Race! Gender! Classicism/fine art
Posted 29 June 2001 - 12:34 PM
We've often grumbled about the way ballet (and opera, serious drama and music) are portrayed in popular culture, especially TV commercials -- taking a Tylenol to get a man through the ballet, etc. In the past few months, I've noticed several very anti-art commercials, some of them with a twist: not only is the man too macho to be able to stand fine art, but too stupid to appreciate it. I find this extremely offensive.
1. Man at ballet sleeping; woman sitting next to him, in rapt attention, as what looks like "Le Sacre de Printemps" with the people dressed as Pueblo Indians is danced in front of Stonehenge.
2. (This one is actually quite funny) The punch line is "somehow, the imitation is never quite the same as the original" as a corps of slobs trucks through what's billed as Hudson Riverdance. The focus is on a couple in the audience. The man, spitting popcorn as he speaks and obviously merely between beers, loves it, claps and yells, "I smell a Tony!!!!" His date/wife/guardian sitting next to him has a look of utter disgust.
In a related matter, anecdote. I took a cab downtown today and the driver had on one of the local classical music stations. During the ride, I thanked him for it. He looked rather smugly satisfied and said, "I knew you'd like it." (Panic: do I know this man?) Why? "You're white." Do you mean you changed stations when you stopped to pick me up? "Sure." Would you have played this station if I were a white man? "NO!" (subtext, "Fool. Think I'd blow a dollar tip?") I should add I was dressed in blue jeans and a shirt, carrying a backpack, so I don't think I looked like I was about to go commune with Bach anywhere. The driver vigorously denied that he was stereotyping people. The very idea!!! He was right. I was a white female. I liked classical music.
He rested his case.
Anyone want to start a "Men Can Too Like the Arts And Are NOT Dumb?" Special Interest Group?
Posted 29 June 2001 - 02:29 PM
Not me. The second part of the question could NEVER be proven.
Regarding stereotypes--at a former employer where I was a manager, there was a newly hired person was certain that I was gay.
She based this on the fact that I not only talked about opera and ballet a lot but did so quite passionately--or as she put it "flamboyantly".
And the only men who do that, of course....
[ 06-29-2001: Message edited by: Ed Waffle ]
Posted 29 June 2001 - 02:31 PM
Posted 29 June 2001 - 02:33 PM
I wonder if those commercials you cited are more anti-men than anti-art.
Posted 29 June 2001 - 02:48 PM
Originally posted by LMCtech:
I wonder if those commercials you cited are more anti-men than anti-art.
I wondered that too, but then thought that the men who write/shoot/schedule them don't think of them as "dumb" but are still in the "real men spit, scratch their armpits in public and hate ballet" mode. There's another commercial, slightly related, that shows a bunch of men running after a sattelite disk truck like kids after the ice cream truck (the parallel is made literally). When they catch up to him, one guy says, "Do you have figure skating?" The others look at him in horror and he says, "Er, football?" There's another satellite dish commercial that shows the salesman talking to a couple, and falling into the stereotype -- sports for Him, women's stuff for Her. But hey, she's an interesting woman. "What about football?" she says. He looks interested. "Got that." What about racing? she asks. "Horse racing?" he assumes. "Stockcar," she says. Wow! What a gal!
Ed, the "if he likes opera he's gotta be gay" stereotype is out there too. And the guy can't wear a button saying, "Yeah, I like opera but I'm straight" because he'd have to wear a sub-button that says "Please do not take the above comment as a knock on gays."
General point being, that we're still a society that functions with the use of stereotypes, but the stereotypes are different -- and just as harmful, I'd say.
Posted 29 June 2001 - 08:56 PM
Posted 30 June 2001 - 11:43 PM
Originally posted by felursus:
I'm with LMCtech: my husband is straight, white, WASP (English) male who loves classical music (especially the Baroque period), plays the organ (used to play in churches), sings in a large choir (New York Choral Society) and prefers "story" ballets to abstract ones, and has no interest in sports unless it's the Olympics. He would have asked the cab driver to change stations to the classical one.
Posted 01 July 2001 - 01:00 AM
Posted 01 July 2001 - 07:04 AM
Posted 02 July 2001 - 11:34 AM
>>Thank you for posting that, bijoux. Your post holds the only possible solution to this -- being oneself, and to hell with stereotypes, which is obviously easier said than done. I did an interview a few years ago with a black dancer here who runs a summer program for inner city kids, and he said he consistently ran into two attitudes: whites who (still) thought blacks shouldn't be dancing ballet because they couldn't, and blacks who thought blacks shouldn't be dancing ballet because they shouldn't--because it wasn't a "black" art; they should be tapping. I frankly don't know how one could deal with that -- yes, doing what you want to do no matter what people saisd, but it must take an extraordinary amount of courage. We had a thread on racism (in general) in ballet last year and I think almost everyone here was aware of the problems, at least in theory, but at a loss to know what to do about them. Media images of people of color performing and enjoying the fine arts would obviously help. <<
It is very difficult for me when I think about the people who aren't able to "be themselves" because of their race or gender. It tells us something. It tells us that segregation and racism still exhist today, but not in the way people think. This segregation occurs in the minds of the ignorant individuals who embrace every snide comment on being "black" or "white." This is a more abstract but more tragic type of separation, than that of the 40's or 50's. I wonder WHY is it considered so wrong to be black AND like classical music and ballet? Classical music is music just like any other type of music on earth. It is as lovely and as beautiful, as simple and as complex, and as emotional as any other type of music. So, why is it almost "forbidden" to be a lover of classical music when you are a man?
Posted 03 July 2001 - 05:56 AM
A lot of times on this board people get down on sports and don't "understand" why so much coverage and attention is given to them or pop culture and why movie stars get paid millions and we have dance companies closing. I love sports, I love movies and I love ballet but they're not really comparable, and art is very individual.
Last year Mayor Guiliani commisioned a group to censor what he felt was "not art" after an exhibition was shown at a museum. My first reaction (as usual with him) was that he was nuts. Art is supposed to make you think and not every person has the same reaction to it.
I've gotten off the subject of stereotyping and assumptions.
In American society, at a ballet, you are more than likely to have more women than men, more older than younger and even a more affluent crowd. I mean, they serve champagne, the wait staff is fully dressed, the atmosphere is stuffy. There are times when I love to just go in jeans and people look at me as though I'm disrespectful.
I think we have a men like sports and women do the "artsy" attitude here in the States. And if it's portrayed otherwise then the advertiser's are trying to be "pc"
A.C. I don't think it's "forbidden" to like classical music, it's just not the not what the majority does. And unfortunately that's what we base a lot of stereotypes on, majority.
It would be nearly impossible to reverse people's stereotypes but I think sometime's by trying to "counter" the norm, we often keep the stereotype in place by recognizing that there is one. You have to almost be nonchalant about it so as to make it normal, because it is normal. But often we take the defensive, "yeah, I'm a guy that likes ballet but I'm not gay" If people choose to make assumptions then that's their choice and they'll lose your buying power, your trust and your respect, but if we all loved the same things we wouldn't be very diverse and I think it's that diversity that creates genius, someone who challenges the way we think, who forces us to recognize our own fears and mistrusts of things.
Sometimes ignorance can be bliss. I stumbled on to ballet by chance and I love it, but I too once thought it wasn't for me and there are still times when it's not but I don't try to force feed people on it. Art is like religion to me, when the time is right you'll find it.
Posted 05 July 2001 - 10:35 PM
Commercials are very time limited... how much can one say in 30 seconds? I suspect that media people both rely on and create stereotypes as a kind of shorthand in order to pack in more material.
Posted 06 July 2001 - 04:01 PM
Do you think that this is more of a problem in North America, than say, Europe? Though we take pride in our freedom, it seems that in many ways our culture is a lot more uptight than in other countries.
Finally, as a dance student, I'm tired of the common "bunhead" stereotype. The idea that ballerinas are closed-minded and shallow, that ballet is just about starving yourself and looking pretty. I've had experiences with modern dancers that once did classical ballet but now look down on it. As if it is a superficial art, and a ballet dancer is less of a true artist. These ideas are hardly fair...
Posted 08 July 2001 - 12:11 PM
in a performing arts institution. I could not
believe all the "gay" people. But, someone told me to shutup and just do the job. I was
19 and homophobic, to say the least! But, I found out that we are all human beings. We have much more in common, than not.
I also found out over the years how tough
ballet dancers have to be. A recent study, published in the N.Y. Times, concluded that
ballet dancers obtain just as many severe injuries as football players. 'Nuff said!!!!
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