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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    adult beginner, avid balletgoer
  • City**
  1. I would just like to chip in with the observation that in many places of work the ancient tradition of the 'fag break' is really the only time employees can really get to know each other, swap work gossip, bond, share cigarettes (I know it's a dirty habit but it's still sharing!) ..... and obviously have a 10 minute break as well! This may seem trivial but when you add up those 15-20 minutes a day, 5 days a week ... it actually adds up to an awful lot of valued getting-to-know-each-other time. This can be especially valuable if your job does not allow for much interaction among employees during actual work time (such as call centres for example). And such brief daily interaction can really 'make or break' a job which is in all other respects suicidally depressing/ demoralizing work! And typically fag break gossip is as much work related as it is personal, and as such it can provides extremely valuable information especially to low paid employees with, for example, short term contracts in companies where staff are fired and hired on a constant basis. We already live in a age where it is apparently acceptable to 'tag' warehouse staff with RFID chips so that their every movement can be tracked to the nearest metre (including going to the bathroom) and monitored for any slight 'drop in efficiency' as if they are merely moving parts in a machine. And this is in the western world. I am certainly not advocating smoking, just recognizing the fact that a society that rids itself of smokers also rids itself of the 'smoking break' which I assume for millions of people will mean means losing up to an hour a week of contact with fellow workers, where they can talk frankly and share company news and gossip as well as just get to know each other - and welcome new employees etc. I am sure one group who are welcoming the steady eradication of smoking and 'smoking culture' are employers who's only interest is profit margins and efficiency and who care very little for their workers. Like I said, I'm really not advocating smoking per se, but I do think the inevitable loss of the traditional twice daily 'smoke breaks' at work is worth pointing out. Maybe such smoke breaks is just a UK phenomenon - I don't know .... I'm just throwing it out there.
  2. Fascinating thread. Am I the only one who thinks that, for social issues like smoking in public, going down the path of rules, regulations and laws in order to protect people's rights and freedoms often achieves little except to transfer the problem somewhere else while encouraging all the wrong attitudes in everyone concerned? Smoking (or not smoking) should never be anything less than a matter of etiquette, politeness and consideration. But it seems that (inevitably) by banning smoking outright in certain areas people are trained to consider it their right to smoke in areas where smoking is permitted. Such 'nanny state' rules encourage child-like behaviour. eg - 'If you don't like me smoking in the park then tough, because I don't like not being able to smoke in the shopping mall.... It's my right by law to be able to smoke in the park' ... and so on... In a funny sort of way, consideration for others actually depends on us being able to offend other people and be offended by them. If that ability is taken away and instead every social action and interaction is dictated by laws and regulations then future generations will no longer have any use for common sense, courtesy, politeness, consideration (and like an underused muscle such concepts will wither away) ... instead, everything will be determined by state regulations and laws and their enforcement and penalties. I do think smoking should be banned where we can't escape it (such as theatres or public transport) ... for venues like bars and clubs why not let the consumer decide? ...... but beyond that where there is a grey area I think even with the best of intentions, trying to substitute personal responsibility and courtesy (in the moment) with fixed laws and regulations seems to be just rearing a society who do not know what personally responsibly and courtesy are.
  3. I have to admit that I find smoke and fire very attractive and appealing. I think we all do. After hundreds of thousands of years living side by side with fires and smoke, which has only recently been replaced by sitting in front of the TV (bleh!), I think the relationship is in our DNA and is a huge part of the allure of smoking. Smoke is an etherial and spiritual thing - how much of our modern life and daily habits fall into that category? And purely in terms of fashion and chic, who doesn't look great seen through a veil of whispy curling smoke? (especially in a black and white photo). But of course that is not quite the same as the reality (health, life expectancy) of actually smoking cigarettes. I gave up after a few years of smoking (on and off) in my early 20's for this reason, but I made a point of not trying to deny the appeal and pretend I 'hated' smoke and smoking (which I don't - although I do find the unhealthiness of it totally unacceptable). Instead (as you can see) I attempted to deconstruct it. Another thing I loved about smoking was the way it focuses your attention on breathing. How many times do we go through a day without actually breathing consciously?! In terms of breathing, smoking can be similar to yoga/ meditation. These days I often take what you might call a 'breathing break' which is basically a cigarette break minus the actual cigarette - although it's so much harder to remember to do it without any of the cravings! Anyway I can certainly understand why anyone - and especially a dancer - would smoke (and that's even before considering the zero calorie energy boost they can give you). Although without doubt the health risks (which should really be called 'unhealth certainties') far, far outweigh the benefits. Plus the benefits can be enjoyed through other means anyway ... breathing exercises ... incense ..... candles ..... real fires if you live in the countryside .... dry ice Anyway, I didn't mean to ramble on - I just wanted to offer up this video clip about how Edward Bernays (the 'grandfather of public relations') made smoking both fashionable and socially acceptable for women. It was all his doing. It's from a four part BBC series called 'Century of the Self'. Well worth watching in its entirety IMHO - there seems to be quite a few versions of it to be found on youtube. Fascinating stuff.
  4. Well Leonid, it seems we will have to agree to disagree on a few things! I just wanted to clarify a couple of things. I did not mean to imply the wedding was 'theatrical' in any negative sense - quite the opposite. And I was really referring to the event as a whole - as experienced by the vast majority in London - rather than the actual service itself. I just meant the whole event was staged, choreographed, elabourate, people were playing roles, there were fly pasts etc. As I mentioned later in my comment I actually think we could do with more truly 'theatrical' occasions in the cultural calender. Formality and a degree of ritual or ceremony has the capacity to focus the attention and heighten the senses - and bring people together physically, emotionally and consciously in a way that more informal events simply can't. There just is so very little in our western 'culture' for ordinary people to experience or participate in of that nature. And we are worse of for it IMO. Personally I have no problem whatsoever comparing the occasion of a royal ballet performance with the occasion of a royal wedding (or any wedding ceremony for that matter) even though they are, as you say, quite different. Both have the potential (certainly not guaranteed!) to be profoundly and spiritually moving occasions. Beyond the obvious differences it just occurred to me that a great ballet company, great ballet partnership or great dancer is an example of lifelong devotion. A wedding on the other hand is an expression of lifelong devotion. So there is one interesting connection, which I rather like. Having said that I am sure millions just watched the royal wedding for its basic entertainment value and out of sheer curiosity, which is not to say others didn't consider it a far more serious and solemn ceremony. Although I'm not sure how far you can really push the idea of the solemn nature of royal weddings if you meant solemn in terms of a sincere undertaking. One only has to look back 30 years to the previous royal wedding (and much of history) to see a flagrant disregard for the sanctity of royal marriages before, during and after the knot was tied. The point being? We have what we have and you have earlier mentioned the thought of sponsorship is anathema to you so where, would the money come from? My point was the royal family (for whatever reason) seem to have cornered the market, as it were, in large scale public, formal, ceremonial and theatrical (in the best sense of the word) occasions. I was really just exploring that and questioning the implications of having a higher ratio of special occasions and events which were not linked to the monarchy. The idea of cost is an interesting one though. After deconstructing the royal wedding I am convinced much (I'm not suggesting all) of the enjoyment and feel good factor derived from such an occasion is actually very low cost indeed. People gathering together costs very little, people cheering costs nothing, people creating a lovely atmosphere costs nothing also. The most expensive part of any occasion of that kind seems to be paying for very important people to come along and then paying police to protect them from being either mobbed by fans or murdered. Perhaps the issue of paying for meaningful and enjoyable public occasions without resorting to corporate sponsorship can be solved not so much by looking at the fundraising side but by a paradigm shift in relation to what we actually want to experience, as well as how we can contribute to that experience ourselves by being less of the passive consumer/ observer. Although much of the wedding ceremony certainly was impressive - and it was certainly expensive - I still can't get the image out of my head of people being pressed up against barricades at Trafalgar Square and surrounded by an equal number of security in fluorescent jackets, all waiting to glimpse the image of royals and other famous people displayed on big screens while waving plastic flags with a Union Jack on one side and Tescos on the other...... And thinking about it now it makes me wonder if having a few shoestring budget public celebrations where everyone just assembled all over the country, chatted, hugged and mingled amiably for a while before going for a pleasent walk (perhaps at night with lanterns or something similar) wouldn't actually be a welcome relief from decades of meticulously planned and policed royal/ pop/ charity/ corporate stadium extravaganzas, ceremonies and street processions. But maybe that's just me. Probably! EDITED TO ADD: Just to clarify - in my previous post by 'disappeared' I meant whisked away to a secure location - but not actually killed!
  5. I'm glad I'm not the only one to have picked up on these issues. See my earlier comment (no. 7 I think). I'm not sure it is technically possible for any of us to judge the level of support for the wedding (or the royal family itself) given that (1) the mainstream media was 'heroically' biased in favour of the event and (2) many dissenters or even 'questioners' and 'free thought provokers' were silenced in pre crime (thought crime) arrests the day before. Had the royal wedding been given about the same amount of build up and coverage as, say, the London marathon I doubt very much there would have many complaints about the media underplaying it. Just my personal opinion of course. But the more the media builds up an event, the more of a sense of occasion they generate and the more people are likely to believe it must be a special occasion (and vice versa). Yet despite all the hype, and as Mashinka points out, there was still a distinct lack of interest, beyond the isolated pockets and all the TV coverage of them. I also think you can't start to make sense of people's attitudes towards the royal wedding unless you start deconstructing the spectacle itself. I mean, what were most ordinary people actually celebrating last Friday? A day off work? A friendly gathering and mingling of fellow strangers from around the world with a carnival type atmosphere? A good nosh up? A break from the breakneck speed of economic and technological 'progress' (and imminent collapse!) which just leaves us all so stressed out and with even less time on our hands?! A breathtaking display of bright colours, beautiful horses, gorgeous clothes, and overall magnificence? And of course a wonderfully overblown ceremony dedicated essentially to the power of love? I only mention all of that because, strictly speaking, none of those things actually have very much to do with either the institution of monarchy or the current royal family at all. They are all examples of theatre, showmanship, costume, scenery, setting and of course an overwhelming sense of occasion. The fact that the royal family have the necessary wealth and clout to be able to close down half of London, 'give' everyone in the UK the day off work and take command of the nations' media and police forces etc in order to create such a palpable sense of occasion does not mean it could not theoretically be created some other way (minus any royal involvement) .... and it doesn't mean the crowds would feel any less enthralled to be attending such an event, whatever it might be (provided politicians were kept well away from any decision making processes!). And so was it actually a 'royal occasion' or was it 'an occasion' which happened to have been organized for us by the royals? OK so granted the happy royal couple were at the centre of it, but who paid for it? (we did) and would it have been the same without the cheering crowds? (I suggest not). So we paid for it and we created the atmosphere. The royal family provided the excuse. I guess the question is whether that excuse is interchangeable! Also, as a balletomane, I couldn't help thinking that as far as the theatrical side of it was concerned an equal (or greater?!) amount of pleasure could have been had from a particularly electrifying night at Covent Garden (or equivalent)..... perhaps after a day spent strolling in one of the royal parks and a wondering round some of London's wonderful buildings. And so it could be suggested that a large proportion of the good will and support the royal family apparently received on Friday (and in general) was really due to a whole bunch of reasons only circumstantially connected to the royal family itself. Driving the point even further it could be suggested that without putting themselves slap bang in the middle of such extravagant, colourful and theatrical ceremonies they might not actually have anything like the support they currently do, which is already far less than the media lets on and dwindling fast. Yes that sounds more sensible and maybe the various street theatre groups and 'royal challengers' ('anti royal' is rather a negative and loaded term) etc could have been allowed to play 'having free speech' out in the sunshine instead of being 'disappeared' and spending 24 hours behind bars. Having said all that I think there is another issue which affects our view of the monarchy and its role which is that we are desperately lacking big happy, meaningful, frivolous, intelligent, colourful, ceremonies and occasions in the western world. Beyond royal occasions we have sports or pop concerts or the Red Bull challenge ... that's about it! Wouldn't it be wonderful to have some big cultural events that weren't corporate sponsored or competitive in nature!? This raises the question: how much might some people's apparent support for the institution of the monarchy be simply a reaction to otherwise being starved of the opportunity to experience and participate in meaningful 'cultural' occasions? I mean we are social animals. Beyond providing food and shelter for ourselves this is what we generally like to do! And so the follow up question would be: if there were more alternative ways to celebrate and express 'British culture' (or a sense of community or whatever you want to call it), or simply more opportunities to have some great big, colourful, overblown ceremonies and occasions, would our feelings towards the privileged position enjoyed by the royal family be altered? But we all know politicians (and I would add the majority of arts councils) can be trusted to make the worst possible decisions regarding any such events or occasions. Royalty do seem to be a little better at it. But I guess I have just made the case that their popularity depends very much on them being able to put on a good show (with our money!).
  6. Anyone else notice how Harry and William shuffled to the altar like young upstarts in hoodies hanging out round the back of a shopping centre (mall)? Talk about seriously un-regal posture... it was borderline homo sapiens! The dress was spot on. Hats were extremely silly. Indoor trees were a nice touch. The BBC coverage went beyond their normal obsequiousness and became simply absurd. Especially when they started talking about social networking enhancing the royal family's fan base among 'young people' and bizarrely comparing this it to the liberating effects of social media to help young people fight oppressive regimes in the middle east (???), then failing to mention the wave of Orwellian 'pre-crime' arrests made here in the UK which ensured street theatre groups and other harmless, absurdist, completely non threatening, royal wedding non-supporters spent the wedding day in jail due to committing 'thought crimes' (free speech) about the monarchy ....... articulated via social media. They really should just point the camera at events like this and not try so hard to 'make sense of it all' for us. Allow people to enjoy their own thoughts as they watch. Like filming dance - less is more!
  7. I don't think I can add much here, but I'll have a go anyway! I was trying to make up some simple 'rules'.... Technique can never be greater than correct. Technique is functional. (A recognized) style is the (conscious, intentional and) selective application of technique. Style is relative and requires other styles to exist. Style is a measure of both differentiation and coherence.
  8. RE 'contractual challenges'. Rather than bother dealing with 'troublesome' ballet dancers in the future, I can imagine the next 'ballet film' makers deciding to use an entirely CGI/ animated dancer with some current skinny and in-vogue Hollywood starlet's face superimposed on top. But perhaps in the end that would be the best way for Hollywood to go....? Anyway my main reason for posting was to link this video which perfectly illustrates the deceitful tactics employed, especially regarding the now infamous FX reel.
  9. "...She became a prima ballerina.." (Aronofky on Portman at the BAFTAs) And spoken on stage at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden of all places..... I'm surprised an alarm didn't go off. But seriously, this remark sums up, for me, what is at the heart of the whole thing. That (for anyone who's actually interested, and I know many aren't particularly bothered) it is fundamentally all about the clashing of cultures. To pick up on Quiggin's sentiment a few comments back, I would say the Hollywood entertainment industry likes to create its illusions through deception and the world of classical ballet likes to create its illusions through honesty. The deceptive approach leads to a more defensive attitude and behaviour (as demonstrated by the Portman camp) and the honest approach leads to a more protective attitude and behavour (as demonstrated by the Lane camp). I'm sure I am over simplifying and I'm definitely biased in favour of 'ballet culture' (Hollywood culture leaves me cold) but there you go! I hope the world of ballet and the world of Hollywood (as it is today) continue to have little to do with each other as I can see only harm being brought to ballet and no good at all. But I know this is unlikely to stay the case - especially now that new technologies allow for Hollywood style illusions to be realized with increasing ease.
  10. I haven't seen her ask for personal publicity, I've seen her object to her work being credited to Portman. It's one thing to agree to work behind the scenes so to speak. It's another to stay silent while people say you really didn't do very much work. I think it goes even further than that. Natalie Portman won an oscar for her portrayal of a ballet dancer. A portrayal which included - in case anyone missed it - (the idea of) a magical transformation from standard issue 'pretty Hollywood actress' to the 'amazing ballet dancing pretty Hollywood actress'. At least it did in the (non ballet going) general public's perception. That transformation (however vaguely or not so vaguely insinuated) was, whether Portman and co admit it or not, a part of the magical appeal of the movie and it presumably helped (certainly didn't harm) her to get the Oscar. Or if she was going to get the oscar for it anyway (I now, I know ... how cynical of me!) the backstory of 'becoming a ballet dancer' certainly helped to justify that award decision. Maybe it doesn't matter that Sarah Lane danced all the dancing scenes and she should stop making such a fuss over it ... but if it really doesn't make any difference then why didn't they credit Sarah Lane a bit more, why didn't Natalie Portman acknowledge her existence and thank her for her contribution when accepting the award (after all, the Oscar was for her acting only and not for Sarah's dancing, right?), why did the FX company re-edit the FX reel to remove all the head swapping CGI techniques used, why was Sarah Lane asked not to do interviews, and why Natalie's refusal (in the video linked a few comments up) even now to just acknowledge Sarah's actual contribution, and why the need for so much evading of the truth, resorting to that horrible kind of 'talking-randomly-with-an-air-of-sincerity-until-you-figure-everyone-has-forgotten-what-the-actual-question-was' speak which is so popular amongst sleazy politicians? It seems clear that somehow an illusion was created about Natalie's dancing contribution - not just in the movie but outside of it too. And now that Sarah is coming forward and dispelling that illusion a bit by being truthful (which seems fair enough), they seem to be creating yet another illusion; this time of a crazy, hysterical, attention seeking, jealous, unprofessional dancer trying to 'spoil the show' (or similar phrase!) of a fellow artist just because she won an Oscar. Sour grapes and all that. Calling it a 'Ballet Battle' only reinforce that illusion and allows Portman's evasion of the truth to come across as justified dismissal of such amateurish whinging. That's my assessment anyway FWIW! Hollywood is a machine and it runs on and for money. The media and Hollywood are intimately linked and have a symbiotic relationship. One will always prop up the other. Always. Therefore kudos (and extra bonus kudos) to Sarah for setting the record straight in such a dignified and professional way in the face of all of that. As a side note, it's fascinating to see how the internet is something which definitely can now compete with the Hollywood/ media PR machine. I predict the internet will continue to dispel many more myths and carefully crafted illusions regarding Hollywood in the future. I mean big shocking ones. The kind that will leave people stunned! We shall see..... As for Portman and Lane, there is one way this whole epic saga can be resolved once and for all. A dance off of course!
  11. That SFX reel no longer shows the head replacement stuff (at least not for Portman). So presumably the original reel must have been reedited and replaced with those bits missed out for some reason....
  12. Apologies Helene. I've always found it such a consistently 'professionally' written and put together site (and by an industry insider) that I never thought it wouldn't qualify. But in hindsight I should've checked first. Shame though, as it deconstructs the film better than any 'professional' review I've read so far (which is quite a lot!) ..... still I'm sure in a few years the mainstream critics will revisit the film and figure out the rest of it! Meanwhile, I understand the rules and will resist posting such links again
  13. Black Swan finally opens in the UK this weekend! I've really enjoyed this thread so far and I just watched that Lookfx clip which was fascinating. Thanks all!
  14. This is a fair point! .... and yet .... who pays Goliath's wages? WE DO every time we buy a CD, DVD or watch TV. What would happen to these giants if we didn't show up to see the next insultingly formulaic assault-on-our-senses blockbuster movie? I bet half the people who go to such movies only do it so they aren't left out of the conversation when everyone else is talking about it at work, or because they lack the imagination to think of a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon. There is a REASON why mass entertainment/ media has gone into fast-edit-in-your-face overdrive over the last decade, they are having to to keep hold of people's attention. They KNOW people are waking up and communicating with EACH OTHER on the net rather than staring at the TV all evening. They KNOW more and more people are becoming sick and tired of their glossy, fake, oversexed, moronic, plastic, showbiz world. These giants are a lot more vulnerable than you might think! And after, the power of this particular Goliath lies in the power of the media which lies in its ability to generate a consensus... a consensus among the people. So where does the power really lie? The only thing keeping the mass entertainment industries alive today is our collective lack of spontaneity and imagination!
  15. (((Apologies to BT mods for previous ridiculously long post, I won't make a habit of it! I've managed to more than halve the character count - still a bit long I know but I hope this is a bit better. I hope it still makes some sort of sense, my brain has turned to mush!))). I've been (reluctantly!!!!!!) out of the loop for quite a while ballet-wise and I haven't posted (or even lurked) here for a loooong time. But I recently watched the video of Jaered Glavin's piece for RNZ ballet (the one set to the 'Lady GaGa' song 'Bad Romance') and I've noticed there's been some other ballet works that have involved her and so I did a search to see if anyone here at Ballet Talk had been discussing it (answer: only in passing in this thread as far as I can tell). But although there isn't much discussion of RNZB/ GaGa here, the rest of this thread does tie in perfectly with what I wanted to say anyway, so here goes... Regarding the inappropriate sexualization of children/ young people against a general backdrop of dumbing down, loss of innocence, erosion of values (and other issues discussed in this thread) I'm sure we've all noticed these same themes being brought up in similar conversations/ debates all over the world, but what amazes me is that, by and large, no one ever makes much reference to what I am calling out as being the elephant in the room: The fact that today arts/ entertainment / culture is becoming increasingly sponsored, influenced, owned, controlled and therefore defined by giant interlocking faceless corporations who's main purpose in this world, beyond ALL other considerations (by design, don't blame them - they can't help it), is to increase their power and dominance in the marketplace and make as much money as possible, as soon as possible, and as effectively and efficiently as possible. And so my question is this: How can we possibly hope to make sense of the kinds of issues raised in this thread without even bringing up this fact and examining its (presumably) far reaching implications? In fact what is the point in even discussing culture, morality, trends in attitudes, behaviour, fashion etc without properly recognizing and investigating this most powerful and influential group? You know, that group of interlocking faceless corporations which together are increasingly responsible for our entire mainstream 'culture'!!! This is especially significant because corporate agendas and strategies are basically 'political' agendas and 'war' strategies in the sense that they are primarily about power, money, control, domination, fighting off (or cutting deals with or simply acquiring) all competition as well as creating and defining a target market and then conquering it. Note the aggressive war-like terms. This kind of ruthless, competitive mindset may be good for driving innovation in cell phones, laptops, cars etc (ie making everything thinner, faster, sexier while simultaneously creating and defining a cult-like obsession with such characteristics in order to keep the target market operating like rabid consumers)... but it may be not so great for driving art/ entertainemt/ cultural trends (ie making everyone thinner, faster, sexier while simultaneously creating and defining a cult-like obsession with such characteristics in order to keep the target market operating like rabid consumers!!!). Unlike more old fashioned competition and business strategies which I think can benefit art/ entertainment/ culture in many ways, these giant interlocking corporations are now growing to a ridiculous size, not least because they are all merging together, resulting in ever more centralization of power and control in the hands of a few and with this comes the standardization and homogenization of art/ entertainment/ culture across the world. I feel that this is fairly easy to understand intellectually but harder to appreciate fully - in terms of what is actually *happening* right now as well as what the potential implications are. The main reason for this is that we are still letting other people DEFINE for us what is art/ entertainment (and so by definition what art / entertainment IS) and we are automatically and unquestioningly (unconsciously even) accepting these definitions on cue. If something is defined for us as a 'pop video' or 'movie' or 'fashion' or whatever most people automatically accept these definitions, and judge accordingly. We may like it or dislike it (react to it) but we'll generally accept, for instance, the definition of a 'pop video' without even really knowing (and certainly never thinking to question and investigate) what, in today's world, a 'pop video' actually IS or how 'being a pop artist' actually, you know, works in reality - I mean in REAL LIFE, behind the scenes, beyond this corporate controlled mass entertainment/ mass media circus show. This may have been a perfectly reasonable attitude in the past when artists and entertainers themselves were far more responsible for defining their art and entertainment, and the media and entertainment culture was a lot less sophisticated and powerful, but today huge corporations are increasingly defining art/ entertainment through their totally manufactured and controlled 'artists' and they are using vastly more powerful, intrusive and CONVINCING mass media technologies and techniques to do so. And we, the masses, do more than merely accept these definitions - we USE them ourselves (for instance in casual conversation) ..... we participate in them. And as we participate en masse in the use of these definitions provided for us we end up validating them, through our own participation, until they become part of our accepted 'reality'. And so by not questioning or challenging these definitions we are effectively writing a note to the industry saying 'Hey, feel free to define our culture for us, and we'll go along with it'. In this way you could say 'dumbing down' is something we are absolutely bringing on ourselves. It's easy to see how the fast food industry (the same corporate agendas) defines its food as 'Happy' or 'fun for kids' or whatever but WON'T define it as the end result of the most ruthlessly efficient process involving some vaguely food-like material along with a lot of dubious high tech alchemy in order to produce a completely non nutritious, unhealthy, yet instantly satisfying and potentially addictive 'meal experience' designed to make maximum profits above all other considerations, including your potential ill health and reduced life expectancy. It's up to us to come up with definitions like that - and act accordingly - and this is not very difficult to do. In fact I bet most people reading this don't really classify 'fast food' as real *food* at all. But it's not quite so clear cut with the mainstream art/ entertainment industries because (1) there's so many more different people involved and (2) whereas fast food may make use of information (advertising etc) to sell their products, with the mass entertainment industries the product itself IS information. Which begs the question: where does the art/ entertainment end and the advertising, indoctrination, product placement and so on begin?! What evidence is there that the whole mass entertainment industry isn't just manufacturing some kind of advertising/ product / indoctrination/ cultural conditioning/ social programming hybrid monster genre in order to specifically benefit their short/ long term money making agendas and in doing so redefining art/ entertainment/ culture (civilization!) along the way? And if it is, should WE ourselves still be defining it as, and treating it as 'art/ entertainment'? Isn't that sheer madness? And what do we do with genuine art/ entertainment? In fact how do we even tell what is what anymore?! And this is where it gets really interesting for me because I would suggest these complex (or not so complex) corporate messages (which I'll go into a bit more in a bit) filter down through the music, videos, image etc of the controlled 'super league stars' and this in turn helps to set the trends for the rest of the lower levels of the industry (the less well known artists, producers, image consultants etc) to pick up on. This is relevant to modern ballet/ dance because, even if it is largely immune from being controlled directly by giant corporations in the way popular music is, choreographers today do tend to be very influenced by what's happening around them such as science/ technology, media, society and other arts including popular music/ videos/ fashion. And with every arts scene so full of people desperate to 'make it' (which often translates as: copy what seems to be popular right now) these popular trends easily get reinforced and reworked and the whole thing starts to look more like a natural, spontaneous process ....... and in this sense it almost is EXCEPT it is not from the ground roots up, it is from the top down and then back up again (gross simplification but you know what I mean I hope). And this completely invalidates the whole process in my opinion. And with artists, audience, producers, clubbers, fashion/ style/ image professionals and the whole youth culture all chasing the same basic trends and multiplying/ reflecting these trends in every direction it only serves to validate, reinforce and anchor the agenda, the messages, defined *initially* right at the top by the corporations themselves, which then sets up our whole culture ready to be taken on to the next stage. I would suggest the RNZB/ GaGa ballet piece is an example of this process happening. The reason why GaGa is in vogue right now (slight understatement) is because, regardless of any talent or not, she has signed up to the agenda of the pop 'super league', if she hadn't we probably still wouldn't have heard of her. Her videos and all round message are absolutely 100% in line with every other artist currently in that league. Today every artist in the 'super league' is either been brought in or let in and has surrendered artistic, moral, aesthetic control whether willingly, reluctantly, naively etc. Many people - including intelligent, discerning people - seem to view GaGa as some kind of refreshingly original force in pop music, sent here on a mission to inject a tired and formulaic industry with much needed pazazz and bizarreness. Acting out a blood sacrifice before being winched up in front of a blatantly freemasonic backdrop during a live performance (2009 VMA's) might seem 'refreshing' or 'crazy!' to some people or perhaps just a welcome respite from all the gun toting and crotch grabbing (and that's just Rihanna!), but it's all really just a continuation of the same basic messages the industry has been pumping out for years. The increasing 'shock factor' is only used to distract us from the truth that the messages (values, ideas, emotions, concepts) put out by the industry through these 'artists' are as limited and limiting as the strictest most bonkers religious cult (in this case the cult of dumbed down corporate celebrity based consumerism - and it really is a cult if you stop and think about it). While it is true she has more creative input to her songs than many artists at that level (some of which probably have no creative input whatsoever) and has more intelligence and charisma than most (not exactly difficult) it is also clear that she has been swallowed up - assimilated - by the corporate music industry machine and like the other artists in that league GaGa is just another spokes(wo)man for the agendas being pushed by the corporate music industry cult leaders. So, anyway, along comes Jaered who decides to have some fun with a piece choreographed to her music. Naturally it is aligned with the general GaGa message/ vibe (which is in turn aligned with and dictated by the industry's message). So let's hear what Jaered has to say about his dance piece: "When we made it we used all classical ballet steps - it's all on pointe - even though the shoes are gold - but we wanted to distort it and make it really ugly so the knees would be bent the feet would be clawed ..... just make ballet hideous... and yeah .. and just outrageous really." Well if that doesn't totally sum up the corporate agenda for art I don't know what does! Now I don't actually think Jaered wants to destroy art or corrupt culture (but you never can tell, he does look a little bit shifty!) and I don't even think Lady GaGa does either - although in all seriousness I am sure she couldn't care less, she is after all a 'Fame Monster' (this used to be called 'being a sell out'....but has now been redefined in a more fun way!). Nor do I think this piece does any harm to anything or anyone by itself, how could it? - that would be ridiculous. Nor do I think art/ culture needs to be protected or conserved (in a defensive way I mean). Breaking rules, destroying what's gone before, mixing it all up, subverting traditions, and HAVING SOME FUN AND BEING A BIT SILLY etc etc is all perfectly fine - obviously! And yet...... it's telling to me that the ONLY thing I know about Jaered (seems like a lovely chap, I don't really think he looks shifty at all!) or his work is the above quote and a short ballet of his where the dancers wear 'dollar sign' sunglasses, act at times like vacuous catwalk models/ divas (obviously imitating GaGa style) and there was even (gasp) a shocking lesbian kiss moment. That isn't so much a reflection on him but of the media and the mass entertainment industry.... and that's how it seems to work. Like I said, the agenda comes down from the top (unnaturally) and then is replicated and reflected back up again (naturally). This piece may have little direct effect on human civilization on its own but it does nevertheless help to reinforce GaGa (and the corporate agenda/ message she represents) as being valid and important and supposedly (one of) the best things happening in the 'art/ entertainment' world right now. It helps make GaGa's position seem very real and natural when in fact it is a largely contrived illusion and a vehicle for promoting various messages, in order to help secure the corporate take over of all art/ entertainment/ culture ... of the world!!! A thousand other similar scenarios like this all over the world will also give the same impression to the various other bearers of the corporate torch and it's only when you imagine this collective effect and then play that continuous evolving process out over a few years and then even decades, and then several generations that we can get a feel for how it can have an effect on human civilization! The last 50 years or so is, after all, the first time in at least 12,000 years of human history that we have seen the rapid creation of a global culture which is increasingly owned and controlled by a shrinking number of ever increasingly powerful global corporations with the use of unprecedentedly powerful media technology at their disposal. Something to think about?.... perhaps? .... just don't let the media decide for you - the media represents those very same corporations and will say 'don't listen to this crazy ranting person, it's all just harmless entertainment!' This ballet also shows (to me anyway) that if something furthers/ reinforces the basic agenda it gets picked up and shoved in our faces and if it doesn't further the agenda then we probably don't get to see it or hear about it. And if Jaered wanted to do future collaborations with GaGa or make more GaGa-esque pieces using her music he would probably get a lot more exposure and possibly money being thrown his way. Other projects maybe less so. With things set up in this way the natural urge among ('normal', genuine, no hidden agenda) artists to be successful (ie to follow certain trends they think will be or are already proving popular) will *inevitably* result in us all steering 'art/ entertainment/ culture' in a direction very much influenced by these giant corporations, even without us realising we are doing it. And given the HUGE UNPRECEDENTED POWER of the mainstream media and communications technology in general today just how much of an effect on global culture could even the most subtle interference/ influence (by powerful corporations) have on culture/ society/ civilization over an extended period of time?! In fact I think this is exactly what HAS been happening for decades - especially with music and film/ television. As someone once said, 'all media is influenced and informed by all preceeding media'. Just where might we be culturally and socially *without* corporations involvement over the last few decades?! And of course now we also have a culture (thanks again to those nice corporations and clever multi millionaire businessmen like Simon Cowell) which is being reprogrammed (redefined) to be more obsessed than ever before with 'fame', 'status', 'success' and 'competition'. Yet we know those who are creating this culture of competitiveness and fame worship are also dictating to an increasing degree who actually becomes famous. It's incredible to think that just a few years ago the industry still tried to HIDE the fact that they manufactured bands or 'stars' using strict and cynical formulas. But now they are doing it publicly, in fact in front of live theatre audiences! Now we enjoy watching multi millionair industry scouts and their C-list celeb side kicks find naive, malleable, fame seeking wannabes (fame monsters) with just the right looks, voice, 'personality', juggling skills (whatever) and openly make a fast buck with them. Simon Cowell might as well just turn around to the audience and say, "Would you buy that?..... yeah?....... OK, the masses like her, we'll use this one .... guards! ... take her to her quarters, we'll start training her tomorrow." End result: Artists/ entertainers now redefined as media generated caricatures of people who's only dream in life was to sign away control of their image and 'personality' to corporations in exchange for money, fame and celebrity. 'Cult of celebrity' teaching children to aspire to sell out (competitively - who can sell out the best!) to corporations in exchange for fame. And so with a super league of sell outs at the top and the great unwashed masses all competitively seeking fame at all costs (desiring to sell out) at the bottom, the corporations can begin to literally redefine arts / entertainment in terms of everyone selling out to them, or buying the products related to the people who have sold out to them. If that isn't the conquering of a market I don't know what is. (although I'm sure they can, and will try to take it much further). Such is the crazy world we now live in! We have indeed come a long way. This whole system is absolutely obscene when you deconstruct it - but if you just accept the official definitions as they are presented to us it feels like a first rate 'family entertainment based culture' with high production values, snappy editing and at least one guaranteed hot presenter in every TV show. And this kind of glossy, well produced Saturday Night TV Entertainment is exactly the kind of thing we all crave so badly, right? ......... The mass entertainment / mass media industries are VERY GOOD at what they do, you can't take that away from them! In addition to this kind of dumbing down many of today's 'super league' pop videos (and 'fashion', 'movies' etc to a lesser extent) are all absolutely full of occult, satanic, masonic, (trauma based) mind control, transhumanist and other types of imagery and symbolism to the point of being ridiculously blatant about it. This gives some indication of the types of people involved in (certain areas of) the industry and the deeper agendas/ beliefs/ practices they have. In fact some of the recent industry award shows are blatant masonic rituals from start to finish. As one music industry insider said in an interview, "...parents go out and buy all this stuff to make their kids happy not realizing they are feeding their kids to the wolves". Most people think they are just silly pop videos, with now other meaning other than 'entertainment' - they believe this because (as I've been kind of suggesting quite a lot) that's how they have been defined for us. Yet if you've ever watched any videos by Jay-Z, Beyonce, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, Black Eyed Peas, Lady GaGa, Mariah Carey, Kerli (to name a few) your subconscious will have noticed all of this symbolism, imagery and hidden meanings even if your conscious mind didn't. And this is all in addition to the rest of the dumbed down messages they all contain! Whether this is part of the 'rules' of the secret societies that run so much of the industry or whether it is an attempt to desensitize people (semi subliminally) to occult and other themes is up for debate. Certainly predictive programming is a BIG strategy used in the music and movie industries to get people used to certain specific ideas, concepts, behaviours - particularly in relation to the relentless implementation of Orwellian technologies into our lives. Some people even suggest they put the occult or freemasonic imagery and themes in just to test if anyone will notice - to see just how dumbed down everyone is! Or you could look at it simply as the continuation of a long gradual process which has been going on for decades. Because when you stop 'judging and reacting' and instead ...... step back, take a deep breath and look at it again.... it's pretty obvious the majority of the mainstream art/ entertainment inflicted on us is an affront to everything special, sacred, meaningful and above all human in the world and has been for generations. It's almost like a relief to be able to admit it! It is NOT a reflection of us, nor we of it - if we are honest. It is trash and we are human beings, infinite creatures full of love and creativity!!! And like I said at the beginning, I think we all know this rationally and intuitively, it's just a case of understanding better what is going on in order to have the confidence and clarity to stand by what we already know. Of course I'm not saying there aren't many people in the art/ entertainment industries trying their best to be positive, productive and sincere within such a sick environment but it is basically a hijaked industry (at the 'top' anyway). Hijacked by corporate interests and mentality. The mass entertainment/ media industries are pretty dark and evil (at certain levels anyway) if you ask me, although I should say I'm not in the least bit religious myself and so I'm talking more in archetypal terms, mindsets and methodology. And in that sense what could be more 'evil' (unbalanced) than attempting to corrupt the population by stealth and deception through mass entertainment (which let's face it is little more these days than mass indoctrination, mass distraction and mass deception) and by destroying art by subverting it, subtly REDEFINING it out of existence - just to control the market better and generate money? I believe this kind of 'evil' takes hold wherever we lack proper understanding. Don't they say the devil uses trickery/ deception/ flattery to make people do bad things ..... and that his greatest trick of all was to convince everyone he does not exist? Again, I see this as a perfect metaphor for the art/ entertainment/ media industries. By defining themselves as providers of harmless, fun, frivolous entertainment everyone lets their guard down, no one thinks critically and no one questions the reality being presented to them. Instead we judge and react, judge and react.....And before we know it we're all dancing to violent, misogynistic, ego centric garbage, watching violent and idiotic movies, worshipping personality disordered celebs (and being entertained when they act 'crazy') as if it were all normal 'entertainment' (whatever that means) and as if none of it matters , there are no consequences and life is like an episode of 'Friends' ................. and then we wonder why culture, society and the whole world is becoming increasingly corrupted and messed up! But I don't really see this as a moral issue - although we can of course talk in those terms. What I mean is I don't think we need to be thinking in terms of censorship or more conservative values or being protective of culture - because although corporate mass art/ entertainment is having a negative impact on our culture and society, ultimately (in the 'big picture' sense) I think it is acting more like an indicator of how much WE have simply lost touch with reality ... with our instincts, creativity, spirit, heart, soul - our higher functions! The real issue is not what's going on 'out there' in art/ entertainment / culture or society at large, but what's going on inside every single one of us. And isn't that perfectly demonstrated by this out-of-control corporate/ consumerism dominated world? .... it is the type of world we get when our state of being is all about constantly looking 'out there' to express ourselves and to solve all problems (through products, services, objects, images, 'stuff', status, hierarchy, control) instead of asking the questions and finding the answers inside first. We are externalizing everything to the point that there is nothing left inside! Just look at celebs! Perfect beings - all surface and no interior! Or switch on the TV - no one is thinking, instead they are just judging and reacting, judging and reacting, judging and reacting..... that's what we all do these days. This is why I believe the most revolutionary act today is to question our (largely media imposed) reality, think critically for ourselves and trust our own heart, instincts and common sense ..... and trust each other! And perhaps switch off the TV - throw it out and have a street party or something - get to know your neighbours! (And if you want to keep your TV at least insist on installing your own TV in the offices and boardrooms of every media corporation and transmitting YOUR programming, your messages, your mindset 24/7 into the minds of all who work there - just to make it a two way thing, just to make it fair!). Investigating and trying to understand corporate agendas and strategy in relation to art/ entertainment/ culture (and beyond, but I've tried to stay focused) can be a bit shocking and unsettling! (of course you might all think I'm being hysterical and talking rubbish! -which is fine by me, I'm not trying to convince anyone to 'believe' me - nor do I pretend to really know what is going on). But after a while shock turns to intrigue and you start to think crazy thoughts like 'what would happen if we all stopped supporting these corporations and their agendas and kind of made our own culture and defined our own reality?!' .... 'how far culturally (as a civilization!) could we go if we had full control of art/ entertainment and children were not being dumbed down and assaulted by this 'culture' of violence, ego, moronic idiocy, status, fame etc?' I hope no one objects to such a lengthy, slightly rambling post about what might be seen as controversial or even 'political' subject matter, especially from such an infrequent poster. I couldn't be any less interested in political matters, believe me! I care only about welfare of my fellow HUMAN BEINGS and my only motivation for posting is that if I was a parent of young children myself I would want to read a post like this. Having said that, I'm not trying to convince anyone to agree with anything I've written - I'm just suggesting there might be a lot more to know regarding these subjects and that it might be worth investigating further. I hope my post comes across as largely positive (in a funny, ranty sort of way). In all seriousness I think young people today are a far more 'advanced species' than the rest of us - despite the pressures of this crazy time we find ourselves in, or maybe because of it. Sure, some are struggling to cope with the messed up world we have created for them (not exactly surprising!), but so many young people I've encountered show far more wisdom, knowledge, awareness and emotional/ spiritual balance than we could probably ever hope to manage.... and if they can stay true to themselves (and if we can give them the support to do that) then the future is guaranteed to get better for all. Sorry that probably sounds a bit pompous, but I really mean it! I really do feel we are all ‘under attack’ from the kinds of ‘corporate agendas’ I've described - but young people particularly - and I feel so much of what’s typically described as *their* social or behavioral problems is really just fall out from that (they are casualties of war!). It’s the least we can do to try and understand, with our adult perspective, what on earth is going on in the world and be a bit more ‘street wise’, for all our sakes. A few ‘off the top of my head’ suggestions for further research in case anyone is interested: 'Starsuckers' (search youtube) excellent documentary on celebrity, mass media culture. vigilantcitizen.com - explores the occult, transhumanism, mind control etc themes so prevalent in movies and music today in a sober, methodical, non hysterical way. 'The Century of the Self' (search youtube) a fascinating four part series charting history of propaganda/ public relations and mass media throughout the 20C 'The Age of Transitions' (search youtube) documentary about transhumanism
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