Op-Ed: On Modern Russian Culture: Part IV

Dear Readers:

Today we continue reading Lyttenburgh’s opus togther.  And with my belated apologies to Lyttenburgh for losing my self-control yesterday, when I rudely inserted my own rant into his.  In my own defense:  I have endured in stoic silence all these dreadful re-stagings of classic operas, but the murderous rage has been building up in me for a long time.  Well, what can I say, I finally exploded!  It was bound to happen, and I feel responsible in a way, that you all had to be there to witness this ugliness.

An inexcusable meltdown

On the brighter side:  What a coincidence, that Lyttenburgh addresses that very issue in today’s installment!  Which he begins with the routine mangling of yet another classic opera, in this case Wagner’s masterpiece Tannhäuser.   And, since we have been working our way down through the various levels of Hell, it transpires, that none other than our Wayward Minstrel of Love is the spark — Russians would say the iskra which set off this much-delayed firestorm.  In other words, Dear Readers, we are almost there.  Just buckle your seat-belts and hang on, the ride is still bumpy!

Hence, without further a-do or a-did, I will turn the mic back over to Lyttenburgh to continuing working us all up into a froth of righteous rage.  To be turned into a massive Army of the Embittered Philistines; and launched in the general direction against the Russian Kreakl Intelligentsia, it goes without saying.

Part IV

Operation Tannhäuser.

Неудачный спектакль
На сцену выходит Петраков-Горбунов, хочет что-то сказать, но икает. Его начинает рвать. Он уходит. Выходит Притыкин.
Притыкин: Уважаемый Петраков-Горбунов должен сооб… (Его рвет, и он убегает).
Выходит Макаров.
Макаров: Егор… (Макарова рвет. Он убегает.)
Выходит Серпухов.
Серпухов: Чтобы не быть… (Его рвет, он убегает).
Выходит Курова.
Курова: Я была бы… (Ее рвет, она убегает).
Выходит маленькая девочка.
Маленькая девочка: Папа просил передать вам всем, что «театр закрывается. Нас всех тошнит.»
– Даниил Хармс, сборник “Случаи” (1939).

yalensis translation into English:

An Unsuccessful Play.  Onto the stage strides Petrakov-Gorbunov, he starts to say something, but hiccups.  He starts to throw up.  He leaves.  Pritykin walks out onto the tage.  Pritykin:  Respected Petrakov-Gorbunov wishes to inform…. (he starts to throw up and runs off).  Makarov walks out onto the stage.  Makarov:  Egor… (Makarov starts to throw up, he dashes off.)  Serpukhov walks out on the stage.  Serpukhov:  In order not to be… (he starts to throw up, he runs away).  Kurova comes out on the stage.  Kurova:  I would have… (she starts to throw up, she dashes off).  A little girl walks out onto the stage.  Little Girl:  Papa asked me to tell all of you that the theater has been closed.  We are all feeling quite sick.  Curtain comes down.

Daniil Kharms, Collected Works, 1939

Lyttenburgh continues:

Previous chapters served to provide some sort of exposition, to set up the stage and introduce the main sides of the conflict. With this done, the laws of the genre (and palpable tensions and contradictions obvious to anyone) dictate one thing – an explosion of the conflict, which affects all the participants while changing them forever.

This explosion did happen – but nearly a year and a half before Konstantin Raikin’s speech and present day heated arguments, which in fact are the fruits of this earlier scandal.

Good Tann

When nearly a year ago I read yalensis amazing article about MET’s production of this staple Wagnerian opera, there were no bounds to my amazement and relief. It turns out, that in prestigious, respectable and world-famous opera house you still can stage operas which look like, well, “operas”! I confess that when I read “Tannhäuser ” in the very first sentence of that review, a dreadful sinking feeling of despair overcame me – and it was all thanks to the way how I (and many, many other Russians) was first introduced to that immortal classic back then.

vs bad Tann

Back in late 2014, a screenwriter and director of Novosibirsk Opera theatre (state owned and funded, naturally) Timofey Kulyabin envisioned a brand new project – a “[post]modern” interpretation and production of Wagner’s “Tannhäuser”. In interviews and in private conversations Kulyabin stated outright, that two topics still remain most forbidden and scandalous in society – the Holocaust and religion. But because introducing any bold and whimsical interpretation of the Shoah would surely brand any kreakl as unhandshakable person in the worthy circles, he opted to focus on the present day’s all-time favorite acceptable punching bag of “thinking” persons claiming to represent the common European civilization – i.e. Christianity. So, with the blessing of Novosibirsk Opera’s theatre artistic-director Boris Mezdrich (a self-professed atheist), Kulyabin rushed to expose the spectators to his Vision. It was, I remind you, the same time, when the Ministry of Culture released its “Fundamentals of the State Cultural Policy”. Both the art-director and his young prodigy Kulyabin didn’t heed its words, if they read them at all.

Boris Mezdrich: “It seemed like a good idea at the time…”

If they were hoping for scandal – they got it. In Kulyabin’s version of the opera, Tannhäuser is a modern day film director, who arrives at the film fest with his movie exposing the “hidden truth” about Jesus Christ, who is having a jolly good time (on stage, in full view of the spectators) with half naked guys and gals. Another major difference from the original – there is no Redemption and Forgiveness for Tannhäuser in this version of the opera. Oh, and there was a poster of a crucified Christ on the backdrop of a vagina on stage . And its reproduction as the ads posters at the theatre’s entrance – which quite a lot of people had a chance to see.

The Grotto of the Goddess Venus

The production of this audibly impeccable and visually revolting opera robbed the very limited theatrical budget of 12.5 million rubles – which is not that big a sum, compared to Moscow where the average production costs about 20 millions, but for the Novosibirsk theatre, it was a lot. All “actors” involved in the lengthy orgy scene were in fact not Novosibirsk opera’s regulars – and a lot of them were in fact foreigners.

Throughout February of 2015 this “feast of the spirit” was on stage, gathering accolades from the forward thinking critics and causing a significant measure of dismay of the clergy and religious people. Naturally, the latter opposed such a wildly post-modern interpretation and accused their opponents of offending their religious sensitivities (a “hate-speech” offense, punishable in accordance with Russian legislation). People of Novosibirsk were rallying against the opera, gathering as many as 3000 protesters.  While counter-protesters defending the “freedom of expression” of Kulyabin and Mezdrich’s Vision were few and far between on the streets, but most numerous and active in the safe-spaces of the social media, jeering and deriding the religious bydlo for having such “medieval” standards of culture.

Public Backlash vs Pubic Backlash

Paradoxically enough, while the People were not silent anymore, it was the Ministry of Culture which tried at first to avoid any commentary or actions regarding the scandal. Even with the supposedly “unhandshakable” and despised by the intelligentsia Medinsky as its head, the Ministry was still full of shy and conscientious intelligents, who were used to being shamed and browbeaten by the boisterous artistic bullies.  The latter grew from the starving kittens of the Rough 90’s into a bunch of ungrateful and opinionated fat cats, who, indeed, learned nothing and forgot nothing.

Russian people exposed to this “modern culture” suffered from a cognitive dissonance for a long time. On the one hand – they were finally free to worship and express their faith. At the same time – state owned museums and art galleries started to host provocative exhibitions that, indeed, could be profoundly offensive to these people. At schools kids are still taught what is the High Art, how it’s important to attend theatres, concerts etc. But then state owned (and funded) theatres and operas began hosting extremely avant-garde, borderline pornographic productions. What previously was deemed as a way to slightly “spice up” the mainstream, became the mainstream. People came knocking to the state asking it to interfere, because they, the people, funded the Artistic institutions with their taxes and they should have at least some say in what they got in return. Aristocrats of the Spirit told the rabble to sod off. It’s their Vision! No one can influence them – neither the state nor the filthy peasants such as them.

Religion in Russia: Encouraged, yet derided

And thus the “medieval” people of Novosibirsk protested – and filed a lawsuit against the director of Novosibirsk theatre. The same persons, who defended as “street-performance art” the hooliganism and degeneracy of such modern “paragons” of Art as Pussy Riot, the art-group “Voina” and the “artist” Pavlensky — these same people proclaimed (and still believe it, judging by Zvyagintsev’s rant) the lawsuit filed in accordance with norms and regulations as yet another evidence of creeping Dark Ages and Censorship.

Fast forward to March 2015.  The Ministry of Culture, finally, takes notice of the disturbance and decides to do something. As was mentioned previously – there is precious little it could actually do in regards of influencing the behavior of the artistic types. Still, the Ministry asked (not ordered – asked) the artistic director (aka its theoretical subordinate Mezdrich) to tone down the stuff, which clearly offends lots of people. Also, the Ministry pointed out that the budget of this one particular opera’s production is kinda overblown, so can they scale it down a bit and relocate the funds on something more urgent – like paying long overdue salaries of the stage crew and performers? But they did not order him to cancel the Tannhäuser outright. Still, Mezdrich, as any Aristocrat of the Spirit in his place, arrogantly refused to do anything about the opera and to bow to the demands of the Grey Masses and Faceless Bureaucrats.

Wagnerians in Novosibirsk rally against Mezdrich…

By late March, the Ministry of Culture, beset on all sides, decided that enough is enough. After the lawsuit against the persons responsible for production of the opera, was, quite predictably, dismissed on the grounds that there was “no substance to the claim of a crime committed”, the Ministry decided to organize several independent (and consisting of invited experts and members of the clergy) commissions, who’d review the opera. There were no Faceless Bureaucrats of the ministry itself on board – only members of artistic intelligentsia, all thoroughly handshakable people. Based on their conclusions, on March 19 the Ministry voiced its official position. The Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation expressed that it is unacceptable to deliberately or not deliberately express disrespect to traditional values, and that’s what the art-director of Novosibirsk theatre did. That Boris Mezdrich exercised not enough personal control in his capacity as the head of this cultural institution. The Ministry of Culture asked the creators of this controversial opera to express a public apology to all people who were offended by their creation. Reaffirming their commitment to the law of the Russian Federation concerning unacceptability of censorship, the Ministry, still, reminded the offending parties of its program document on “Fundamentals” and that it still can exercise a fraction of control via the administrative and financial means (i.e. hinted about an upcoming audit that could make lots of people upset).

while his supporter says she liked it: “It was edgy!”

Mezdrich once again told the Ministry and the revolting plebeians to suck his enormous Spirituality and refused to bow to these preposterous demands.

Ten days later Minister Medinsky fired Mezdrich as the art-director of Novosibirsk opera theatre and replaced him with Mikhailovsky Theatre’s effective manager Vladimir Abramovich Kekhman.  Who, due to his loyalty to the Regime is not a handshakable person, and thus most liberal Media and people could permit themselves a degree of anti-Semitism in his general direction.

Kekhman: “What you talking ’bout? I am TOTALLY handshakeable!”

Mezdrich didn’t protest his dismissal and now he is a professor at the (State, of course) Institute of Modern Art. The Public Council at the Ministry of Culture, which included the most famous theatrical luminaries of Russia, including Konstantin Raikin, had been made aware of the fact. They remained silent. Sadly, the self-appointed Conscience and Cultural Elite of This Country didn’t remain silent. Faithful to established traditions, they erupted with series of “open letters” (a one way street to express “better than thou” snobbishness that saves you any worry that there will be a response). The same people, who spared no ink to write tearful and schizophrenic letters defending an act of hooliganism of Pussy Riot were defending “repressed” art-director Mezdrich:

Oleg Tabakov, Mark Zakharov, Valery Fokin, Alexei Serebryakov (the star of the “Leviathan” movie), Evgeny Mironov, Chulpan Khamatova, Oleg Menshikov, Vladimir Urin (Bolshoi’s Theatre director) and many, many others signed it.

Russia’s Union of Cinematographers chimed in, not to be left behind in the most fashionable protest against Tyranny. Well known actor Stanislaw Sadalsky went the extra mile in this festival of handshakability in his LJ post, where he argued most forcefully for the Minister of Culture’s resignation, and proved once and for all his superior upbringing and faithfulness to the Ideals of Pure Art, by mockingly changing the Minister’s surname to “Cuntinsky” (rus. “Мудинский”).

All of these members of the creative class were in revolt, defending the honour of one of their own, wronged by the Oppressive Regime… but none of them was insane enough to defend the opera itself. All of these High Priests of Apollo and Muses, gazing boringly on the Fallen World of the laymen around them, forever elevated by their self-proclaimed status as Elites – none of them tried to influence young and daring director and screenwriter Kulyabin to treat the High Art with respect and dignity (about which they like to pontificate for hours). No – being a victim is much more profitable. This allows you to diss and slander the despicable Powers That Be, call for the resignation of the Minister and then demand (not ask – demand!) more and more money from the very same state, that was just recently the implacable enemy of the Freedom and Art.

As was the case with Raikin just recently, this scandal also exposed lots of dirty laundry of supposedly saint-like artistic personas, and gave the general public a peak into a the amazing world of theatre. Kekhman in his capacity as the new art-director of Novosibirsk opera did exactly what the Ministry of Culture was threatening to do – ran the audit of the finances. Defenders of the “wronged” Mezdrich preferred not to notice his findings, which were spoiling their preconception of the Victim of the Regime. The theatre had an enormous amount of debts. The orchestra conductor was not paid for 7 months straight and finally quit his job even before Kekhman’s appointment.  The new art-director approached Kulyabin and reiterated the suggestions of the Ministry of Culture, concerning the production of his version of Tannhäuser . He was asked to drop the offending elements in an otherwise totally acceptable opera.

Kulyabin no longer needed that. He had reached his goal – notoriety and scandal. Mark Zakharov himself asked him to work in his theatre – a dream come true for any young and ambitious provincial director, and also a clear designator that such sort of behavior would not only be tolerated in the future – it would be rewarded. Timofey Kulyabin, the man responsible for all this controversy, the scandal, protests, lawsuits, hatred and conflict – he suffered nothing, no negative consequences AT ALL! Solidarity among the cultural luminaries proved to be stronger than directives and recommendations of the State and the anger of the people. Most recently, he had a chance to stage ”Don Pasquale” in the Bolshoy. Indeed – the world of Russian opera and theatre is his for the taking.

[to be continued]

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12 Responses to Op-Ed: On Modern Russian Culture: Part IV

  1. Lyttenburgh says:

    “And with my belated apologies to Lyttenburgh for losing my self-control yesterday, when I rudely inserted my own rant into his.”

    No need for apology, yalensis! Your intro’s not only provide excellent framing’s for different chapters of my articles, but they also contribute to the debate and serve as yet another source of feedback of the topic.

    On an unrelated note – found another typo!

    “The latter grew from the staving kittens of the Rough 90’s…”

    Should read “starving kittens”. My imagination was drawing something from “cat’s nephews” from the kids-poem “Cat’s house” (rus. “Кошкин дом”) by S. Marshak.

    Only they themselve grew up into rich and posh villa-owners with no respect and humility whatsoever.


    • yalensis says:

      Oi, I should have noticed that typo too! During my editing, I read through that passage several times, it was actually one of my favorites. But somehow my eye just glided over that typo and didn’t notice it.
      Okay, fixed it.


  2. ucgsblog says:

    A response to Lytburger’s Story:

    Ask, and ye shall receive: “Still, I’m better than UCG, who truly needs a cattle prod to write another article (Do you hear me, UCG?! Write something!).” – Lytburger, after writing part II of his piece on Russian Culture.

    But first, a quick background introduction: after seeing my Russophile statements on yet another forum discredit something clueless about Russia, Lytburger sent me an in forum message, and I responded… not right away… not even a month later, but eventually. Lytburger responded with something like this: “hey, you responded within a year, good job!” And thus the sarcastic duo was formed. We argue, debate, but in the end we always get along. So if you see us having a heated debate, feel free to join! Pranking is about as far as we go when messing with one another.

    After reading his brilliant essay on the Russian Ministry of Culture and the Aristocratic Kreakls, I am just going to come out and say it: enough! There is no reason to keep on funding the bullshit productions. Some productions are good, but the ones that are constantly failing, need the funding to stop. When such a program was first introduced, the objective was to spread Soviet Culture to the World. Not only the plan fail, but the Artistic Intelligentsia failed to predict the fall of the USSR. Their job was to defend the country from an artistic perspective, and they failed miserably. And, just like Yeltsin’s Oligarchs, they were rewarded for their failure. To someone living in a capitalist society, this is quite appalling.

    I remember when a friend of mine promised to volunteer a day with the Government, but he didn’t have the time to do it, so he asked me to go in his stead. After negotiating a decent fee, I went. The day was supposed to start at 9 AM, so I arrived at 10 AM, and was congratulated on arriving early; without sarcasm. After they found out that it was my first time there, they asked me how I found the building so quickly. “Well, there were only five signs telling me where to go,” I responded. “Do you think we need to put up more signs?” It was then and there I realized that sarcasm was not going to be effective, and yet I made a last, futile attempt: “nope, let the employees endure the challenge!”

    Once I arrived, I went for tea, and got to work. I was finished with everything that they spent eight hours doing by noon, so I was dismissed for lunch. Returning at 2 PM, I decided to do the next day’s work and help out those who needed it. After getting that done by 3:30 PM, I was told to go home, because I was too efficient, and they didn’t want their workers to stress over my productivity. They were willing to give me a great report, saying I worked from 9 AM to 6 PM with an hour lunch break. Reminds me of an old joke:

    “My dad works for speed racing; his workday ends at 5 PM and at 5:10 PM he’s home!”
    “Oh yeah, well my dad works for NASA; his workday ends at 5 PM and at 5:05 PM he’s home!”
    “My dad works for the government; his workday ends at 5 PM, by 4 PM he’s home!”

    The reason I brought that up? At least those who are working in Government get their job done and are Patriotic. Sure they’re slow, they’re inefficient, but they get the job done. They’re at the wheel, grinding, day in and day out. The Aristocratic Kreakls mentioned by Lytburger? They do not get their job done, and still expect to be paid. Not only that, but they constantly run up debts, as Lytburger’s article showed. When they are paid by taxpayer funds, some of them use said money to make movies that take a giant dump on the taxpayers. That system makes absolutely no sense.

    I have firsthand experience about how Culture in America works. I live in California, the Cultural Mecca of the West American Coastline, from pole to shining pole. Want to know what it takes to make it? Brace yourself, because it ain’t pretty. The first thing that happens to those who come here to succeed is that we make them hungry; deliberately. You want to be a director? Certainly, now go and wash dishes at McDonald’s. You want a university to help you out? Certainly, now go ahead and contribute something theoretic to the development of art. You don’t want to? Feel free to take your chances in the private sphere, without scholarship. Back to washing dishes at McDonald’s for you! You want to be a director? Volunteer on set for a couple of months. Then maybe we will let you direct something small.

    This is a deliberate process, because it makes the artist hungry. The aspiring artist has to balance a 40 hour job, 20 hours of education, and still find the time to produce something that others want produced. And if that is too much for you, then you will wash out. You will not make it. That is how Hollywood works. Lindsay Lohan was putting in 80 hour weeks before Mean Girls. An artist here is not going to say “I haven’t been quite visited by my muse just yet!” An artist here is going to get visited by his must every single minute, because the artist is hungry, sometimes literally.

    Remember Leonardo DiCaprio? Despite have a solid system of support, he started out with commercials. At 14 he was still doing commercials for cars. His muses did not abandon him during said commercials. In 1993 he was cast with Johnny Depp, after earning that privilege, and his career took off. But he remains quite humble and hungry; when he cut his hand while filming Django he continued to act the role until the scene was over, despite his super star status and the pain in his palm. That’s what it takes to make it.

    Those who whine and complain, wash out. And certainly there are idiotic movies produced, and moronic plays, but those are in the minority, because the writers, producers, actors, directors, and investors understand one thing: if the public hates it, the movie, play, cartoon, etc, will be a flop and they will be unemployed. It is a brutal and unforgiving World, but if you want in, that is the only way to make it. And it works. California is buzzing with talent. I can go out in Hollywood during any evening, and I will find great plays, comedies, tragedies, music concert, street musicians, performers, all working their butts off, looking for their big break. They’re hungry for it. This is what it takes to create something like Hollywood. Something as vibrant and as brilliant cannot be created on a Government teat. You need Hunger.

    This is reminiscent of the Red Army and the Red Navy. Did anyone take the time to understand why they were superbly efficient? If you have any doubts, simply study Operation August Storm. The Reds treated the Sino-Soviet War of 1945 like a war game. In two weeks, the Reds captured more prisoners than the Allies captured combined throughout the four years of warfare. The Red Army and the Red Navy were born as a true meritocracy out of necessity. If you failed, you died on the battlefield. That is why they were phenomenal when it came to fighting, and winning the Great Patriotic War. This concept applies all over the map, and is not just limited to the armed forces, or to Hollywood Glamour driving by the Hunger games.

    This is the World we live in. And this is the World that the Aristocratic Kreakls cannot hope to improve, because they did not have the hunger, they did not inherit the theaters out of necessity; they are simply untrained to meet the goals that are set out for them in the Government Budget. As thus, a system of metrics must be established in order to weed out the crap from something that might somehow work. In California we use the attendance as the main metric. One must use attendance intelligently, as so we have two measurements: the first is overall attendance, whereas the second is the percentage of stadium that is filled. When these are combined through a formula, they carry roughly half of the total weight. The strong survive and the weak do not. It’s as simple as that, and I firmly believe that it is a system that the Ministry of Culture should apply to the theaters that were inherited in the 1990s.


    • yalensis says:

      Dear ucgsblog:
      Your interactions with Lyttenburgh remind me of that old joke about the guy and the snail:

      A guy is sitting at home when he hears a knock at the door. He opens the door and sees a snail on the porch. He picks up the snail and throws it as far as he can. A year later, there’s another knock at the door. He opens it and sees the same snail. The snail asks indignantly, “What was that all about?”


    • Lyttenburgh says:

      “Lytburger responded with something like this: “hey, you responded within a year, good job!””

      And I was just after the Army. “Hurry up and Wait” is unversal principle, transcending times and borders.

      “When such a program was first introduced, the objective was to spread Soviet Culture to the World.”


      “After getting that done by 3:30 PM, I was told to go home, because I was too efficient, and they didn’t want their workers to stress over my productivity.”

      UCG, you know this is always a dangerous attitude!

      “I live in California, the Cultural Mecca of the West American Coastline, from pole to shining pole.”

      Oh, kurwa! 80)


      • yalensis says:

        “the objective was to spread Soviet Culture to the World.” – you say that like it’s a bad thing!

        Okay, I just have to stick my sovok snout here.
        Soviets did manage to produce a lot of world-class literature, films, even representational painting, which are still enjoyed by millions today.
        In comparison, what has post-Soviet Russia produced; or Westies, for that matter?

        To be sure, Soviet culture was not able to compete on the global level with Hollywood or Western mass (including degenerate) culture. But at the very least, in those days you didn’t have to worry about going to the Hermitage and seeing dead dogs strung up overhead. That sort of thing should be reserved for Madame Tussaud, or perhaps Mr. Venus House of Horrors (allusion to Dickens, “Our Mutual Friend”).


        • ucgsblog says:

          “you say that like it’s a bad thing!”

          Not at all! I love Soviet Culture, and movies such as S Legkim Parom, Alexander Nevsky, Dzhentelmenuy Udachi, V Boi Iduyt Odni Stariki, etc. I have no issues with the US or the USSR spreading their culture. Certainly a country should act to prevent Cultural Spam, but neither the USSR nor the US were doing that during the Cold War.

          “Soviets did manage to produce a lot of world-class literature, films, even representational painting, which are still enjoyed by millions today.
          In comparison, what has post-Soviet Russia produced; or Westies, for that matter?”

          The Soviet did a really good job, but there’s a reason why the Imperial Age of Literature was called the Golden Age, and the Soviet Age, the Silver Age. Post-Soviet Russia had excellent works too, such as Brat and Yolki. As for the West, there have been plenty of stellar works, and since I’m focusing on films here, there are Star Wars, Deadpool, as well as classics like Gone With the Wind. Culture keeps evolving all the time.

          My issue isn’t that Soviet Culture was bad; it was amazing. My issue is that the Aristocratic Kreakls failed to prevent the Fall of the USSR from a Cultural Perspective, which was their job, and yet they still demand payment for their failure. In Lytburger’s interview there’s one guy who didn’t fail, and he was the one who wanted a metrics system. The others revolted against him. They brought Capitalism to Russia, now they should simply enjoy the fruits of their labor.


          • yalensis says:

            STAR WARS????!!!! oI yoi yoi yoi yoi
            Okay, full disclosure, I DO NOT LIKE Star Wars!

            Having said that, but I do agree with you about that round-table discussion, Lyt was too negative, I think. Some good points were made willy-nilly. The guy who proposed metrics was on target. Theater directors should be subject to metrical measurements.
            Like, ticket sales, peer reviews, external awards, etc.
            There has to be SOME objective measurement of worthiness, no?
            Otherwise it IS simply unremitting bullshit.

            I mean, in MY regular plebeian job, I have to submit my aristocratic self to the humiliating annual ritual of the “Employee Performance Review”. In which some genetically inferior philistine who doesn’t get my genius, measures my delectable self against supposedly objective metrics.
            And if I, a white-collar proletarian, am forced to submit to this outrage, then ARTISTS should have to do it, too. They should not be immune from the negative consequences of wage slavery.


            • ucgsblog says:

              You might not like Star Wars, but it is the movie, (I’m talking about the original one,) that helped spread the Universe Creation Genre throughout society. Star Wars didn’t invent the genre, but the movie advertised it superbly. It’s own billion dollar industry, spawned around that Star Wars movie. Something that superb deserves to be Honored, irrespective of personal taste. One might not be a fan of Citizen “Rosebud” Kane, but one still has to recognize how that movie advanced the documentary drama genre.

              That said, I completely agree with you that ticket sales and attendance should lead the metrics. I don’t think that peer reviews should count for much, because handshakable artists can just give each other good reviews. And in some cases, the good reviews can allegedly be bought:

              External awards might work, but I would still build the metrics around attendance. If you have a constant following, that’s very active, then you are doing something right, most of the time. I would even extend it to blogs. I don’t have to deal with daily reviews, but I have my metrics, mainly how accurate my analytical reports are, in terms of how much investment they can generate, and the return on said investment. All of us have some performance metrics that we have to meet, and Lytburger’s frustration is that the Aristocratic Kreakls want the hard earned taxpayer rubles, without meeting any metrics.


            • yalensis says:

              Dear ucgsblog,
              Recently I read (and argg can’t find the link any more) some piece on the Internet, claiming that the original Star Wars fantasy story is a complete plagiarism of the Soviet 1944 children’s movie “Koshchei the Deathless”.
              Which, by the way, is quite brilliant movie, everybody should watch it.

              And indeed the similarities are striking: A kidnapped girl (Princess Leia = Marya), a young hero who is a farmboy (Luke = Nikita), the immortal skeleton-like monster who kidnapped her (Darth Vader = Koshchei), even the brave and cocky sidekick (Hans Solo = Bulat Bulatovich).
              Probably more like universal fairy tale memes than outright plagiarism, but still something to keep in mind.

              As for metrics: I agree that ticket sales and attendance should be paramount.
              On blogs, the proper metric is number of views and visitors.
              This is why I do an accounting and metrics of my own blog every month.
              If it ever happened that I had zero readers, then I wouldn’t bother any more.
              Although, to be sure, I don’t get paid anything to do it, so it doesn’t really matter, and nobody is supporting me, it’s just for fun.
              Out in the real world though, I agree with you that “artists” or ‘writers” shouldn’t expect to make a living out of this and/or be supported by the government, if they do not enjoy any popularity among the masses.


            • yalensis says:

              P.S. – my personal fave bit in the Koshchei movie is that part where Nikita arrives in the far land where the Sultan rules, and the Sultan is brought out for everybody to bow to him.
              Everybody bows, the camels bow their heads, even the alligators in the moat bow to him.
              Cracks me up every time when the alligators bow, I don’t know why, I just like that kind of silliness.


            • Lyttenburgh says:

              “Probably more like universal fairy tale memes than outright plagiarism, but still something to keep in mind.”

              Precisely! George Lucas never denied that he relied heavily on the “Hero with a thousand faces” (which I own and have read several times) and “Heroes’s Journey” by Joseph Campbell . In the Soviet Union the same trope-codification work had been done by V.Ya. Propp. Nowadays, virtually all directors and screenwriters in Hollywood study such works. It’s not plagiarism per se – it’s just understanding that you are dealing with a Lego-style construction kit, thanks to which you build your narrative.

              I’m also writing a “Что делать?” kind of response to both of your suggestions.


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