Music

A Super Bowl for the People

Led by Madonna’s halftime act, this year’s telecast included something for everyone.

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Somehow Madonna pulled off an amazing feat during the Super Bowl: bringing gay culture and aggressive female sexuality into the heart of masculinity’s holiest of days without anyone seeming to care. While the cheerleading segment was embarrassingly silly, I otherwise have to disagree with Tom Carson’s assessment that the Super Bowl’s narrative was Clint Eastwood versus Madonna, with Clint winning. I’m more in the camp of Tom’s friend who said, “It was Clint AND Madonna.” Madonna was hauled onto the field by an army of half-naked men in gladiator costumes and then sang “Vogue,” a song about a dance style invented and nourished in gay nightclubs. Madonna even rolled out “Like A Prayer”, a number that used to bait conservatives with its provocative blend of sexual and religious themes. Yet, the only offended response from the guardians of moral purity the Monday after the show was half-hearted complaining that hip-hop performer M.I.A., who joined Madonna and rapper Nicky Minaj onstage,...

I Fought PBS and PBS Won

Downton Abbey gives the network a bona fide guilty pleasure.

AP Photo/Chris Pizzello
Maybe I should have heeded Joe Strummer's obscene warning back in 1980. "He who fucks nuns/Will later join the church," the Clash's front man sang biliously on London Calling— and here I am 32 years later, watching Downton Abbey. I guess Joe had my number all along. No doubt, this betrayal of my Jacobin youth won't seem excessively poignant to too many of you. That's not least because you're probably hooked on Downton Abbey yourself, but indulge me. When I was starting out as a TV reviewer—lured, like so many bright-eyed naifs, by the promise of groupies, big bucks, and high living— Village Voice readers soon got used to my heartlessness about PBS: "Off with those three little heads!" I once merrily wrote. More than anything else, public broadcasting's wan mania for importing high-toned Brit taradiddle got my goat, a prejudice dating back to my restless puberty. The original Forsyte Saga, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Brideshead Revisited —the PBS versions of the Rosetta Stone, in...

99 Problems But This Ain't One

The special treatment Beyoncé received when she gave birth may have made the headlines, but real economic injustice gets noticed far less often.

Judging when to use tabloid stories as teaching moments on issues regarding race, gender, and class isn’t always easy. Sometimes the connection is clear, as when bloggers and activists used the Chris Brown/Rihanna blowup to raise awareness about domestic violence. Other times, a point can’t be found, no matter how hard one may try. The scandal surrounding Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s baby, recently born at at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, is a classic example of this sort of overreach. For those who may not know, soon after Beyoncé gave birth to Blue Ivy Carter, there was a rush of tabloid and then mainstream-media stories quoting parents who were furious about the security measures the hospital took, which included clearing out the wing the couple stayed in, covering cameras, and dispatching guards for their protection. The parents’ complaints—which were given wide airing at sites like Jezebel and The Huffington Post —mostly centered around the attention the celebrity couple received...

Yes We Camelot

What cultural artifacts will come to embody the current presidential administration?

F eel free to try this at home, but I guarantee you won't get anything out of it except a migraine. Imagine you've been a bit prematurely asked to fill a time capsule with telltale cultural artifacts of the Age of Obama—the evocative movies, TV shows, hit tunes, and other creative whatnots that will someday exemplify the ineffable atmosphere of our 44th president's first term. Realizing nobody has called these times "The Age of Obama" since early 2009 should be your first clue that this is no easy job. Try to persevere, though. Um—J.J. Abrams's Star Trek reboot, maybe? Obama's partisans and detractors alike do dig comparing him to Mr. Spock. TV's Glee and Modern Family? Hey, how about post – everything pop diva Lady Gaga? That's the best I can do off the top of my head, and they're all a bit of a stretch. The multiculti on steroids—OK, asteroids—of James Cameron's Avatar may be less of one. Yet the movie's conception predated not only Obama's presidency but George W. Bush's. Anyway,...

Death Rattle

A new musical movement turns Mexican drug violence into catchy sing-alongs.

Movimiento Alterado has taken traditional narcocorridos to a new extreme.
GerardoOrtiz.net Gerardo Ortiz, whose latest CD both celebrates and questions the culture of drug violence I n 2010, the collective of Mexican musicians known as Movimiento Alterado released a rousing carousel blitz of tubas, accordions, and snare rolls it called “Sanguinarios del M1.” The song’s title roughly translates as “The Bloodthirsty Killers of El M1”—M1 is the nickname for Manuel Torres Félix, an infamous member of the Sinaloa drug cartel. (He also goes by El Ondeado , “The Off One” or “The Crazy One.”) His long rap sheet includes a 2008 “message murder” in which he left three decapitated bodies with severed legs in the trunk of a car with a signed note and a decapitated snake. “Sanguinarios” begins with the sound of semiautomatic gunfire, and then a rotating cast of singers role-plays as AK-47- and bazooka-toting M1 mercenaries. “We are crazy bloodthirsty guys,” the singers declare. “We like to kill.” They brag about their kidnapping, beheading, and torture skills and...

Happy Hanukkah to All, and To All A Good Night

It starts at sundown tonight. In honor, here's the Maccabeats' big (and catchy) hit from last year.

In Today's DOMA News...

You may have noticed that litigating Prop. 8* has become a full employment project for lawyers (Not that there's anything wrong with that ...). They're back at it today: The Ninth Circuit is hearing two appeals from the folks who originally put Prop. 8 on the California popular ballot. According to the Courage Campaign's Prop. 8 Trial Tracker , The first hearing, at 2:30 p.m. PST, will regard the appeal of Judge Ware’s decision to release the Prop 8 recordings taken during the initial trial. The second hearing, at 3:30 p.m. PST, regards the appeal of Judge Ware’s ruling to deny the proponents’ motion to dismiss Judge Walker’s decision because he did not disclose that he is in a long-term relationship with a man (shorter: Prop 8 backers said Judge Walker is gay so he is biased so his decision should be dismissed, Judge Ware denied their motion, Prop 8 backers appealed to the 9th Circuit). This is not a hearing about our favorite issue of standing . That will come in yet more hearings...

Department of Overreaction: Fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

Longtime gay community reporter Rex Wockner passes along this story of a Wisconsin teacher who has taken the "gay" out of Deck the Halls. You can't really blame her, what with "gay" being a common grade school slur, and all: The music teacher at Cherry Knoll removed the word "gay" from the song Deck the Halls because the children kept giggling. Instead students were taught to sing "don we now our bright apparel". That's not so gay, now, is it? If you watch the video, the principal has all the right reactions, saying he wished the teacher had used the song as "a teachable moment," building on their anti-bullying policy and support for diversity in sexual orientation, explaining what "gay" used to mean, and reinforcing the idea that "gay" is not a bad word. What do you think: Will this incident join Fox News' "war on Christmas" seasonal parade, in which the homos are joining in with the secular elites to ruin the holiday?

Sing, Memory

Y ou would be forgiven if at some point this past summer you forgot what year it was. The season’s sleeper-film hit, Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, uses Sidney Bechet’s 1952 “Si Tu Vois Ma Mère” as the soundtrack to contemporary Paris while its protagonist time-travels back to the 1920s on the wings of Cole Porter 78s. Beyoncé’s 4, one of the summer’s biggest CDs, revels in the silky ’80s R&B synth and horn arrangements that once made Whitney Houston an MTV fixture. Then there was indie folk favorite Bon Iver, who made early ’90s Bonnie Raitt hip again and whose self-titled second album finishes with a song that starts off sounding like ’80s hit-maker Howard Jones and ends up as the theme song to Beverly Hills, 90210. Yet it was Jay-Z and Kanye West’s Watch the Throne, touted all August (mostly by Jay-Z and Kanye West) as hip-hop’s new bar-setter of “black excellence,” that turned out to be the summer’s most musically backward-looking album. The royal couple don’t just sample...

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