Culture Front & The Cold War

During the Cold War, both sides declared culture would be one of the primary battle fronts. “In many ways Cold War cultural production was ideologically driven to a degree not seen before or since. The era thus offers an especially productive field for examining the relationship between culture and ideology—between art and politics. But there are dangers as well…”

Getting Political, Without Words

As artists, pop stars, and authors leap headlong into the political fray, why can’t composers do the same? Obviously, it’s a bit tricky for artists who work with notes and rhythms alone to make it explicitly clear that their latest symphony is meant as an endorsement of a particular candidate or policy, but some are trying anyway. “Although we rarely hear about it, the new music community is actively challenging convention, as it always has, using a wide range of artistic means to engage in a civic dialogue that stretches well beyond the scope of the upcoming election.”

Where’s The Anger?

Composer Phil Kline, who has penned a song cycle based on Pentagon briefings and anti-war material, worries that composers aren’t angry enough about the state of the world to really make a difference. “I have a feeling that as far as the pain and the anger and the alarm in the music, we probably haven’t heard anything yet, because I think a lot of us are just beginning to wake up.”

Is The FCC’s Decency Crusade A Red Herring?

The raging debate over decency standards and the public airwaves has the FCC in a tizzy, and free-speech advocates up in arms. But are both sides missing the point? “Until now, the government’s censorship powers have been limited to the airwaves, on the grounds that they alone use spectrum. But with politicians left and right in a mad scramble for ‘decency,’ the increasingly flimsy technological rationale that allows the government to intrude on broadcast content is being conveniently forgotten.”

Is Political Correctness Smothering Art?

As the phenomenon known either as “contextualization” or “historical revisionism” (depending on your point of view) continues to remake our view of art, a new book suggests that political correctness has turned much of art history into a collection of palatable lies. In the author’s view, “the history of Western art—art spanning continents and centuries—is being systematically turned on its head and rendered unrecognizable to anyone who approaches such matters from within the boundaries of normal human understanding.” In other words, the intellectuals are just ruining art for all the normal people.

(Re)Discovering Robbins

Six years after his death, Jerome Robbins remains a towering figure in the dance world, and yet, most of what we know of the Robbins legacy is based solely on his work as a dancer and choreographer. Of his private life, relatively little has been written. But two new authorized biographies shed a great deal of light on the man, albeit from very different perspectives.

Meet The New Head DJ, Same As The Old One

Satellite radio is supposed to be the answer for music fans who have been driven away from the FM dial by generic, preprogrammed formats, personality-less disc jockeys, and other components of the broadcasting horror known as Album-Oriented Rock. But it just so happens that the guy at the helm of one of the two satellite broadcasters is the very same individual who sent traditional radio spiralling down the toilet 30 years ago! This time, though, his addiction to audience research and marketing data might just work in the listeners’ favor: after all, satellite radio has the bandwidth to create a station for everyone, making one-size-fits-all radio unnecessary.