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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Culture Corner with Josh Madrid

The Arts Desks’ weekly picks for movies, books, music and television shows.

Book: “The Second Machine Age” by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee

I read this book almost two years ago in a class focused on contemporary trends in technology and how it relates to society, particularly the future of work. This is in an interesting read in the context of this pandemic that’s changing how we see work. The authors discuss how 19th Century economic theory wasn’t prepared for the digital realm, nor the rules it would transcend in the tangible world. The book builds on that fact and how it’s created a society of “superstars” that create something, make a lot of money and then completely put an entire sector of the economy out of work. They draw comparisons to the industrial revolution as well as give recommendations about where we go from here. 

Movie: “The Platform” directed by Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia

Walking the line between thriller and drama, this film is a metaphor for classism in society. The Spanish film stars Iván Massagué who plays Goreng, a man who wakes in a concrete cell to serve his voluntary time in prison to receive a diploma. The prisoners spend a few months at their randomly assigned level from 1 to 333. The lower the number, the better. Fine food is placed on a platform at level 1 and slowly makes its way down to each level. Those at the top are the haves and those on the bottom are the have nots. Goreng realizes that the only way to break the cycle is to send a “message” to the top from the bottom. 

TV Show: “Cheer” on Netflix

This show is ideal for pure shelter-in-place reality TV cravings. The show follows the lives of a niche community — a collegiate cheer squad — and how important the star team of that community is to its members. Each year, there is a national college cheer competition in Daytona Beach, Florida where teams from around the country compete to show off their athleticism and the best pyramid they can put forward. It’s the collection of an entire year’s work played out in a few minutes. There are genuine moments of compassion, and the audience sees how tight-knit the cheer community is. 

Album: “Love + Fear” by Marina

This album is wholehearted craftsmanship that imagines beautiful images of human existence, struggle and beauty. The title of the album is inspired by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, a Swiss-American psychiatrist, who theorized that all good emotions come from love and all bad emotions from fear. In this time of uncertainty, I recommend “To Be Human.” It’s a song that reminds us all of our humanity — despite the obvious truth to those words, this can be easy to forget. Marina sings, “And if there is a god, they’ll know why it’s so hard.” My personal favorites are “Handmade Heaven” and “Orange Trees” because the visual and olfactory sensations create a floating bliss. The poetry in “Handmade Heaven” is great with lyrics such as “I envy the birds high up in the trees. They live out their lives so purposefully.” It’s quite different from her previous work on “Froot” and “Primadonna,” but it’s a great evolution.

Written by: Josh Madrid — arts@theaggie.org


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