The Scramble is Scandalous
Scandal is a theme today.
One of our guests today is Anne Helen Petersen, who left academia to write full-time about celebrities and television and celebrity gossip. One of the themes her first book, "Scandals of Classic Hollywood," is the history of Hollywood scandal so lets get my own theory out of the way.
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton may have been the last big celebrities to have an entertainingly sordid private life. There are many reasons for this but I think part of it is because when movies began to celebrate the anti-hero and to depict vice as something with few, if any consequences, the whole question of who Ingrid Bergman was sleeping with became a lot less interesting. The old kind of Hollywood scandal became relegated to the shabby neighborhood of reality TV and the big stars were moths drawn to the flame of health and stability.
Scandal has spruced up its image in the intervening years. "The Death of Klinghoffer," the John Adams and Alice Goodman opera, provoked protest last week at its first Metropolitan Opera performance, twenty-three years after its world premiere. The strident arguing over the morality of the play quickly polarized people into either defenders of artistic freedom or defenders of terrorism, each side too stuck on the edges to see the middle. But, it all helps the Met because scandal is central to the social and financial economy of high culture. Raphael Magarik joins us to talk about his piece in The New Republic.
Last, baseball is dying, or at least that's what sportswriters and others fear every year around the playoffs. Grantland writer Bryan Curtis joins us to say enough already. Its an old fear that's been recycled primarily by sportwriters since Pete O'Brien, captain of Brooklyn's Atlantic Club, declared "players don't play ball nowadays as they used to some eight or ten years ago." He said it in 1868. So, why is it so much fun to plan the funeral of baseball.
We'll say more about Hollywood and baseball and opera.
- Anne Helen Petersen is a Features Writer for BuzzFeed and is the author of Scandals of Classic Hollywood: Sex, Deviance, and Drama from the Golden Age of American Cinema. You can tweet her @annehelen
- Bryan Curtis is a staff writer at Grantland and the author of the article, “The Dead Ball Century” You can tweet him @curtisbeast
- Raphael Magarik is a freelance writer and a graduate student in English Literature at University of California, Berkeley. His work has appeared in The New Republic, Atlantic.com and The Jewish Daily Forward. You can tweet him @RaffiMagarik