Thirteen Reasons Why – Proof of Positive Celebrity x sociopolitical interaction

When it was announced that Selena Gomez had been an executive producer on a Netflix version of Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why I think the world around people were admittedly wary. With such touchy subject matter how would they turn the revered novel into something visual? And then it came out – and we were in awe. It became the Netflix’s most popular show, racking up 3.5 million social volume impressions in the first week following its release. Here’s why that’s important: it’s proof positive that if celebrities are provided with the information to disseminate to their fans we will be establishing an entire generation of socially, politically engaged individuals with actual fact behind their engagement. The fact that the show features powerful messages about mental health and other issues that teens face today means that hopefully, people will be encouraged to talk about their own experiences after talking about the show; and that the stars and in Selena’s case producers, are accessible because of social media makes it that much more powerful – its tangible because of this.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – social media is not the root of all evil; celebrities having an opinion on social issues and politics and expressing them is not cause for telling anyone to shut up and sing – both of these things come together to create a dialogue from which we have a lot to learn. I give Selena mad props for putting herself out there for a project as important as this one. As we learn in Thirteen Reasons Why – everything affects everything.

What the Selena Gomez Vogue Article Says about Male Interviewers

An issue we have seen before rises to the top of our newsfeed’s once again: male authors writing uncomfortably intimate pieces about female celebrities. To be fair, the piece in question currently – Selena Gomez on Instagram Fatigue, Good Mental Health and Stepping Back from the Limelight in April’s Vogue, is mostly reasonable. However, the authors “protectiveness” over the star’s “doll-like” looks and “tiny waist.” While this is incredibly tame by all standards, as the Guardian points out in Why Do So Many Male Journalists Think Female Stars are Flirting with Them?  “But I think my favourite was US Esquire on Scarlett Johansson: ‘I didn’t look at her ass,’ the male journalist informs us. ‘I don’t know that she wanted me to. Probably not. Surely not. In any case, I didn’t.’ Of course she wanted you to, you fool! It is every woman’s fantasy to be ogled by a tragic male journalist while she tries to do her job.”

The author of the Guardian article goes on to offer examples of female reporters with equally sexualized stars to interview who do not end their articles basically fantasizing about sleeping with the interviewee. Why is this the norm? Why is this a “Perennial issue?” Why is it that when you reach a certain (any) level of fame you no longer become a person and instead become a tiny, fragile, doll for strange men to feel urges of protectiveness over? Selena Gomez dated Bieber through a media firestorm, battles Lupus, has been in and out of rehab dealing with depression and anxiety, she lives in a world where everyone thinks they know her – where they can leave a million comments about her weight, her stability, her weakness – and she thrives. That is not weakness. That is not fragility. Let’s start writing about these artists as they represent themselves – not as your masculinity and sexualized fantasy represents them.

Best Protest Songs of All Time

In two classes; one based on how music and politics intersect, the other delving deep into the Beatles and the music of the 1960’s, it is increasingly difficult to ignore the importance and the impact of protest music. Rolling Stone, of course, provides the list of the 10 best protest songs of all time:

10. Country Joe and the Fish, ‘I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die Rag’

9. Bob Dylan, ‘Hurricane’

8. Creedence Clearwater Revival, ‘Fortunate Son’

7. Bob Dylan, ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’

6. Rage Against the Machine, ‘Killing in the Name’

5. Barry McGuire, ‘Eve of Destruction’

4. Bob Dylan, ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’

3. Buffalo Springfield, ‘For What It’s Worth’

2. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, ‘Ohio’

1. Bob Dylan, ‘Masters of War’

NEA As A Staple for Arts in the US

“We are disappointed because we see our funding actively making a difference with individuals of all ages in thousands of communities, large, small, urban and rural, and in every Congressional District in the nation.” The NEA posted the statement you see here after it was announced that President Trump will be moving forward to eliminate the agency.

Quartz delves into who actually loses if this agency is eliminated. In terms of the actual numbers, the NEA is a tiny fraction of the federal budget, according to The Atlas:

So, why does it matter if the US government gets out of the business of funding arts? Well, as the aforementioned Quartz article puts it, “cutting federal support for the arts will have the greatest impact in rural areas and on the vast swath of America that sits between its coasts. Big city museums and performing arts centers often benefit from the largesse of corporations and luxury brands eager to associate themselves with the high culture they represent. But NEA grant money helps to smooth out access to the arts across the nation, said Ryan Stubbs, the research director at the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies. It funnels essential grants to organizations in underserved counties that are less likely to receive support from private patrons.” So basically, art kids like me who grew up in not-so-metropolitan midwestern cities, that’s who loses here. Learn more about the potential cuts and what they mean here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/with-elimination-of-nea-and-neh-trumps-budget-is-worst-case-scenario-for-arts-groups/2017/03/15/5291645a-09bb-11e7-a15f-a58d4a988474_story.html or here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/15/arts/nea-neh-endowments-trump.html?_r=0

Why some support it here:

http://www.heritage.org/report/ten-good-reasons-eliminate-funding-the-national-endowment-orthe-arts

Huffington Post Talks Music as A Religious Experience

After stumbling over an article in a Baptist publication debating whether or not the Church needs to concern itself with people viewing music as a religious experience I found myself having the same, albeit internal, debate. Thankfully, Huffington Post had worked it out in 2011. Author, Michael Graziano shares his insights in Why is Music Religious Experience? Many of the moral generalizations that have been applied to religion apply just as well to music. Music is a cultural phenomenon. It intensifies emotions. It helps cement communities. It can range from the terroristic to the sublime.” In closing, Graziano shares a sentiment not unlike my own, “My brain is treating the music like a universe of complexity and investing that universe with its own deity, for whom I feel some measure of awe and reverence. My relationship to the music is, in the most fundamental sense, the same as a religious relationship to the real world.”

Raised by former-Catholic’s my experience with church, well institutionalized religion was lacking for many years – basically until I went through confirmation at the United Church of Christ nondenominational church a block away from my house. In the final few months of the Confirmation process we had to write about our interpretation/relationship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit individually. In my writing about the Holy Spirit, I wrote about music, something I to this day see as the tangible mark that something bigger than us is out there giving out gifts. So why is music a religious experience (for some)? To me, its another form of creation – a gift given to those who create it by something or someone beyond this world.

Music as a Religion? Maren Morris Might Think So.

In Maren Morris’ ‘My Church’ she uses traditionally religious rhetoric to communicate the depth of her feelings about music and songwriting. In an interview with Genius, Morris described it as ‘a road song’ saying, “I wrote it in a place of inspiration. I get a lot of my songwriting done while driving around Nashville—sometimes it comes to me that way. I tried to write about that feeling, that connection.”

The chorus of the country chart topper sings,

Can I get a hallelujah
Can I get an amen

Feels like the Holy Ghost running through ya
When I play the highway FM
I find my soul revival
Singing every single verse
Yeah I guess that’s my church

Check out the song, and see about the reference to music as religion for yourself.