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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Culture Corner

The Arts Desk’s weekly picks for movies, music and more


By ADHITHI ANJALI — arts@theaggie.org


Book: “Fun Home” by Alison Bechdel (2006)

Known for her cartoons and writings on gay and lesbian life in the U.S. since the 80s, Bechdel’s “Fun Home” uses comics and dry humor to navigate her relationship with her father after his suicide. Her blunt admissions leave you laughing while wondering whether you should have laughed at all. Nevertheless, the emotional impact goes both ways, and the attempt to understand her father — including his reasons for secrecy and his predilection for control — breaks through Bechdel’s protective analytical lens in a heart-wrenching need for human connection. 


Painting: “Our Town” by Kerry James Marshall (1995)

Toying with the imagery and tone of early 20th-century images of Americana, “Our Town” criticizes perceptions of a white, middle-class majority nation. The figures of Black children are starkly contrasted against a postcard-esque backdrop of white picket-fenced houses, lined with bright reds and filled by brighter whites. Marshall’s decision to barely render his characters emphasizes the displacement of Black people in the propagandistic ideal of American middle-class life. The painting is also overlaid with graffiti in some areas, asking the audience to consider the reality of what is depicted behind it. The painting is a part of Marshall’s larger “Garden Project” series. “Our Town” alludes to Thornton Wilder’s 1938 play of the same name, calling to attention the blindness of white creators to the presence of Black Americans, in art and in their own towns. 


TV Show: “Man Like Mobeen” (2020)

British comedian and writer Guz Khan brings to screen a comedic spin on life in the U.K. as a Muslim man supporting his friends, family and community. Playing the titular character Mobeen, Khan infuses the screen with energy and the quick-witted style of British comedy. Through this lens, Khan shows life in Small Heath, a poor and largely immigrant community, where Mobeen must care for his sister by himself. Of course, he has the support of weird and wonderful friends who antagonize him as much as they love him. The show offers quick laughs in the much-missed format of 30-minute TV comedy. Its first three seasons are available on Netflix, and a fourth season is on the way.


Album: “Aim and Ignite” by fun. (2009)

Indie pop with a little extra experimental rock style, the quartet fun. was terribly overlooked as a radio pop band after their single “Some Nights.” Before that, however, I believe they really created a unique sound and style in the lyrics and composition of their album “Aim and Ignite.” The album is concerned with a discontented youth, and its lyrics detail the neuroses of a modern adult. The album is theatrical, which is why I am so drawn to it. The opener, “Be Calm,” plays with tempo to follow the mind of the narrator. “Benson Hedges,” the following song, starts boldly with inspiration drawn from gospel singing, and the rest of the album follows with fun and energetic instrumentation.

Written by: Adhithi Anjali — arts@theaggie.org