Saturday, May 31, 2008 — by Wow Jones
“The Resistance: Ten Years of Pop Culture That Shook The World” is a collection of essays from arts critic
Armond White. While he focuses on film and music, there are a few pieces on theatre (and other aspects of the arts) that may intrigue people. The essays were initially published in the years of 1984 through 1994.
It’s a book that I not only continue to read twelve years after getting it but I still learn from the book. I suspect I’m not the only one who feels that way and figured I’d start a blog for folks interesting in talking/debating and wrestling with the ideas this critic brings forth in his book.
I’m also trying to find assorted reviews of the book. Please forward any reviews you folks come across, okay?
Here’s one review of the Armond White book, “The Resistance: Ten Years Of Pop Culture That Shook The World”.
Here’s an interview with Armond White where he mentions his book.
While it’s hard to spotlight any ONE essay in the book, I do have favorites–the trick is writing about them without giving away the store, so to speak. The essays I really love in the book are:
- The segment on the Prince movie PURPLE RAIN and the cult classic SPARKLE in the Places In The Art essay where Armond White talks about race in Hollywood movies and the breakthrough that PURPLE RAIN represents.
- Rethinking Hollywood Archetypes–As the title suggests, Armond White writes about the complex, complicated, serious Steven Spielberg movie THE COLOR PURPLE and its ingenuousness.
- The audacious Steven Spielberg movie Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade.
- Gospel music (pop gospel and traditional gospel) and its link to the Madonna music video and song, “Like A Prayer“.
- The albums by rapper LL Cool J, Walking With a Panther and Mama Said Knock You Out. Armond White notes LL Cool J’s range of theatrical tones throughout his music. From intimate-seductive to cocky bellowing to pleading to sneering to jocular to cheerleading — Armond White charts the development and continued evolution of LL Cool J’s expression. And that’s just ONE point.
- Armond White’s take on comedian Robin Harris and his comedy album Bebe’s Kids. Armond White writes about Robin Harris’s satirical take on the way Black folk live.
- The essay where Armond White writes about the work of Brian DePalma and how he’s essentially a political filmmaker. He focuses on the movies Casualities of War and Bonfire Of The Vanities.
- The Spike Lee movie Jungle Fever. Here he highlights the work of cinematographer (now director) Ernest Dickerson and the revolutionary nature of his photography. He’s mentioned it in pieces on Do The Right Thing but Armond White really lays it out here.
- The essay on the Michael Jackson music video, Black or White.
- Armond White’s essay on the Willie D (of the rap group The Geto Boys) “Rodney K” record. Here he notes how rap was the superior art form of contemporary culture and has perceptive observations on how this record represents the best of the hip hop generation.
- His essay on the amateur movies Love Your Mama (Ruby Oliver), Leslie Harris’ Just Another Girl On The I.R.T. , and Robert Rodriguez’ El Mariachi.
- Armond White’s essay on rapper MC Lyte’s “Ruffneck” song. Here Armond White notes MC Lyte’s voice change and the great and emotional performance it represents in this instance.
- Simi Valley Aesthetics. — In this essay, Armond White writes about a series of terrible movies and argues that they encourage a visual illiteracy where audiences/movie goers/critics DON’T know who to look at movies anymore.
- Toward A Theory of Spielberg History — Here Armond White writes about the Steven Spielberg movie Schindler’s List and argues that the enthusiam and promotion of that great movie is actually a frustrating example of the public’s/critics missunderstanding Spielberg’s unique sensibility. To lay out his argument he not mentions Spielberg’s canon of films and points out what made them special.
- The essay on the C + C Music Factory music video “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” by Marcus Nispel. Here he writes about how that music video is a spectacular display and evocation about the commercialization of hip-hop culture.
- Armond White’s essay on rapper ICE CUBE’s albums The Predator and Lethal Injection. Here Armond White writes about the MASSIVE achievement The Predator album represents and how Lethal Injection is proof of Ice Cube’s continued growth as an artist. Too bad Ice Cube’s movies rarely reach the artistic standard that his albums laid down. Of all his films, the first Friday movie and the recent First Sunday, come close.
It should be noted that these essays are OLD essays. In fact, these essays originally appeared at about the time these works entered the air and made their impact. Week after week, Armond White took advantage of his opportunity to follow and comment on the developments in pop culture IMMEDIATELY and frequently AS THEY HAPPENED. A high-wire act if I ever read one.
As noted throught this blog, Armond White’s “The Resistance: Ten Years of Pop Culture That Shook The World” is out of print. However, you can find USED copies of the book at your local library or simply purchase one. Here’s a website that has (at time of this writing) 37 USED or NEW copies of “The Resistance: Ten Years of Pop Culture That Shook The World” available for purchase.
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