Life and the Arts

A reflection on life and the arts from a progressive perspective. Here you will find social commentary on movies, the performing arts, issues of cultural significance and life in general.

The Age-Old Question: What's Better for You, Coffee or Tea?

Picture credit: E News Singapore Larry Schwartz - It’s an age-old question: What’s better for you, coffee or tea? Even back in the 18th century, inquiring minds wanted to know. King Gustav III of Sweden, being of the belief that coffee was poisonous, devised an interesting experiment to answer the question definitively. He found two identical twins in prison, both sentenced to death for crimes they had committed. Gustav III commuted their sentences to mere life imprisonment (which was no picnic either, given prison conditions...

The Illegal Drug that Could Help Ease Anxiety About Death

Picture credit: Animal New York April M. Short - Phil Wolfson is a psychotherapist who lost his 16-year-old son to leukemia more than three decades ago. He wrote the book Noe: A Father-Son Song of Life, Love, Illness and Death about the experience of watching his son navigate adolescence while succombing to the terminal disease. His personal experiences, he says, place him in a strange position of “too much knowledge” when he works with patients who are dealing with devastating loss, as well as anxiety and PTSD symptoms that...

Black Actors and Filmmakers Face Enormous Obstacles in South Africa

Picture credit: The cast of Generations. Image courtesy of Facebook.com/GenerationsTVShow Anna Majavu - The imminent screening of the new look Generations TV series, which has been off the air since its producer fired the cast last month, should sound an ominous knell for every Black creative in South Africa. The 16 fired actors held talks at the CCMA last week with MMSV, the production house owned by Mfundi Vundla who axed the actors after they went on strike for residual payments (which they should have been getting all along), and for three year contracts (which were promised to them by...

Banksy: Graffitist of the White Bourgeoisie

Picture credit: A photo of graffiti by artist Banksy that appeared on Tendring District Council Arianne Shahvisi - Middle-class outrage at the recent removal of Banksy's graffiti in an area of poverty and racial tension indicates how disconnected the bourgeoisie are from the realities of working-class life in Britain, and is an example of the appropriation of subversive art forms by the elite. At the start of October 2014, UK graffiti artist Banksy's "anti-racist" stencil graffiti, presumably designed to satirize rising xenophobic sentiments in UK seaside town Clacton-on-sea, was...

Apolitical Humour? The Comedy of Joan Rivers

Picture credit: Joan Rivers courtesy djnaquin67/flickr Binoy Kampmark - They [the Palestinians] started it.  We now don’t count who’s dead.  You’re dead.  You deserve to be dead.  You started it.  Don’t you dare make me feel sad about that. – Joan Rivers, Daily Mail, Aug 8, 2014 The politics of the body, those irreverent observations about her vagina, and, well, everything else associated with the district of flesh – that was something Joan Rivers was rather good at.  She made fun of her own...

Kim Kardashian: A Fitting Symbol for Late-Stage American-Style Capitalism

Picture credit: Kim Kardashian courtesy Hot Gossip Italia/flickr Lynn Parramore - Whether she is Instagramming her butt, or spending $827,000 on gold-plated toilets for her new mansion, or in her latest exploit, posing nude on silver sheets for GQ, Kim Kardashian has the American media in a fawning frenzy of non-stop headlines. Her body! “Kim Kardashian Flaunts Cleavage In Leather Dress For Made In America” (Hollywood Life) Her money! “Kim Kardashian's $28 Million Year: How She Made More Than Ever Before” (Forbes) Her fame!...