30 July 2020

Lazy-Eyed Link Sausage Platter

As in "too lazy to look past subculturally determined first impressions."

  • The nonrecorded performance arts have been in crisis for decades, but at least now they're admitting it. Sort of, ranging from classical music to ballet to every other artform. Only "sort of" because so many forms, like "legitimate theatre," are busy pretending that it's just The Virus.

    The underlying problem is that the nonrecorded performance arts are a top-down structure, almost entirely dependent upon what the cohorts with money to be patrons want… or, at least, what the managers (and parasites) who actually interact with those whose lives are in the arts think those cohorts want (and those managers and parasites are, themselves, far too often scions of those cohorts). And in their tiny little brains, that means almost exclusively those who look like members of those cohorts. (Well, at least somewhat idealized.) And talk like them. And come from socioeconomic backgrounds not too unlike what those cohorts imagine to be "moderately successful."

    What almost nobody is asking, though, is what the arts might look like if talent and preference were the only gatekeepers; that there was no presumption that family money will help lowly apprentices (a disturbing concept in itself with no baggage, just a trailer parked out back), and find alternative lives for the inevitable not-quite-good-enoughs or career-ended-by-tragic-accidents or became-ill-and-had-to-quits or just-plain-lost-interests. That's the real problem, and it's one that a "New Deal for the Arts" cannot reach for the simple reason that the problems are beyond the conception of those with the means to address them — not a matter of insufficient facts, but of weltanschauung, of ability to assimilate those facts. Or, perhaps, of willingness to assimilate those facts; because artists tend to breed both revolutionaries and revolutions, and that's not something that the cohorts with the resources to expend on patronage of the arts really want (some individuals proclaim that they do, and perhaps a few are serious; as a whole, not so much).

  • But, I suppose, it could be worse. As bad as the class politics (and other caste systems in the nonrecorded performance arts, and even sport) tend to be, they're seldom as overtly about power as Harvey Weinstein and… no, it wasn't just sexual harassment and mistreatment, it was rape.

    This was a settlement that involved attorneys at some of the biggest law firms in America, plus sophisticated insurers, plus the top law enforcement official in New York, and it couldn't even get past the preliminary stage of a judge's review. In short, an army of lawyers got together in an effort to achieve resolution, and after dozens of in-person mediation sessions and hundreds of phone calls, they ended up at a place that was completely off track.

    Eriq Gardner, How an Army of Lawyers Messed Up a Deal to Compensate Weinstein Victims, Hollywood Reporter (17 Jul. 2020) (italics in original, boldface added).

    I must respectfully disagree with Mr Gardner on one aspect, though: Failure to fully resolve even this subset of Weinstein's decades of misconduct was inevitable once the insurers were at the negotiating table. The for-profit insurance industry's interests are not aligned with actually resolving disputes; the biggest hint, as stated elsewhere in the same article, was that Weinstein would not be admitting any fault or liability whatsoever. That's not just his ego, although his ego (and narcissism) would probably have been sufficient; that's the insurance meme, to cut off any future similar claim against that or any similarly situated defendant by forcing that claim to start from zero. Even a meritorious — even an indisputable — claim. Sure, it's profitable for the insurer, and for the lawyers; it does not, however, resolve the dispute, as the Ninth Circuit implied today (PDF).

  • Invisibility, too, is a problem. Unrecognized symptoms and unrecognized conditions have consequences.
  • Meanwhile, Portland. Inconsistent with the law of armed conflict… and remember, that's primarily about civilized treatment of the declared enemy, and last time I checked Portland was still part of the Union (unlike, say, Mississippi in the early 1860s — and perhaps today). What Would John Lewis Say?
  • One thing I can be pretty sure John Lewis wouldn't say: That alien reptilians are running parts of our government (he knew that all of the snakes are, sadly, fully human and filled only with earth-origin DNA, not one bit of dream-demon sperm involved). One wonders why medical licensing authorities don't pay attention when doctors go antiscience… almost as much as one wonders why legal licensing authorities don't pay attention to "lawyers" spouting authoritarian bullshit that is fundamentally inconsistent with the rule of law.