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The Scarlet & Black

Letter: A 2nd response to the staff ed

Last week’s staff editorial suggested that the Concerts and Films Committee should focus more on bringing a select schedule of big-name bands and popular movies rather than a larger number of less hyped groups and films. As a member of the Films Committee and avid fan of the Concerts Committee, I would like to expose some problems with this piece by pointing the editors to other articles they printed in the very same issue of the S&B.

Refer first to the discussion between two editors on page six, where the movies loved by the Academy Awards were rightfully lamented for how their oftentimes bland formulas or problematic agendas should not result in such praise and popularity.

Although the best pic noms did leave out WALL-E and The Dark Knight, the Oscars still tend to be dominated by popular films (see Slumdog, LotR, etc.). At the very least, independent and foreign films rarely make appearances in the Best Pic Category.

Meanwhile, the films committee consistently brings big grossers—like WALL-E and Batman. But if we stopped there, as the article suggests, we’d be failing to attend to another issue brought up on the page adjacent to the editorial—diversity at Grinnell.

When negotiating the issue of quality and quantity, we have to question to what extent the latter determines the former. The editorial’s argument equates the quality of a choice made by the committees with the size of the turnout at the event. But this leaves out questions like: whose definition of quality is this? Who are these “quality” movies catering to? Who is being left out in this equation? How many people at an event does it take to make it a worthwhile choice?

Can we determine this by the price paid by each individual in attendance in relation to the cost of the event? No. That’s because the activities fee is the same for everybody—we’re in this grand project of weekend entertainment together, and that’s precisely why it’s so valuable to offer a wealth of possible entertainment options.

We’re all into different things at Grinnell, which is what many of us love about this place, and that fact needs to be respected by the committees in charge of supplying us with choices. This means bringing movies like Twilight, a movie a lot of people enjoyed on Valentine’s Day (yes I admit it, I’m one of these). But it also means bringing Synecdoche, New York, for the small but undoubtedly die-hard group of Charlie Kaufman fans out there (yes I admit it, I’m one of these).

Also, remember another reason that films and concerts bring so many small-scale events is because they’re cheaper, hence getting the students more options for their money. What’s not economical about films’ strategy of bringing a handful of less well-known (or as is more often the case, simply less recently released) movies for the price of one box office giant, which we also bring? Also, the editorial’s suggestion that there are too many film screenings is irrelevant in terms of cost—we buy the rights upfront, it’s not like each screening costs more money. And about Concerts, bear in mind that big name doesn’t always equal big pay-off. Remember when the controversially expensive Jean Grae came and made fun of us for a whole set? Then remember when anti-mainstream circus punk marching band Mucca Pazza came and blew our socks off while sousaphoning our ears? Diversity + choices = way more possibilities than that new logo.

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