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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Who ART Thou?

by Casey Peterson (bio)

I realize that this is the season to see and review movies. I think that release times coincide with the madness of the holidays when money is madly flying from pockets and budgets are cast by the wayside. Most of us returned to workplace discussions of what movies we saw over the holidays. This year, however, entertainment and "art" were combined with the release of Les Miserables. A certain social expectation exists for everyone to take a side on if they loved or hated it. This struggle of choice has caused me deep reflection in many areas, but mostly relating to "art."

I must preface this post by saying that I loved spending time with my wife at the movie. I loved the songs, the history, and much of the message. It was a cool movie, which I wish it could have just been. But instead, in an attempt to infuse it with "art," lines were sung that could just as well have been spoken. Movements were made that didn't have to be danced. And through it all, I realized I just don't get the art part, it detracted for me instead of helping.

I love music, and appreciate it. However, music is like caramel on ice cream for me, it has a time and place as a wonderful enhancer. I can't eat a straight diet of music, it quickly will gross me out by itself, but when judiciously used, it's awesome.

Dancing, well, that's like jalapenos on ice cream, it just doesn't work for me. The strange contortions of the body which are supposedly telling me a plot, a story, or an interpretation just don't get the message across to me. They are a stark reminder of my mission time spent in South America when gastrointestinal distress was a common companion. I've witnessed most modern dance "art" moves, but in dusty streets of pueblos, and not on an illuminated stage. My poor companions in pain rushing against the cruel clock of Mother Nature in search of bathroom facilities were not a thing of beauty, refinement, or culture. Yet the same movements, when performed by dancers on a stage in light clothing, are considered "art" and culture. If the message is so important, why can't performers just say it, post it on facebook, or spell it out. Hours watching to interpret are just too much!

I love poetry, many paintings, and music of all kinds. Movements are fine, I considered Michael Jordan in the open court, or Hakeem Olajowon in the post, or Jerry Rice on a go route to be incredibly graceful and inspiring. I'm inspired by the BYU Young Ambassadors doing cultural dances, and enjoyed watching Argentines dance the tango. Yet please don't force art upon me, by singing what should be said, making my guess your story by watching you jump around, or acting who you're not while dressed in crazy costumes, all in the name of art.

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