Three things to read/ listen to/ watch
13 February 2012
I don’t do this often enough: recommend things I’m reading, especially considering how much these three pieces have provoked my imagination during the past week. Don’t want to overwhelm you, so I’ve narrowed it down to three:
First: the wonderful playwright Tony Kushner (Angels in America, The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures) recently received the Puffin Prize, The Nation Institute’s prize for Creative Citizenship — a highly lucrative award. Watch his funny, self-deprecating, and thoughtful 20-minute speech here — he’s not the most natural orator, but what he says is lovely; or read his full speech at The Nation’s site. (Actually, do both, because you miss some things in the video version.) He talks jokingly at first about winning prizes and then eloquently about what it means to be a citizen, even a bad one. Also: how he intends to spend all that money:
Second, read this smart piece about Rick Santorum’s particular appeal to Christian women, written by Kathy Ferguson of the University of Hawaii. Whereas I’ve been inclined to make fun of him, full stop, she does a magnificent job of thinking about how he performs the role of a parent who has suffered grief (of a dead baby, a severely disabled child) and hence touches some women in deep ways. In “Making Sense of Rick Santorum,” Ferguson showed me that I need to come to grips with — well, if not Santorum, at least the women whose self-identification as mothers trumps everything, and even leads them to vote for such a man.
And third, finally, Terri Gross’s interview of Meryl Streep on Fresh Air was such a riveting and good-humored account of acting — acting as a form of singing (with special reference to Barbra Streisand); the similarities and differences between the voices of Julia Child and Margaret Thatcher; the way that coming of age as a girl eager to attract boys is a form of acting. I loved every minute and have added Streep to my list of Dream Dinner Party guests. (You can listen to it online or download it to your iTunes. I seem to listen to podcasts all the time now — at the gym, the grocery store, walking to work….)
Which reminds me: why don’t we have more female interviewers getting serious with other women artist/creator/politician interviewees on subjects that don’t devolve back to boys alone? Or weight loss? Can it be that women themselves don’t pass the Bechdel Test often enough?
Anyway. I do love seeing smart people being smart on the page/in person. Enjoy the pleasure of texts that sit above the usual.