "Act of Valor" a measly 29
percent. But then it's kind of like
hold on, wait a minute, the audi-
ence gave the very same movie
an 84 percent.
So from whom do IStake my
advice? DoI listen to Peter Trav-
ers when he calls "Act of Valor"
"an awkward something else"
and "impure Hollywood fiction?"
Apparently, Richard Roeper feels

that "th
charact
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taking

ze SEALS as dramatic sider what they have to say. It's
ers are under-developed." a step in the right direction - a
ectly below Roeper's sense of balanced conversation
I can check out the com- between critic and reader.
Carlos and George and The immature part of me
1 disagree with Richard, wants to say we're done. Fin-
s what he becomes - a ished. Film critics and film
me, just like everyone theory serve no purpose when
is status as legendary we the viewers can take reviews
tic falls by the wayside as into our own hands, informing
d count of his review is each other of how the movie
d by the print amassed by "really was" and giving word
re 11 comments, some of of moutha whole new level of
even agree with Richard. importance. Except if I did stop
here, then that's exactly what it
would be - immature. I cannot
)m Roeper to finish this column without own-
ing up to the fact that quality
criticism can be beautiful and
) e prosaic, and necessarilyseparate
e people are from the work of art from which
it stems. The film critic can cut
aking over. through the noise and confusion
that is the crowd exiting a movie
late at night.
As opposed toa thousand talk-
ie part of me wants to ing heads screaming about what
he white flag and throw they thought the flaws were with
owel for all critics "J. Edgar" (whew, way too many
'here (I mean, can't they to count), a critic can take the
y've lost?), I'm quickly lead. The critic publishes their
led of that quote from our thoughts and we respond. It's not
en Michigan alum, Arthur that they're better than anyone
when he said, "A good else (though admittedly, some
aper is a nation talking to critics will have a sharper eye
How prophetic his words for detail than others), but it's
out to be. Take one look because they doit on something
Huffington Post and the of a regular basis. And the repeti-
ce is right there, staring tion is comforting. Mr. Roeper
the face: the comments, may be your critic of choice, or it
ks to Twitter, Facebook, may be that guy in your Anthro
d and iPhone. It's "social 101 discussion who happens
Though Miller was likely to know a frightening amount
about straight news, he about Japanese Anime and main-
ust as easily have been tains a weekly blog on the matter.
about reviews as well. Whoever it is, critics begin
ead of critics of the past the dialogue because they get
voicing their beliefs in there first. But the fun part is
nowing full well that what comes next - discussion
s could only fume as they between viewers and fans, like
eed, incapable of respond- the chatter after a movie on the
tics of today must engage wayto finding the cart It's this
rtial dialogue of sorts. chatter that's sustained on the
ff to Richard Roeper on web.

count. He responds to
s' comments on his site,
d Roeper & The Movies,
the time to carefully con-

Art of making a comeback

Axelrad is commenting
on all the film blogs. To reply,
e-mail axelrad@umich.edu.

By CHLOE STACHOWIAK
Daily Music Editor
I'll never forget the look on my
housemate's face when I played
him the first track from the new
Korn album - a pathetic blend of
shock, wonder and extreme hor-
ror. But, considering our music
choice of the evening, who could
blame the guy? What erupted
from my computer's speakers
wasn't normal music: It was a
clunky blend of deafening noises
- bleating vocals, frenzied nu-
metal static and a corny dubstep
bassline in the background. (Korn
is now a dubstep band - surprise!)
But it wasn't even the music
itself (no matter how offen-
sive) that twisted his features
so violently: The real rub was
that Korn was releasing another
album, just when we thought
it took its "freak on a leash" act
and faded away from musical
relevance forever. After all, the
members had already granted us
the golden gift of 10 forgettable
LPs, one of which was a special
"unplugged" addition that fea-
tured acoustic guitars and nasal-
ly vocals. Why couldn't they just
let it go? How did they convince
artists like Skrillex to indulge
their confusing dubstep route?
And who thought this would be a
good idea?
Korn hasn't been the only band
that refused to be smudged from
existence, though. There have
been hordes of other musicians
that, despite rapidly diminishing
relevance, seemed like they would
never go away.
Take R.E.M. before their split
in 2011. The band was respectable
enough for a decade (or three) -
in fact, I remember listening to
"It's the End of the World As We
Know It (And I Feel Fine)" on my
toy tape recorder nonstop at the
age of four. But times changed;
people moved on. And yet, even
after releasing nothing but live
albums and mild disappoint-
ments for 10 years, R.E.M. put
out yet another LP last summer.

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was nothing special about witnessed countless stars sink
meback, nothing to make from their glimmering places of
want to listen to the band's fame only to rise once again.
sic any more than its over- Enrique Iglesias, for instance,
hits, which still pop up on makes himself seem important
tive-rock stations. While by piggybacking on things that
was nothing intrinsically already are: His four-year hia-
with the band or its sound, tus from album releases ended
unt of new material could smoothly in 2007 when he re-
the truth: R.E.M. didn't introduced himself to the public
anymore. with Imsomniac and appearances
king of washed-up bands on shows like "America's Next
arasitic grips, how many Top Model" and "Two and a Half
will the Hanson brothers Men." He even teamed up with
einvent themselves before the "Jersey Shore" crew in 2010
ll it quits? The baby-faced for his "I Like It" video because
spite nearing their thirties) - like it or not - little mattered
eased five entire albums more two years ago than our
heir "MMMBop" days of orange-facedfriends.Wellplayed,
ne of which even came Iglesias.
second volume. But none Then there's Christina Agu-
over-eager efforts caught ilera,who has made more than one
despite changing up their splash after long periods without.
s (is that a side-part, Tay- Her method? The art of self-rein-
d makinga seriously weird vention. From the darkly scandal-
video with synchronized ous "Dirrty" kick in 2002 to her
noves and alot of clapping, more recent old Hollywood glam-
uportance has persistently our spiel, Aguilera's leaps back
ed away. into stardom have been fueled
by creating new images for her-
self that catch public and - more
Hanson and importantly - tabloid attention.
We are drawn to the entertainer
Dther has- and her new, ever-developing
viewpoints, even when she goes
ins: juSt Stop. five or so years without actually
entertaining.
Please. It's not that these musicians
have defied any special laws of
success, but that they simply
played their cards right: They've
with their laughable made their re-emergences into
t born-again fame (seri- pop culture fresh and exciting,
have you seen that music sparking mass interest instead of
, Hanson refuses to disap- boredom or confusion. We want
he group is currently tour- to hear more from Aguilera and
state of Oklahoma and is Iglesias because, unlike R.E.M's
tsting its own Hanson Day slew of one-note albums or Korn's
lion performance on May awkward dubstep phase, their
don't get your hopes up, presence in the music world still
e it's for fan-club members makes sense.
Making a comeback is an art
eone should have barred form, and musicians should either
uys from entering the new take notes from success stories or,
iium. in the case of Hanson, quit while
not every musical come- they're ahead. Because, let's face
aps listeners as an unwant- it, not even Skrillex can make me
h-from-the-past - we've listen to Korn again.

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iit~rdo re
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Professor of Chemistry
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Alumni Center Founders Room
4:10pm LSA

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