Things That Annoy Me Feed

Un-movies, Un-music

I partly agree with what Martin Scorsese says in this NYT piece. In case the link doesn't work, here are a couple of excerpts:

I was asked a question about Marvel movies. I answered it. I said that I’ve tried to watch a few of them and that they’re not for me, that they seem to me to be closer to theme parks than they are to movies as I’ve known and loved them throughout my life, and that in the end, I don’t think they’re cinema.

The situation, sadly, is that we now have two separate fields: There’s worldwide audiovisual entertainment, and there’s cinema. They still overlap from time to time, but that’s becoming increasingly rare.

Most movies have always been junk; after all, the movie industry is an industry. I don't agree that there's any kind of a definite line between "entertainment" and "cinema." Or for that matter between "entertainment" and art of any kind. 

But the comic-book movies do seem to be something different from others. Not drama, not comedy, not horror, not thriller. Not even action, in a sense, because the action is un-human; a sub-genre of their own, really. I've seen a couple of them, and they are entertaining. But the elevation of spectacle over everything else really does make them closer to theme parks than to memorable art. The endless tie-ins to actual theme parks and all sorts of merchandise reinforce that. 

Come to that, I've never bought into the whole idea that comics of the Marvel-DC sort are some sort of profound pop-mythological art to which we should pay serious attention. Even as a child and a young teenager, I didn't have a huge interest in them. I read and enjoyed them when they came my way, usually at a friend's house, but I don't recall ever putting my very limited spending money into the purchase of one. 

This started me thinking about a similar phenomenon, a similar sort of disjuncture, but to me a more striking and decisive one. I don't hear much of today's popular music that is actually popular, but when I do it often strikes me as not being music at all. I don't mean that it's noise; I sort of like noise. I have not just a tolerance but a liking for an adept infusion of noise into music.I like Sonic Youth. I like Low's Double Negative album. I like Fennesz.

I mean that it seems like some sort of artificial quasi-music. When I hear it, my brain doesn't register it as "music" to be liked or disliked, but only as an aural phenomenon, and a very irritating one. It's the musical equivalent of Cheez-Whiz, which is described on the package label as a "processed cheese food product" or something like that. 

Example: the other day I saw a link to a new song "dropped" by the trio of Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, and Lana del Rey. Just out of curiosity, I played the YouTube video. I didn't get more than about 45 seconds into it. As something in the background in a public place, I guess I could have ignored it. Listened to attentively, I found it almost literally unbearable. I dislike absolutely everything about it. I especially dislike the singing style that's fashionable among a lot of these young women singers. And the pugnacious bragging lyrics, also fashionable. The typical music video sleaze is pretty much to be expected. Listen for yourself, if you like. I tried it again and this time didn't bail out till 1:45. 

It's ok if you scoff at my complaint as those of an old boomer who can't handle the kids these days. It doesn't actually have much to do with age. It has to do with whether Cheez-Whiz should be considered cheese or not.

I considered including a video by a young woman artist whom I actually like, though sometimes against my better judgment, but it's a little disturbing. Look for Myrkur on YouTube if you like (or on Spotify or whatever), but be warned that she's...challenging...in a way that these girls are not.


Apostrophes Matter

I went to the local "ordinary Catholic" parish yesterday (as opposed to my normal "Ordinariate Catholic" Mass). We sang "Holy God, We Praise Thy Name," using the music and text from the seasonal missalette. As usual, I grumbled to myself at the second line:

All on earth thy scepter claim

I'm pretty sure the sense of that is supposed to be "acclaim," not "take possession of." Though the latter is arguably a good bit closer to the truth. And I'm sure that I've seen it printed

All on earth thy scepter 'claim

where the apostrophe is meant to indicate the missing "ac." And I've always thought--this is where the grumbling comes in--that whoever worked up this hymn for the missalette simply didn't understand that "acclaim" was meant, and that "claim" is actually rather ludicrously contrary to the intent of the hymn.

Or at least I was sure that I'd seen it with the apostrophe. I decided to track it down, so, back home, I consulted no fewer than six hymnals--I didn't even know we had all these: The Methodist Hymnal (1966); The  Hymnal (Episcopal, 1940--they just call it The Hymnal, because obviously there is only one); The St. Gregory Hymnal (Catholic, 1920); The Pius X Hymnal (Catholic (duh), 1953); The Summit Choirbook (Catholic, 1983); The Adoremus Hymnal (1997); Baptist Hymnal (1956). 

And every one of them has "claim"--except the Baptist, which doesn't have the hymn at all.

Then I looked on the internet: "claim" after "claim" after "claim." The closest I came to what I was looking for, and thought I remembered, were a few variants that had a somewhat different line there, like this one

Saints on earth your rule acclaim

So did I just supply that apostrophe and plant it in my own brain as a memory? If anyone else has ever seen it, please let me know.

The odd thing is that in the "claim" version "sceptre" takes three notes--"sce-ep-tre", so the melody could accommodate "sceptre acclaim" perfectly well. As the hymn is based on the Te Deum, "acclaim" is certainly what's meant. But "claim," as I said, is all too appropriate. I wonder if Providence slipped "claim" in there as a sort of grim joke about the modern world.

I also looked for some definition or widespread use of "claim" in the sense of "acclaim" or "acknowledge," but didn't find that either. 


Sharing Is Not Necessarily Caring

Like any reasonable person, I am annoyed by the tendency on the part of some people to use the word "share" in place of "said" or some equivalent. "Jane shared that she had pizza for lunch." I guess it's one of those infections that has spread from the world of psychotherapy. But I very much enjoyed this item from a news story about a fitness instructor who apparently went a little berserk and started sending death threats to people she viewed as competitors:

“All hell is gonna rain fire down on your world like never seen before,” Steffen allegedly shared in a message to one victim.