Category: Arts and Culture

Shame on the Metropolitan Opera

KENNETH FOSTER, director of the Arts Leadership Program, USC Thornton School of Music and Price School of Public Policy.

So, I signed the online petition.

Which petition? The one organized by composer Andrew Rudin urging the Metropolitan Opera to dedicate its opening night, which was Sept. 23, to the LGBT people of Russia in protest of that country’s recently approved anti-gay laws.

I’ll confess I don’t usually sign these online petitions, thinking them largely a waste of time. And I had no real expectation that it would have any real impact on Russian President Vladimir Putin. Still, it seemed important to be part of a growing effort to call out Russia for its barbaric laws banning so-called “propaganda on nontraditional sexual relationships”?

Why We Can’t Let Marilyn Monroe Go

LOIS BANNER, professor of history and gender studies, USC Dornsife.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

Why is Marilyn Monroe still an American icon 50 years after her death? She is endlessly analyzed in films and biographies; her image appears on T-shirts and posters; her popularity is reflected in the 52,000 Marilyn-related items for sale on EBay. My USC students, fixated on contemporary pop culture, know little about 1950s Hollywood stars, except for Monroe. Like everyone else, they puzzle over her death, respond to her beauty, recognize her paradoxes: the ur-blond child-woman, the virgin-whore of the Western imagination.

Life at the Extremes — Not Really

DAVID TREUER, professor of English, USC Dornsife.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

During the election cycle we tend to ask: What does America mean; where are we going? And then someone decides to check on the Indians to find out the answer, as though Indians represent America’s soul hidden in the attic. And of course politicians have long stood next to their “souls” and posed for pictures on the campaign trail.

Within the last year, Diane Sawyer and “20/20” did a special on the sorry conditions at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, and the New Yorker featured a grim photo essay on Pine Ridge too. The New York Times published a piece on brutal crime at the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming and another on the deep financial problems at Foxwoods, the Pequot-owned “world’s largest” casino in Connecticut. Indians make the news, but the news

In China, Blame the Murder Victims

MEI FONG, lecturer, USC’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

After USC graduate students Ming Qu and Ying Wu were shot and killed earlier this month, the Chinese student community in America was saddened, shocked and frightened.

The reaction back home was very different. The killings, which happened while Qu and Wu were sitting and talking in a BMW, unleashed a torrent of Internet vitriol in China, and it wasn’t directed at the pair’s attacker.

A Natural Metaphysical Poet

CAROL MUSKE-DUKES, professor of English, USC Dornsife.

This commentary originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

It was a freezing night in March 1978 — and the small, determined woman climbing next to me up the icy incline to the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for women leaned on a cane. I wanted to take her arm, but because she was famously fiercely independent, I hesitated. Later, I thought that I was right to hold back: Adrienne Rich was that kind of standard-bearer, accustomed to her own “climb,” accustomed to a righteous loneliness in her ascent.

The Importance of Oscar Night — Showing up and Being Photographed

ELIZABETH CURRID-HALKETT, assistant professor USC Price School of Public Policy:

This article originally appeared in Salon.

“This Sunday, hundreds of Hollywood’s brightest stars will cram into the Academy Awards. Among them will be George Clooney, Michelle Williams and many of the best-known names of the entertainment industry — along with lots and lots of people you’ve barely heard of, forming an endless stream of anonymous penguins and haute couture gowns.

It’s not exactly headline news that being nominated for an Oscar can catapult the careers and celebrity status of newcomers like Jennifer Lawrence. What most people don’t know is that Oscar night is even more important to the invited non-nominees – those donning tuxes,

Behind Ocsar’s Nostalgia: Self-Loathing

NEAL GABLER, senior fellow, USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center:

This article originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

“This is the Oscars’ year of nostalgia — or at least that has been the pronouncement among observers. There is, of course, “The Artist,” a silent film set in the silent film era. There is Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo,” which is the story of the rediscovery of one of the early pioneers of the movies, the French director George Méliès. There is Woody Allen’s”Midnight in Paris” in which the protagonist slips through a hole in time into the Paris of the expatriate

How Memorization Makes Words Live

CAROL MUSKE-DUKES, professor of English, USC Dornsife: “All writers strive to make what they write sound inevitable. In poetry, as in prose, we try for that tonal authority. Reading and committing to memory the conversation of literature accelerates this process.…

Kim Kardashian Inc.: Celebrity Economics 101

ELIZABETH CURRID-HALKETT, assistant professor of urban planning: “Whatever you may think of the sudden marital rupture of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries, there is no denying that the Kardashian brand is an industry.  The tabloid and gossip business traffics in…

Where Bohemians Come From

ELIZABETH CURRID-HALKETT, assistant professor of urban planning: “The idea that art can be an economic engine is hardly new, and a walk through SoHo, Venice Beach or Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood shows it can work. The N.E.A.’s promotional material makes clear…