Thursday, October 25, 2007

Signs of the Apocalypse Miami Style: Dumbing Down Culture to pay the rent

Regarding the direction Carnival Center will take in the future for programming:

"We'll let the audience decide."
--J. Ricky Arriola,
Chairman of the Center's trustee board

Miami Today held a Roundtable discussion on October 3rd at the Gusman between county cultural bureaucrats and the heads of our local cultural institutions. It's fascinating and we highly recommend you find the issue and read it (unfortunately, the weekly has not posted it on its website).

The cultural enablers and the culture makers like Miami City Ballet honcho Edward Villella were trying mightily to come to some sort of consensus on what constitutes culture here. And, like all discussions in this era of political correctness where every culture is given equal value, it became clear that the canons of white western culture-- ballet, opera, symphonies-- would have to fight for their piece of the limited local dollars set aside for the arts, something Mr. Villella had a problem with.

"I've come across ethnic leaders and I've said to them, 'Why are you bringing only that particular ethnic culture to that ethnic culture?'" he says. "What we need to do is to open minds beyond that and, forgive me, rap...drives me nuts. Hip-hop is not as qualitative as other types of dance in terms of guiding the minds of younger people."

Hear! Hear! Mr. Villella. We consider it the music of a bankrupt culture obsessed with the baser aspects of life.
Unfortunately, this is the dominant culture here.
So what's a guy like Villella to do when the chair of the Carnival Center board-- who didn't attend the Roundtable but made it a point to remind Villella in a separate interview that "not everybody likes the ballet"-- thinks the fix in making the half-billion-dollar buildings profitable is to turn to the people for programming ideas?

Get to love the "butterfly," Eddie. I'm sure a creative guy like you can make a ballerina work her pelvis just as well as any of the chongas on the street. In fact, may we suggest you consider choreographing a new ballet and calling it: Ballet Booty Call. Ballerinas shaking their tutus like swans in heat toward posturing ballet bad boys with their bulging cups and Spandex leotards ought to fill all the seats and more. Try combining rap rhythms with a symphonic score while lifting the theme out of the gutter where most rap resides and you just might save western culture as we know it. Of course, it may look a little different than what most educated people are use to seeing, but then the arts are always evolving and the best artists are showing us how to see the world differently. Work with the masses, baby. Strive to be dance's Picasso.

Good or bad, Miami's culture is the prototype of the world's cultural future where rap has not only taken a foothold, but is flourishing. Just check with Vince McMahon first to make sure he can fit Ballet Booty Call into the WWE Smackdown schedule at Carnival.
UpDate (2/15/09): It appears Japan has the answer to propping up our cultural institutions. According to Parade magazine, it "checks the waistlines of citizens over 40, and those considered too fat undergo diet counseling. Failure to slim down can lead to fines." In this county, there are enough obese people to fund two performing arts centers!

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