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The Valley is not the culture club

By | February 01, 2012 | Opinion, Top Opinion Story

Maddie Shannon

Bridesmaids is a terrible movie.

Despite my being an SNL fan, I thoroughly disliked Kristin Wiig’s screenplay — I thought it was one of the most obnoxious movies I’ve ever seen. Although I didn’t like it, it was nominated for three People’s Choice Awards, two Academy Awards, two Screen Actor’s Guild Awards and two Golden Globes.

Although it’s only won one award thus far (Favorite Comedy Movie at People’s Choice), I was surprised it was even nominated at all. But then I looked at the amount of nominations it received for the People’s Choice Awards — three, more than the number of nominations received for any of the other awards shows — and I realized that, indeed, the people have spoken.

The general public has actively demonstrated that we, as a society, are not interested in what really makes a good movie. What we are interested in, however, is pop culture, dumbed-down style. We are not interested in anything that might actually constitute culture in its own right, especially around here.

Locally, we’ve demonstrated that by the amount of our own regional culture that we’ve just let go. The Fresno Metropolitan Museum, which closed two years ago, went the way of regional interest in William Saroyan, locally owned restaurants and The Carnegie Library — we just lost it.

Now, instead of a Valley full of people who appreciate culture, regional or any other kind, we’ve got an empty building on Van Ness, molding papers in a warehouse (the rest of William Saroyan’s things are at libraries and museums in other parts of the state), and a parking lot in what is now a ghetto part of the city. What did we do to ourselves that made us give up not only our cultural standards, but also culture itself?

To propose bringing back Saroyan’s stuff and reopening the museum would be missing the point. It’s the people in this Valley who have made Fresno what it is. Although we still have the Fresno Art Museum, Fresno Filmworks and ArtHop, it’s only a matter of time before what little regional culture we have left to enjoy is gone as well, if the people who live here keep the attitude we have toward what we have.

The same idea persists outside the Valley, as well (hence Bridesmaids being as popular as it is). Until there’s a fundamental change in the way we think as a city, and as a nation, not only will Fresno lose what little we have left, but it’s only a matter of time until movies like Bridesmaids are all that’s left to nominate come awards-show season.

 

Maddie Shannon is a former arts & entertainment editor for The Collegian who now writes a fortnightly column for The Collegian.

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3 Responses to The Valley is not the culture club

  1. Philosotroll says:

    I’m shocked that anyone who has worked in Arts and Entertainment would find the lack of interest in culture shocking. Fresno has almost a 27% illiteracy rate and while that numbers likely far lower for members of the student body at State (though I have my doubts sometimes) the general culture of apathy is still normative.

    Even the “high end” of contemporary culture (setting aside ignorance of history) is largely ignored not by people in our age group, but by the nation at large. We’ve traded Werner Herzog for Michael Bay; we’ve traded John Butler and Ben Harper for Taylor Swift and Kelli Pickler. *cue Taylor Swift fans telling me I’m a moron*

    It is worth pointing out, though, that the media doesn’t help this. We’re in a constant cycle of “We’re just reporting what people want to talk about; we’re just reporting what they’re going to see.” Instead of talking about movies that you find shallow and tawdry, why not write a report that makes some note of something really cool and obscure that college students could find? Props to Maddie, I think, for mentioning William Saroyan’s former exhibits in Fresno; that’s a great place to start, given that he’s an icon of the culture that the valley itself can generate.

    That said, I liked Bridesmaids. But if you didn’t, if you thought it was shallow and weak and poorly written, maybe compare it to something recent that blew your mind. That way, instead of students feeling guilty that they’ve never been to the opera, and don’t much care for the idea, they have something exciting to try that might open their minds.

    For what its worth, since I mentioned Herzog, Into the Abyss was amazing. Also, John Butler Trio’s new album April Uprising is well worth a listen. The single Revolution is available on youtube.

  2. joshua4234 says:

    I’m sorry but I won’t be quite as nice Philoso. So you don’t like Bridesmaids, big woop. Many people enjoy that type of humor and were refreshed that there was a comedy written by women with mostly a cast of women that isn’t the same ol crap like Sex in the City or something with queen latifah. Ohhh the shock that a movie that doesn’t fit your personal tastes could win awards. What is the world coming to!

    And I’m absolutely disgusted by the arrogance and self-righteousness by people who completely look down on other people who happen to have different interests and imply they have no culture. Sometimes interests change and, especially in a slow economy, not everyone wants to go spend time and money going to an opera or going to galleries or ‘appreciating’ old things snobs tell them they should.

    Also we have the internet now. We have different forms of art and expression. We have virtually any music we want at our fingertips. We have hundreds of thousands of youtubers creating different media content daily ranging from news, to comedy, to drama, to absurdity. You’re living a new world where people like me don’t need people like you to tell me what’s good culture. Times change. When people stopped wearing zoot suits and dancing in warehouses to jazz, I’m sure there were just as many pompous people pining for the past.

  3. Eduardo Cisneros says:

    Do not knock the Valley
    To make a judgment of the fine art and culture in Fresno based by what the nation chooses in popular media is a poor comparison. It is like comparing a bicycle to car and even though similarities exist; there are major difference in these two modes of transportation and their outputs users appreciate differently.
    When you refer to the Valley, I automatically think of Fresno, being we are the biggest city in the Valley and am an agricultural powerhouse. And, how Fresno expresses itself is accumulation of life experience of the surrounding cities and rural communities reaching this epicenter. The valley is young and techno savvy. Point being, to knock the Valley is to knock Fresno and vice-versa.
    Residents should remember the loss of the Fresno Metropolitan Museum was not the because the populous fell out of love, but more to do with some poor spending decisions of an over the top expansion, a story that has been played out many times in Fresno. Even though visually Fresno lost a large venue and a large collection, between Downtown Fresno and Tower Districts there are 36 art venues that coordinate with Art Hop. In my opinion, that is still a lot of art.
    As I have searched for art in Fresno and become a participant in the scene, I see so much evolution in expression. Yes, you did mention Art Hop and Fresno Film Works but do not forget Rouge Festival, one of the biggest local performing art festivals west of the Mississippi and is in its 10th year of running. Oh, and do not forget about PechaKucha, which has gone through 13 volumes in Fresno and is PowerPoint for the creative class – to know it is to experience it. Who attends the venues that make them succeed? The general public you fear will eventually leave.
    The Mural District in Downtown Fresno (the area in which you referred to as in “the ghetto”) is for the most one of the best places to experience urban art. The environment is a testament to outside art and is an incubator for culture and creativity; maybe if people got out of their cars and walked the street, they might not miss it. The Mural District is Fresno’s culture on display but you somehow missed the biggest pieces of Art in Fresno.
    Fresno is not losing, it is gaining, and its time you took off the blinder because Fresno is still making Fresno!

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