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 Politics and the Arts

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PostSubject: Politics and the Arts   Mon May 26, 2008 1:31 am

On another thread there has been some discussion of Bruce Springsteen's criticism at his recent concerts of the political changes in the US.



This is my favourite political song - I remember the very first time I heard it. I was about nine years old and embedded itself in my brain, not for the inevitability of its title but for the litany of crimes against humanity which it presents.

We accept to a certain extent politics in the arts - in theatre and literature once we don't have to live it too painfully as in the plays of Sarah Kane for example; selectively in music once the artist doesn't fall into the trap we like to set for those whom we like to categorise. And sometimes, as at election times, we consider the way in which political messages impinge on the arts and artists as a quirk or indulgence to be endured temporarily.

In ancient times, much art was political in nature - the classic Greek tragedies, the sagas passed on through word of mouth for generations, and later the sardonic poetry that tickled medieval and later again Augustan writers like Pope.

What is the modern attitude to the relationship between politics and art - indeed, what is the nature of that relationship? Is it a case that much 'political' fiction nowadays is based on what will sell - mostly in the cinema where films like Lions for Lambs are overtly political or the pesky Russians in the latest Indiana Jones (go and see it ,by the way) are portrayed, even for 1957, in terms of a stereotype with which we are frighteningly familiar and even more frighteningly happy to accept.

What think the MN posters to the idea of (happy, unhappy) marriage between politics and the arts?
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PostSubject: Re: Politics and the Arts   Mon May 26, 2008 1:55 am

This is from Breaking News - well done to all concerned. I am looking forward to seeing this.

A film about an IRA hunger strike in a prison in the North has won an international award tonight.

'Hunger', which focuses on life at the Maze Prison and the hunger protest in 1981, received the Camera d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival tonight.

It is directed by London-born Turner Prize winner Steve McQueen and stars Irish actor Michael Fassbender as IRA prisoner Bobby Sands, the leader and the first to die in the Maze prison hunger strike.

Co-producer Laura Hastings-Smith, who worked alongside Robin Gutch, said: "We're all absolutely thrilled, and thrilled for Steve, thrilled for the film and for everyone who's worked on Hunger.

"The key to the film was that it looked at the humanity of the story and how this place, Maze Prison, at that time in history, how it was a brutalising place for everyone - be you prison officer, prisoner, orderly or riot guard.

"It was a tragedy for everyone. We looked at what happens when dialogue stops and that has a resonance across the world."

The film was shown as part of the 'Un Certain Regard' section of the festival, which encourages innovative works and young talent.

The film is set in one of the H-blocks at Maze Prison in 1981, where republican prisoners were on protest.

New inmate Davey Gillen (Brian Milligan) shares a cell with republican prisoner Gerry Campbell (Liam McMahon) who trains him how to smuggle items and exchange communications, passing them on to their H-block leader Bobby Sands.

The film tells how the rioting broke out and violence spread beyond the Maze.

McQueen said news coverage of Sands' hunger strike and eventual death he had seen as a child stayed with him.
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PostSubject: Re: Politics and the Arts   Mon May 26, 2008 2:14 am

I'll stick with music for the moment. I suppose one of earliest exposures to political songs was the one below. I don't know when it was I first heard it but I do remember that it's always had some political meaning for me.



My Dad was into his protest songs and one artist I recall being played a lot was Phil Ochs.


Though I must say I like "love me I'm a liberal" a lot more.

And the one which is haunting, to say the lease, is Billy Holiday singing "Strange fruit", I was reminded of this by the lynching image in the video of the song she posted.

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PostSubject: Re: Politics and the Arts   Mon May 26, 2008 1:28 pm

I heard of a French song written some time ago which advocated peace in the North. It was called something like 'Let's all sit under the orange tree'.

Generally though, that lazy Beatle put me off protest songs.
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PostSubject: Re: Politics and the Arts   Thu May 29, 2008 2:22 am

cactus flower wrote:
This is from Breaking News - well done to all concerned. I am looking forward to seeing this.

A film about an IRA hunger strike in a prison in the North has won an international award tonight.

'Hunger', which focuses on life at the Maze Prison and the hunger protest in 1981, received the Camera d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival tonight.

It is directed by London-born Turner Prize winner Steve McQueen and stars Irish actor Michael Fassbender as IRA prisoner Bobby Sands, the leader and the first to die in the Maze prison hunger strike.

Co-producer Laura Hastings-Smith, who worked alongside Robin Gutch, said: "We're all absolutely thrilled, and thrilled for Steve, thrilled for the film and for everyone who's worked on Hunger.

"The key to the film was that it looked at the humanity of the story and how this place, Maze Prison, at that time in history, how it was a brutalising place for everyone - be you prison officer, prisoner, orderly or riot guard.

"It was a tragedy for everyone. We looked at what happens when dialogue stops and that has a resonance across the world."

The film was shown as part of the 'Un Certain Regard' section of the festival, which encourages innovative works and young talent.

The film is set in one of the H-blocks at Maze Prison in 1981, where republican prisoners were on protest.

New inmate Davey Gillen (Brian Milligan) shares a cell with republican prisoner Gerry Campbell (Liam McMahon) who trains him how to smuggle items and exchange communications, passing them on to their H-block leader Bobby Sands.

The film tells how the rioting broke out and violence spread beyond the Maze.

McQueen said news coverage of Sands' hunger strike and eventual death he had seen as a child stayed with him.

Only when I re-read this thread tonight did I rem. something I haven't thought of since the time - "H-Block Radio" in 1981.

Atticus was only 7 Wink (or ok, might have been just gone into 2ndary school) when the Hunger Strikes happened. I presume it was only in the Border region that this grainy radio station appeared for the Summer - remember, these were the days before local radio, there was nothing apart from RTE, not near us anyway. It felt positively rebellious to listen to it, this Northern accent (or was it just someone from Clones?!) coming at you, talking about the Strikes, but also giving some local news, I think ... didn't feel so good when everybody was forced to close their businesses for the day of "the funeral". That was creepy... and very quiet.

Did anyone else hear this pirate station? EVM? not sure if it would've reached Meath.
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