Saturday Links

Trying to get a bunch of reading done before I head up to Full Frame next weekend, but here are a few links worth checking out:

  • Via Altercation, The Chronicle of Higher Education is running a contest in which participants submit plans for the Bush Presidential Library at Southern Methodist University, with some amusing, and sometimes enlightening, results. As Alterman reminds us, SMU was selected despite the complaints of faculty and staff members at the university.
  • Ari Melber reports in The Nation on a new political website, VoterVoter.com that allows customers, starting at about $1,000, to purchase broadcast time in any market in the country and to choose an advertisement to air–or to make their own. I have to admit that I’m somewhat ambivalent here. This is clearly a way for small groups to pool their money to buy ad time in a market to promote a political cause or candidate, but I think it further reinforces the idea that voters have to buy their way in to participation in the public sphere. I’m not naive enough to expect publicly-funded elections on a massive scale, but this approach still retains the basic structure of American politics. More money equals more speech.
  • On the other hand, The New York Times presents a somewhat more optimistic image of networked political audiences by tracing the online circulation of Barack Obama’s response to Bush’s final State of the Union address. They report that younger voters are especially engaged with the election this year. They also offer some interesting research from Pew tracing a clear demarcation between younger and older audiences in terms of how people access news. One interesting tidbit: younger voters seem far more likely to link to and read or watch “primary texts,” such as speeches by Obama, Clinton, or McCain than they are to link to or email reporting on that speech, essentially replacing a “professional filter” with a “social” one.
  • Patrick Goldstein’s L.A. Times article on John Hughes crossed my radar the other day, and I’ve been planning to blog it for a while. I’d been wondering what ever happened to Hughes after catching bits and pieces of Pretty in Pink on cable the other day (news of Molly Ringwald’s 40th birthday also inspired this ’80s nostalgia-fest). Hughes’ teen cycle, especially The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, and Ferris Bueller, was an important part of my early cinematic education. They were among the first films where I found characters who were “like” me, who recognized that the social hierarchies in high schools were screwed up and arbitrary, and Pretty in Pink even gave me an early introduction to one of my favorite character actors in Harry Dean Stanton. And, other than some quirky excesses–the dancing scene in The Breakfast Club comes to mind–they hold up quite well. Long story short: Hughes seems to have lost interest in working in Hollywood and has retreated from public life back to the Chicago suburbs he made famous in the multiplexes and on the VHS screens of countless 1980s teens like myself.

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