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November 05, 2002

Moratoria Dreams

Friedrich --

It occurs to me that many fields could use the occasional imposed-from-without break from habit. It might freshen them up, or make them dig a little deeper. Baseball, for instance: wouldn't you be curious to see the consequences of a moratorium on spitting and crotch-scratching?

So why not at least dream of imposing moratoria on cultural fields? Here are some of my proposals:

  • Magazine journalism: a month every year with no puns allowed in either headlines or picture captions.
  • Standup comedy: a week every month with no use of the word "motherfucker."
  • Literary fiction: one season a year without any mention of incest.
  • Television: a day a week with no twirling or spinning graphics.
  • Movies: a summer a decade entirely without special effects.
  • Indie comic books: a onetime year-long ban on stories about slackers with bad sex lives.
  • Advertising: a month every year with all type to be set in traditional serif typefaces of uniform size, and with typeface-movement forbidden.
  • Gallery art: every other season to feature no installation or conceptual art, or anything of any kind involving video.
  • Highbrow criticism: the words "formal rigor" and "transgressive" to be banned forever.

What kinds of cultural-field moratoria would you impose, if only you were king?



posted by Michael at November 5, 2002


Let me queue up the Beach Boys "Wouldn't it be nice" and throw out a couple:

*Every eight years, a major election where all the candidates were forced to discuss the issues, what policies they intend to pursue and implement, and how they would spend the budget, rather than offer bs "character" and "moral" issues.

*A week of radio each month where all the new singles were played regardless of the genre (except obscene rap), artist names were given, and commercials were kept to only 10 minutes of each listening hour. (In other words, like the early days of FM or the AM of the 70s.)

However, this one:

*Movies: a summer a decade entirely without special effects.

Is just snobbery, don't you think? Wishing for a summer movie season where special effects were not used is like wishing we were back with tinny, crackling, mono 78 rpm singles when we could have full stereo, album-length concept albums. Even "little" films like "About a Boy" and films that don't seem to have special effects at all, like France's "Amelie," commonly have special effects in them. Can you remember the last film you saw that didn't contain a single special effect?

Posted by: Yahmdallah on November 5, 2002 10:46 AM

Ah, for a few days of the kind of radio you're describing... Great one.

And you're absolutely right that I'm being snobbish about summer movies and special effects. Still, I do remember fondly the pre-"Jaws" days, before the establishment of the summer-movie (ie., special effects) ritual. And I wouldn't mind seeing what filmmakers would come up to entertain us with if challenged to do so with the help of special effects.

I can dream, can't I?

Thanks for stopping by.

Posted by: Michael on November 5, 2002 11:43 AM

As King in the Advertising Realm: One NFL Football Sunday per Month Where There is No Background Music Written For and Performed By People Too Young to Buy Your Product. (c.f., Coors Light).

Posted by: Scott Chaffin on November 5, 2002 9:51 PM

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