Posts Tagged ‘“The Daily Show’

Last night, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert announced that they would hold sort-of-but-not-really-competing rallies at the Lincoln Memorial on October 30th.

Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity” will be the voice of reason countering Colbert’s alarmist “March to Keep Fear Alive.” It’s a real-life satire of Glenn Beck’s Tea Party demonstration called “Restoring Honor” held on the National mall this past August. And it brings Comedy Central’s continued lampooning of absurd punditry and broken politics to a whole new level.

The Lincoln Memorial is America’s soap box. Most famously, in 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech catapulted the efforts of the Civil Rights movement, and it helped make the memorial one of the country’s most powerful architectural symbols.  It’s without a doubt a solemn space for Americans, but not one the comedy world hasn’t touched before.  After all, Legally Blonde’s cartoonish “Elle Woods” and the actual cartoon Lisa Simpson have both found inspiration there.  Who knows if history will be made there on October 30th, but we can probably count on Colbert and Stewart being pretty funny.

A few years ago, as part of our series American Icons, Studio 360 devoted a whole hour to the Memorial, in which Kurt Andersen looked at what makes it the place to give a speech.

This fall, our Peabody Award-winning series returns.  Studio 360 will bring you stories on I Love Lucy, Jimi Hendrix’s “Star-Spangled Banner,” the Harley-Davidson, and that other piece of architectural Americana, Monticello (an episode that, coincidentally, features Stephen Colbert).  American Icons picks up next week with the premiere of our one-hour episode on The Autobiography of Malcolm X.  Don’t miss it!

-Stephen Reader

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Last week the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York opened its exhibition on “The Drawings of Bronzino,” showcasing the work of a man who may just be the best painter nobody cares about.

Agnolo Bronzino was one of the leading painters and poets of sixteenth-century Italy.  But during this time Italian art and culture were dominated by the Mannerist school — and Mannerism is unquestionably the Jan Brady of European Art.  It’s not as naturally beautiful, or let’s face it, well-proportioned as its older sister Marcia “Renaissance” Brady.  And it’s also not as direct or emotional as its younger sister Cindy “Baroque” Brady.  Stuck in between these two celebrated periods, it languishes in obscurity…an overlooked middle child.

Detail from Parmigianino's "Diane and Acteon."

But there are reasons to celebrate Mannerist artists like Bronzino.  Mannerism is more playful, fanciful, and really more inventive, than Renaissance art.  Some time in the mid-sixteenth century, artists in Italy grew weary of constantly focusing on faithful, proportioned reproductions of nature.  And so they started to play around a bit.  They showcased their skills by distorting nature… maybe by elongating an arm or a neck… maybe by cramming in so much detail into a painting that the eye could hardly take it all in.

Bronzino's "Head of a Smiling Young Woman."

Long relegated to Jan status, Mannerism is making a comeback.  The New Yorker’s Peter Schjeldahl says creative culture is full of Mannerists today, concerned with “art about art, and style for style’s sake.”  Schjeldahl even finds similarities between Bronzino’s poetry and the satire of “The Daily Show,” in how both take “glee in the absurdities of inescapable conditions” and force “despairing cynicism to a pitch of wholesome revelry.”

The Da Vincis, the Donatellos…they’ve had their day.  It’s time to give Jan Brady her due!

– Michael Guerriero

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