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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Culture Corner with Josh Madrid

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

Television: “Hollywood” on Netflix

Hollywood is a miniseries that fantasizes about the LGBTQ experience the 1950s never gave actors. The story follows Jack Castello, a World War II veteran, who moves to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career with Ace Studios and a group of other actors and writers that don’t fit the Hollywood mold of the time. Historical Hollywood figures such as Rock Hudson and Vivien Leigh are woven into this historical fiction where the cast is fighting to produce and film a movie about a girl who jumped off the Hollywood sign after being rejected by the industry. And along the way, avoid getting killed. 

Movie: “God’s Own Country”

This 2017 movie has since rotated out of Netflix, but it’s reemerged in the media — although this time its reemergence was not to praise its successful portrayal of a gay experience with raw emotions and grueling internal turbulence. The UK film director, Francis Lee, pointed out that the version that recently began streaming on Prime Video censored gay sexual scenes. Amazon has responded by saying that the distributor, Samuel Goldwyn, is to blame for the censorship. Regardless, the film is about a young farmer named Johnny and a Romanian migrant named Gheorghe falling in love after Johnny hires Gheorghe to help the family farm during lambing season. It is a carefully crafted drama that shows that circumstances and years of tradition can’t block out love. 

Album: “Madame X” by Madonna

The “X” in Madame X, the secret agent name Madonna gave to her jack-of-all-trades character, represents a multitude of professions and positions that the madame identifies with. The album intrinsically asks why one can’t embody a whore, a saint and a head of state — among other things — in the eyes of society. My favorite song on the album is the seductive club song, “Medellin,” sung with Medellín that begins with Madonna whispering, “One, two, one, two. One, two, cha-cha-cha…” The song mixes latin drums and heavy-synth with autotune that shapeshifts much like Madame X. The album discusses gun control, politics and trans rights all while simultaneously entertaining. And of course, there are several high-budget music videos that follow her trend of controversial music videos — a trend spanning long before “visual albums” were the norm. 

Book: American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump

That long title is in itself the summary of this fascinating book that provides a bird’s eye perspective as to how right wing politics have built up to where they are now. Author Tim Alberta explains that in the days after the George W. Bush era, the Republican party was left without an identity and a clear path for the future and the changing American society. Factions within the GOP began to form with influences from familiar names like Mitch McConnell and Ted Cruz, as well as groups like the Tea Party. Together, they all set the stage for soon-to-be president of the U.S., Donald Trump. 

Written by: Josh Madrid – arts@theaggie.org


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