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Too slow… much too slow.

June 21, 2009

The long tradition of Soviet politicians involving themselves in the ways of the arts seems to continue.   Ilya Glazunov, an artist, earned some critique from Vladimir Putin on the length of a sword.  Gracefully, it seems the artist Glazunov agreed and promised to fix it.

This brought a smile to my face even if it shouldn’t have, because it reminded me of the infamous Muddle Instead of Music incident between Stalin and Shostakovich.  That thought eventually led to thinking about the deaths of artists during the Great Purge in Soviet Russia.

It shows they care?  The only examples of American politics getting involved in the arts have been related to obscenity:  Guiliani’s crusade against the dung covered Madonna, Burrough’s Naked Lunch (which celebrates its 50th birthday this year), Prince offending Tipper Gore, etc. 

Now – that’s not to say Putin’s critique (the sword was not realistically sized) was more substantial than these attacks, yet it did have to do with the art itself.  To critique art in a serious way is not exactly done… anywhere in our popular society.  Barack Obama once made an oblique comment about some of the themes in hip hop, if I recall. 

It might sound ridiculous, but public remarks like Putin probably generate more interest in the arts than a quiet night taking in a musical or ballet from the First Family.  Can you imagine if a politician in America took in a National Symphony Orchestra concert and when asked about it said “I think they took the first movement of the Mozart entirely too slow.”  It might dawn on an entire society that there are things to listen to in music. 

Just don’t kill any of us, please.

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