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Recently, a colleague and I were talking about television shows we watched, particularly the ones stigmatized as “bad,” “junk,” and “garbage.” She threw in a few suggestions, none of which I thought were particularly terrible – a few sitcoms and reality shows. Finally, I said, “well, I watch wrestling,” to which, she replied, “you win.” This response is not unfamiliar. As somebody who regularly watches wrestling, my fandom is frequently approached with raised eyebrows, “seriouslys,” and the inevitable “you know it’s fake, right?”

More… “Spandex Ballet”

Melinda Lewis has a PhD in American Culture Studies. She knows more celebrity gossip than basic math and watches too much television.

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Or, to be more correct, I rediscovered it. Between the ages of five and 12, candy was all I thought about. I couldn’t walk into a drugstore or a supermarket without being attacked by longing. The game Candy Land had a visceral attraction for me: just looking at the board would make me dizzy with desire. I was enamored of the word “gumdrop.” It had an enticing ring that helped me, later, understand the idea of Platonic forms: No actual gumdrop ever approximated the sublime delight the word evoked.

Despite such intense associations, candy reigned for less than a decade in my life. Fearful of acne and obesity, I trained myself to wait for dessert, that more mannered way of delivering sugar by being confined to the end of a meal. Learning to like the attenuated sweetness of dessert was the brand of civilization and propriety, a tarte tatin being… More…

 

Criticism isn’t powerful anymore. It doesn’t drive anything, it doesn’t define what is good and bad in culture. Surely this has mostly to do with all the changes in the media landscape over the last few decades. Basically, culture has been democratized. It has been flattened out and multiplied. There are no longer real distinctions between high and low. There’s just more.

The word criticism has its root in the Greek word krinein, which means — in its most original sense — to divide or separate. It’s about sorting things out and making distinctions. Criticism is thus about doing something that is, in this era, almost impossible to do. It is difficult simply to keep up with the vast global cultural output, let alone to make determinations and judgments.

So the critic lives in terror and humiliation, without… More…

I meant to visit a string of smaller art fairs along Collins Avenue and ended up spending the afternoon lounging on a $14 million yacht outside a $14 million home on Hibiscus Island instead. These things happen in Miami. The wealth, to its credit, is more of a “Why not?” kind of wealth than is generally found further up North. We were driven to the yacht and the mansion in a Bentley, which must constitute some form of Art Fair trifecta.

   2007 Art Basel Miami

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It ended up being a useful excursion for our purposes, though, because my Aunt Lou Ann was there and she said something brilliant. I told of her of my aesthetic difficulties at the fair and I confided in her my fear of the… More…