Tag Archives: beth michelle

Bob Marley (b. 6 February 1946): still a legend

6 Feb

Guest post, Chicago cinéaste Beth Michelle: 

old-marley

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Robert Nesta Marley, if he had survived the cancerous melanoma that claimed his life at the age of 31, would have been 70 years old today on February 6th. With that in mind, it’s a good time to look back at the profound influence he had on popular culture, as well as the spiritual and political zeitgeist of our time. Bob Marley was much more than a famous pop star with enviable record sales. He stood for Rastafarian ideals, promoting intercultural unity and harmony among races. As such, it’s important to look at his considerable achievements independent of the commercialism that distorts his legacy today.

standup-marley

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Marley grew up in a tumultuous time in Jamaican history. When he was a child, the country was still under heavy-handed British rule. This era witnessed tremendous exploitation of Jamaican natural resources for British profit. Full independence for Jamaica, which finally arrived in 1963, only plunged the emerging nation into another difficult period in its young history. Years later, in songs like “Africa Unite” and “Get Up, Stand Up,” Marley expressed the desires and yearnings of colonized people, and the fighting spirit that was instilled in him at an early age.

Marley, who was raised by his mother, didn’t have an easy childhood, yet friends and family remember him as relentlessly cheerful and positive. He worked many odd jobs in his teenage years and young adulthood, such as welder and factory worker, but wasn’t depressed or embittered. Music was always a source of comfort and solace. In 1963, when Marley met fellow musicians Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, the iconic band “Bob Marley and Wailers” was born.

no$$-marley

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Yet despite the remarkable success of his band, Marley was truly a man in love with life, not material possessions. He recounted some of the happiest periods of his life as being before his stardom, when he was living simply off the land with his family. Once he became successful, he was extremely generous with family and friends. Marley’s actions were motivated by music and spiritual teachings, not financial power.

Long before he became an international superstar, Marley was renowned for his musical gifts and captivating stage presence. He was widely popular in Jamaica for many years as a songwriter and performer before he released music internationally through Island Records. Once he and the Wailers became international stars, he was a formative influence on many English and American musicians, spanning cultures and generations. Sting, Carlos Santana, Joe Strummer of The Clash, John Densmore of The Doors and many others have spoken about how much Marley has meant to them musically. Eric Clapton’s popular cover of “I Shot the Sheriff” also speaks to the transferability of his music.

onelove-marley

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However, striving to be more than just a musician, Marley made great contributions to the intellectual life of 60s and 70s counterculture. Songs like “Get Up Stand Up,” expressed profound dissatisfaction with the structural inequality perpetuated by the establishment. Beyond that, Marley’s words served as a call to a broader intellectual independence. “One Love” is a song that calls for humanity to come together, independent of leaders and nationalism in a true spirit of unity.

Marley’s Rastafarian belief system was a big part of who he was as an artist. He used ganja for spiritual reasons, not merely recreational, incorporating personal discoveries into his artistic oeuvre. He believed in African unity as advocated by Emperor Haille Selassie of Ethiopia, and beyond that, the unity of all mankind.

smokin-marley

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Many aspects of Marley’s legacy have come under scrutiny in recent years. While his music continues to stand alone, his image has been largely absorbed and neutralized by the establishment he once railed against. Unwilling to sign a Last Will and Testament due to his Rastafarian beliefs, holders of his estate have been able to co-opt his celebrity and use it to peddle everything from screen-printed T-shirts to cannabis-infused lip balm. The power of his intellectual ideas – beliefs in the spiritual components of ganja, unity among people, and independence from exploitation – has been largely repackaged as a “feel good” commodity, which any consumer may purchase for a price.

guitar-marley

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There is hope, however, that Marley’s music will outshine the tarnished image of his celebrity. His son Ziggy continues to perform his father’s reggae music along with his own, recently  performing live on DirecTV’s Guitar Center Sessions, and continuing to tour. Never fading from popularity, the Marley reggae sound was popularized again with the resurgence of ska in the 90s, and has been incorporated into elements of today’s hip hop and rap beats. And of course, Marley’s original music remains as beloved today as when it was first released.

At this point in our society, it’s nearly impossible to find an art form that has not been touched by commercialization. While there has been a clear exploitation of the “Rasta” culture as well as Marley’s own easily recognizable visage by mainstream music elite, components of the Rastafarian religion remain embedded in the core of his work. Marley’s music will forever be a voice for the poor and oppressed, spreading messages of universal love and unity.

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Beth_KellyBeth Michelle is a Chicago-based blogger with a nasty film addiction. Her primary interests include pulp cinema, fashion photography and vintage Japanese film cameras.

David Foster Wallace, the man beneath the bandanna…

17 Oct

wallaceDavid Foster Wallace, the man beneath the bandanna…

Chronicling the life of the late author David Foster Wallace, biopic The End of the Tour follows the writer and Rolling Stone journalist David Lipsky as they take a road trip shortly after the release of Infinite Jest in 1996. Starring Jason Segel as Wallace and Jesse Eisenberg as Lipsky, director James Ponsoldt successfully portrays the relationship between two writers as we simultaneously learn about the inner workings of Wallace’s mind.  

davidfosterwallace3Wallace suffered from serious mental illness, anxiety, and depression for much of his life. His writing was a mix of styles – heavily used made-up jargon, footnotes, and endnotes, which he has said was the only way he could reflect the way he perceived reality. His work was often challenging and complicated for readers, but he believed a writer’s job was to remind readers of just how smart they are. Wallace also often used irony and satire in his writings and felt that these two elements, while offering entertainment, were going to vex a generation of writers. His stories often dealt with post-modernism and our ever-growing consumer appetites.

Given his personal outlook on things such as fame and stardom, it is unlikely that Wallace would have found solace in a film about him and his life. The author would likely have seen it as an ill-fated attempt to cash in on a ‘literary stardom’ that he didn’t see himself having.

fosterhologram1The film shows several sides of Wallace’s mental illness, and while this wasn’t portrayed poorly, his family and friends feel David should be known for more than this. They also feel that Wallace would have taken issue with an interview from 18 years ago being repurposed as a major motion picture. His consent was explicitly for a Rolling Stone interview, not a major film production or any other medium. As The End of the Tour is based on Lipsky’s book, there has been little that the Wallace estate has been able to do about the film.

That said, Segel’s performance as Wallace has been highly praised, and while no one can say for sure that it was accurate, it was certainly an ambitious and in-depth portrayal. It has also been said that Eisenberg as Lipsky nailed the representation of an entire profession. Little quirks like checking to see if the red light on his recorder was on accurately mimicked the mannerisms of a journalist. Additionally, the intimacy between Segel and Eisenberg, as Wallace and Lipsky, is memorable and engaging.

wallace (1)The End of the Tour was first released at the Sundance Film Festival in January of this year when A24 Films and DirecTV picked up distribution rights to the film. It was then set for a theatrical release in July and gained universal acclaim. Although those close to him may not have found this film the most accurate portrayal of his life as a whole, it still deserves recognition for its stunning performances and strong attempt to peer into the life of a legendary author.

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Beth_KellyWriter Beth Michelle is a Chicago-based blogger with a nasty film addiction. Her primary interests include pulp cinema, fashion photography and vintage Japanese film cameras.

 

Amy: a review of the Winehouse documentary

10 Sep

amy paintingWhen six-time Grammy winner Amy Winehouse passed away in July 2011, most attributed her rapid decline to the destructive nature of international fame. Magazine and news reporters descended on her personal struggle (with drugs, alcohol and bulimia) like a flock of vultures. Watching her burn the crack pipe at both ends became its own depraved carnival of affairs – a self-sabotage in slow motion. And while many were unable to see the real Amy through the media-censored lens, there is now a film that looks beneath the heavy kohl eyeliner and demented beehive hairdo…

Amy, out this year from the somewhat offbeat pairing of art house production studio A24 and DirecTV, does what it can to reveal the “real” Amy Winehouse – as she was to those who loved her most dearly. Directed by Asif Kapadia, the film tells the full Winehouse story, beyond the scope of the tabloids. Although he takes care not to leave those parts out either, Kapadia also endeavors to humanize his subject. Coming to understand the other chapters of her life is crucial if one is to gain a proper picture of her demise.

Asif-Kapadia-006Through archived footage of Winehouse from her early teens through to her death, and statements collected from more than 100 interviews conducted with family, friends and coworkers, Kapadia shows a more complete picture of Winehouse as a creative, sensitive and artistic soul. Her love of music truly surpassed her love of fame.

While Kapadia stands by his final product, Amy has her critics, most notably her own father, who felt that Kapadia misrepresented his statements and intentions toward his daughter. Kapadia maintains that he could not rewrite parts of Winehouse’s life to make it seem more “pleasant” regardless of how much he would have liked to. Instead, he felt it was more important to accurately represent all those involved, using their own words whenever possible.

mark ronsonOne of the strongest proponents of the Amy film has been Mark Ronson, the producer of her highly-successful pop soul album Back to Black. Ronson was heavily involved in providing both footage and interview material for the documentary, and he has spoken of his satisfaction with the final product. A major force in the UK music industry, Ronson expressed in the film his own affinity both for Amy and her prodigious musical gifts.

While it ultimately serves as a reminder as to why she achieved such remarkable fame in the first place, it also shows the fact that attaining international notoriety was something she was never interested in to begin with. Becoming known on a worldwide scale was something she neither valued nor chased, and it’s easy to see how the hollow business of fame can fuel the smallest inclinations towards self-destruction.

amy guitarMany may find it hard not to compare her life and struggles with other artists who led similarly conflicted lives, faced similar issues in the limelight, and had documentaries made following their deaths. Winehouse is in good company among other members of the infamous “Club 27,” a group of talented celebrities who did not live to see past their 27th year. Perhaps the most notable among these comparisons is Kurt Cobain, who was the star of another recently released documentary, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck. Like Winehouse, Cobain struggled with fame and his “media image”, a fight that eventually drove him to take his own life in 1994.

In the end, Amy stands as a successful true-to-life tribute to the incredible talent and potential that died with Winehouse when she passed away much too soon. It also stands as a testament to the power of the media, touching on the unhealthy obsessions we have with those in the public eye. Like lambs to the slaughter, fame can indeed be a double-edged sword – one that will cut down many who wield it.

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Beth_KellyBeth Michelle is a Chicago-based blogger with a nasty film addiction. Her primary interests include pulp cinema, fashion photography and vintage Japanese film cameras.

 

E/M Waves – an invisible menace?

15 Jul

E/M Waves – an invisible menace? 

(Guest post by Chicago blogger Beth Michelle) 

As mobile phones spread ever further throughout the world and the “Internet of Things” comes to fruition, we’re being bombarded by more electromagnetic waves than previous generations would have been able to credit. Although the manufacturers of sophisticated devices assure us of their safety, we would do well to be skeptical of their claims. After all, the tobacco industry made similar pronouncements, which turned out to be false, for many decades before anybody realized the actual truth.emwavec

Electromagnetic radiation (EMR) refers to a type of energy possessing electrical and magnetic properties. Many of the sources of this radiation are natural – indeed, the light we get from the sun is a type of EMR. However, there are plenty of artificial sources of EMR, such as radio transmissions, television broadcasts, cell phone signals, power lines and X-ray machines.

The signals produced by modern electronic equipment are non-ionizing radiation, which means that they’re not strong enough to break chemical bonds between atoms. This is in contrast to dangerous nuclear radiation, for example, which can certainly disrupt chemical compounds within the human body. However, there may be other dangers inherent in prolonged exposure to EMR.

Our bodies have their own electrical and magnetic processes, many of which are not fully understood. It’s currently unknown what effect, if any, EM radiation has on these bodily systems. Because the devices that release these emissions have, in many cases, been around for only the past decade or two, there hasn’t been enough time for comprehensive, long-term scientific studies. There are nevertheless some indications that caution may be in order.

cell-phone-baby-CROPIn 1989, a study in Denver found that children living close to electrical distribution wires were at an increased risk of cancer, and these results were replicated by other researchers.

In 2007, a panel looked over the results of thousands of studies on the effects of EMR. They concluded that “chronic exposure” to this type of radiation is associated in some cases with health risks, including skin rashes, Alzheimer’s disease, headaches and tinnitus. The International Agency for Research on Cancer categorized wireless radiation as a potential carcinogen in 2011.

There are safety standards that the manufacturers of electronic equipment and power utility firms must adhere to. It is unknown how reliable these safeguards are, unfortunately, because the FCC and other regulatory bodies have no more idea of the true dangers of EMR than anyone else does, and have done little to stay up to date.

It may be the case that some of the limits are set too high and that they permit emissions to reach a dangerous level. They also don’t cover the fact that we’re exposed to a multitude of devices that emit EMR every day, often many at the same time. Cell phones, home security systems and even your hair dryer all emit this type of radiation, increasing our exposure tenfold given our dependence on all things electrical.

Despite the fact that more research is desperately needed on this topic in order to find out the truth, scientific progress has been slow. It may be the case that this is due to the fact that equipment manufacturers have no financial interest in pursuing this matter but every possible reason to keep things the way they are.

If it turns out that EMR is harmful to people, then many firms will have to change the way their devices operate. The economic pain will probably not be as bad as some people fear because there are probably currently-unexplored ways of reducing emissions that don’t cost too much. A useful analogy may be environmental regulations, which were initially lambasted by business people as being too expensive to comply with. Over the years, as new methods of production were discovered, companies learned how they could act in a green way without spending a fortune.

heads in sandThe longer the subject of harm from EMR goes without a resolution, the worse it will be if negative effects are eventually found. By acting now to get the answers the public deserves, governments, corporations and other entities could spare themselves a lot of future pain. As it is in most cases, it’s better to learn the truth about EMR and face the consequences now than bury our heads in the sand and just hope for the best.

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Beth_KellyBeth Michelle is a Chicago-based blogger with a nasty film addiction. Her primary interests include pulp cinema, fashion photography and vintage Japanese film cameras.

 

 

Carbon Chaos: images of climate change in cinema

8 Jun

Carbon Chaos: images of climate change in cinema 

(Guest post by Chicago blogger Beth Michelle) 

Unless the economics of energy change drastically in coming years, we’re poised to find our planetary home both uninhabitable and unrecognizable as oceans rise and the atmosphere absorbs greater levels of carbon dioxide. This fact, however regrettable, has not been lost on Hollywood. While the industry itself might be somewhat hypocritical when it comes to taking action, man’s complicated relationship with the natural world has long been a topic in the sphere of cinema. At this pivotal time in the discussion of climate change, using the power of movies to better show the plight of the planet is crucial. Here are five films that present strong pro-environmental themes.


Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
(1986)

star_trek_iv_1986The exiled crew of the USS Enterprise returns to Earth in 2286 to find that an alien probe is disrupting the weather and power grids. Spock discovers that the probe is attempting to communicate with the now-extinct humpback whale, and the director of an aquarium in 1986 California may be their only hope to restore order. That the inevitable destruction of the planet is tied to the extinction of one of its most majestic creatures is no accident. Whaling has been outlawed in most oceans, but some countries persist in hunting down creatures whose extinction would have a lasting effect on enormous ecosystems.


Planet of the Apes
(1968)

planet of apesIt’s impossible to talk about this film’s environmental perspective without spoiling the ending, so if you’re one of the few who hasn’t seen it, skip to the next entry. An astronaut played by Charlton Heston crashes on what he believes to be an unknown planet ruled by apes, but it’s eventually revealed that he’s actually on Earth, with the planet having been radically changed by nuclear war in his absence. The movie posits the idea that even if we survive a nuclear holocaust, we may no longer be the dominant species. Indeed, the humans in the film are subjugated and enslaved by apes which have evolved the power of speech. In a future era, when our planet has gone on without us, who will be at the top of the food chain?


Soylent Green
(1973)

soylent greenAnother Heston sci-fi classic that jumps into the future, the world of Soylent Green is a chaotic one. Overcrowding has led to people being packed into buildings like sardines, trees and clean water are very limited and expensive resources, and of course there’s no food aside from that manufactured by the Soylent Corporation (the less said about its contents, the better). The greenhouse effect has taken over the world due to rampant pollution and consumption of energy. An interesting thing to note is the absence of any sort of recycling program for garbage – they weren’t in place yet when the film was released, and the film manages to act as a critique in favor of a program that had yet to be implemented. “Food” for thought.


Logan’s Run
(1976)

logans runThis futuristic action flick gives us a similar scenario to Soylent, only the powers that be have worked out a nifty solution to the planet’s overcrowding – kill everyone when they turn 30. Logan’s job is to locate a colony of “runners”, or those who have successfully escaped their fate. Given the abuse of power and lack of respect for human life we’ve seen by leaders throughout history, this horrifying premise could be possible if overcrowding becomes a problem and world governments continue to consolidate their power. Perhaps one of the “biggest unspoken issues” on today’s political agenda, it’s a matter that will become increasingly pressing – literally and figuratively – if we continue to ignore it.  


Mad Max 2 – The Road Warrior
 (1981)

mad max 2 the-road-warriorLike all the Mad Max films, this one takes place in a future where oil shortages have brought about a gigantic, resource-guzzling world war. In this post-apocalyptic world, the price of fuel is at a premium, and those who control it wield the most power – as Max quickly finds when he crosses paths with the barbaric Lord Humungus. Of course, as anyone on the side of science will tell you, the movie’s premise isn’t outside the realm of possibility – even the most optimistic energy providers predict that the Earth will be depleted of oil in less than a century. While the ending of Road Warrior leaves us with few answers as to the ultimate fate of our planet, it’s clear that a smarter, greener approach to fuel is needed immediately.

The dystopian futures in these films may seem outlandish, but they are all based around the very real problems that have arisen as a result of an exploding population, worsening pollution, oil depletion, and rampant deforestation. Even as we race to develop renewable resources, it’s still not too late to commit to other programs which will help preserve the planet for future generations.

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Beth_KellyBeth Michelle is a Chicago-based blogger with a nasty film addiction. Her primary interests include pulp cinema, fashion photography and vintage Japanese film cameras.

 

Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson: Who’s the real King of the Cosmos?

3 Apr

Guest post: Chicago blogger Beth Michelle

cosmos

They started and ended in the same place: born in New York a generation apart, astronomers Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson would both go on to host a show called Cosmos. Sagan’s Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, aired in 1980 on PBS and broke documentary viewership records for nearly a decade; Tyson’s sequel, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, debuted in 2014 on Fox.

Their passion for knowledge and their desire to share the wonder of the universe with everyone drove both men, but their careers, personalities, and approaches are unique.

saganSagan indulged in the speculative, and he focused his career on the exploration of extraterrestrial life. He was inspired early on by the Miller-Urey experiment which sought to pinpoint the chemical origin of life on earth. After his acquaintance Stanley Miller demonstrated that amino acids, a fundamental building block of life, could have been formed by chemical reactions in Earth’s early days, Sagan became engrossed in the near-certainty of extraterrestrial life.

His seemingly outlandish ideas, from musing about possibility of life under the surface of the moon to terraforming Venus, captured the popular imagination, though they were regarded as reckless by some of his peers. Harold Urey, a part of the experiment that inspired him early on, wrote a letter to the Harvard tenure committee in 1968 expressing his concerns.

Sagan’s tendency to dream may have cost him tenure at Harvard, but he moved quickly to Cornell University, where he would consult with NASA on a life-detecting mission to Mars, and also had a hand in designing the Pioneer plaques and Voyager Golden Record, messages to any extraterrestrials those missions might encounter.

He believed that the public was more interested in and more capable of understanding science than his peers did. Just over a decade later, Cosmos appeared on PBS for the first time.

Sagan drew people to science with his sense of wonder and possibility. Tyson brings science closer to people on a cultural level, using social media to share his passion.

tysonNine-year-old Tyson’s love of the stars was ignited when he first visited the Hayden Planetarium in New York. After studying at Harvard and Columbia, he eventually went on to become director of the Planetarium. He dedicated himself to making sure inquisitive minds, like his own, would find the same enlightenment there that he had.

Tyson posts regularly to Twitter, where he (@neiltyson) has more than three million followers. He certainly engages people with interesting factoids, and he’s also at least partly responsible for one of the most popularly contentious decisions in recent astronomy: the demotion of Pluto. Most of his work focuses on stars, but his reclassification of Pluto as a dwarf planet was confirmed by the International Astronomical Union in 2006.

plutoNothing gets people riled up – gets them as engaged in astronomy – as the “debate” about Pluto’s planet-hood. Except perhaps for debates about the legitimacy of astrology — and both Sagan and Tyson have been outspoken about their disbelief.

Both men also served as advisors to NASA. He has served on two separate commissions, one in 2001 and the Moon, Mars, and Beyond commission of 2004, to guide the future of NASA’s research. In 2006 he was appointed to the Advisory Council to help NASA prioritize projects with its limited budget.

Another significant similarity is that both men publicly expressed their concern for the welfare of the environment. Sagan had published about the looming dangers of climate change in the early eighties, and Tyson has repeatedly spoken out in favor of a diversified energy market (which is the very sort of advocacy that has helped to improve Toledo gas prices and diversify renewable energy options throughout Texas).

Both Sagan and Tyson racked up plenty of accomplishments. Both were instrumental in bridging the gap between esoteric sciences and the popular imagination. They started their lives in the same place and achieved many similar things, though their methods, and their personalities, are quite different.

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Beth_KellyBeth Michelle is a Chicago-based blogger with a nasty film addiction. Her primary interests include pulp cinema, fashion photography and vintage Japanese film cameras.

Bob Marley: still a legend

6 Feb

Guest post, Chicago cinéaste Beth Michelle: 

old-marley

pinterest.com/pin/39406565465577865/

Robert Nesta Marley, if he had survived the cancerous melanoma that claimed his life at the age of 31, would have been 70 years old this year on February 6th. With that in mind, it’s a good time to look back at the profound influence he had on popular culture, as well as the spiritual and political zeitgeist of our time. Bob Marley was much more than a famous pop star with enviable record sales. He stood for Rastafarian ideals, promoting intercultural unity and harmony among races. As such, it’s important to look at his considerable achievements independent of the commercialism that distorts his legacy today.

standup-marley

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Marley grew up in a tumultuous time in Jamaican history. When he was a child, the country was still under heavy-handed British rule. This era witnessed tremendous exploitation of Jamaican natural resources for British profit. Full independence for Jamaica, which finally arrived in 1963, only plunged the emerging nation into another difficult period in its young history. Years later, in songs like “Africa Unite” and “Get Up, Stand Up,” Marley expressed the desires and yearnings of colonized people, and the fighting spirit that was instilled in him at an early age.

Marley, who was raised by his mother, didn’t have an easy childhood, yet friends and family remember him as relentlessly cheerful and positive. He worked many odd jobs in his teenage years and young adulthood, such as welder and factory worker, but wasn’t depressed or embittered. Music was always a source of comfort and solace. In 1963, when Marley met fellow musicians Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, the iconic band “Bob Marley and Wailers” was born.

no$$-marley

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Yet despite the remarkable success of his band, Marley was truly a man in love with life, not material possessions. He recounted some of the happiest periods of his life as being before his stardom, when he was living simply off the land with his family. Once he became successful, he was extremely generous with family and friends. Marley’s actions were motivated by music and spiritual teachings, not financial power.

Long before he became an international superstar, Marley was renowned for his musical gifts and captivating stage presence. He was widely popular in Jamaica for many years as a songwriter and performer before he released music internationally through Island Records. Once he and the Wailers became international stars, he was a formative influence on many English and American musicians, spanning cultures and generations. Sting, Carlos Santana, Joe Strummer of The Clash, John Densmore of The Doors and many others have spoken about how much Marley has meant to them musically. Eric Clapton’s popular cover of “I Shot the Sheriff” also speaks to the transferability of his music.

onelove-marley

pinterest.com/pin/39406565465577920/

However, striving to be more than just a musician, Marley made great contributions to the intellectual life of 60s and 70s counterculture. Songs like “Get Up Stand Up,” expressed profound dissatisfaction with the structural inequality perpetuated by the establishment. Beyond that, Marley’s words served as a call to a broader intellectual independence. “One Love” is a song that calls for humanity to come together, independent of leaders and nationalism in a true spirit of unity.

Marley’s Rastafarian belief system was a big part of who he was as an artist. He used ganja for spiritual reasons, not merely recreational, incorporating personal discoveries into his artistic oeuvre. He believed in African unity as advocated by Emperor Haille Selassie of Ethiopia, and beyond that, the unity of all mankind.

smokin-marley

pinterest.com/pin/39406565465577902/

Many aspects of Marley’s legacy have come under scrutiny in recent years. While his music continues to stand alone, his image has been largely absorbed and neutralized by the establishment he once railed against. Unwilling to sign a Last Will and Testament due to his Rastafarian beliefs, holders of his estate have been able to co-opt his celebrity and use it to peddle everything from screen-printed T-shirts to cannabis-infused lip balm. The power of his intellectual ideas – beliefs in the spiritual components of ganja, unity among people, and independence from exploitation – has been largely repackaged as a “feel good” commodity, which any consumer may purchase for a price.

guitar-marley

pinterest.com/pin/39406565465577873/

There is hope, however, that Marley’s music will outshine the tarnished image of his celebrity. His son Ziggy continues to perform his father’s reggae music along with his own, recently  performing live on DirecTV’s Guitar Center Sessions, and continuing to tour. Never fading from popularity, the Marley reggae sound was popularized again with the resurgence of ska in the 90s, and has been incorporated into elements of today’s hip hop and rap beats. And of course, Marley’s original music remains as beloved today as when it was first released.

At this point in our society, it’s nearly impossible to find an art form that has not been touched by commercialization. While there has been a clear exploitation of the “Rasta” culture as well as Marley’s own easily recognizable visage by mainstream music elite, components of the Rastafarian religion remain embedded in the core of his work. Marley’s music will forever be a voice for the poor and oppressed, spreading messages of universal love and unity.

 ~~~~~~~~~

Beth_KellyBeth Michelle is a Chicago-based blogger with a nasty film addiction. Her primary interests include pulp cinema, fashion photography and vintage Japanese film cameras.

Clive Barker: visualizing the future of horror

3 Dec

Guest post: Chicago cinéaste Beth Michelle

clive-barkerIn the horror genre, there are only a few stand-alone names – talented artists recognized by both their contemporaries and the public as undisputed masters of their craft. Among these masters, the author, illustrator and film director Clive Barker still stands alone.

Praised by Stephen King to be the “future of horror” following the release of his first major novel, Barker has the distinct ability to bring forth multidimensional, phantasmagoric horror plots from the mere kernel of a thought. Though he gives credit to a number of others for inspiration, H.P. Lovecraft and his races of demons or monsters for one, Barker has redefined the genre for himself.

hellraiser_4In 1987, Barker directed Hellraiser, a film based upon his novella The Hellbound Heart. For its time, Hellraiser is considered far grittier and gorier than its contemporaries. The story line focuses on a man who escapes from Hell and uses his sister-in-law in a hellish sexual manipulation to regain his physical form. This film demonstrated the lengths that Barker was willing to go for a story. The sexual and demonic components are beyond what most filmmakers generally cover. Artistically as well, this film stands out. The film techniques, as well as the costuming aspects, created a deliberately gritty and dark effect.

nightbreedNightbreed, released in 1990, is based upon Barker’s novella Cabal. Delving into the mind of mental patient Aaron Boone who is manipulated by his doctor (played by the inimitable David Cronenburg) to believe he is a serial killer, it features an impressive cast of creepy characters. After escaping from a mental institution, Boone finds refuge in a cemetery called Midian among a group of “Nightbreed” monsters and other assorted mutants hiding from the public. This film embraces the concept of the “anti-hero,” where the monsters and other creatures are really the ones being terrorized by everyday “normal” people.

candy-manTwo years later, Barker again saw another of his literary works re-interpreted for film. Staying away from the director’s chair this time, Candyman is based upon his short story The Forbidden. The ‘Candyman’ is an urban legend, and details surrounding him are fuzzy and easy to disregard until the bodies begin piling up. Thus the question arises: is the Candyman a killer, merely using the urban legend as cover? Or has a belief in the Candyman created the evil independently? If enough people believe in a thing, does that make it real..? Candyman is a remarkably compelling horror film that has aged quite well. Furthermore, it was shot so masterfully, it looks terrific in almost any format, whether you catch it online or on TV (Netflix or Direct TV) or even the recently released special edition DVD.

hellraiser_3For the character of “Pinhead”, and the idea of the Cenobites, a race of demons that Barker introduced in Hellraiser, Barker took inspiration from an unlikely source: Biblical texts. Pinhead is the leader of the Cenobites, essentially a cult leader of the demons, making him appear as a sort of Jesus/Devil hybrid. Barker is not afraid to touch seemingly taboo topics, if such a thing actually exists in the horror genre. He considers the issues of hell, religion, sexuality and social differences as things to be explored rather than feared. Clive Barker not only created his own horrific but brilliant works, he inspired others to follow suit.

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Beth_KellyBeth Michelle is a Chicago-based blogger with a nasty film addiction. Her primary interests include pulp cinema, fashion photography and vintage Japanese film cameras.

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