In Lerwick, the capital of Scotland’s Shetland Islands, a fire festival named Up Helly Aa is held every January to mark the end of the yule season. Local participants called guizers celebrate their Norse heritage, dressing in Viking gear and marching through town with battle axes and torches as they drag a ceremonial Viking longboat. At the end of the procession, the guizers hurl their torches onto the longboat and set it ablaze. After the flames die down, guizers sing the traditional song “The Norseman’s Home” before a night of partying.
See more. [Reuters, AP, Getty]
Fire. This is what we need in winter celebrations. Also guizers (like the name).
I know I’ve been on Tumblr too long when the first thought that sprung to mind about Viking-celebratory festivals in Britain was “rape culture”.
In The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever, longtime critic and blogger Alan Sepinwall deftly tells the stories of twelve shows—from Oz to The Wire, Friday Night Lights to Mad Men—that helped transform television from cultural also-ran to the dominant medium of the first decade of the 21st century (give or take a few years). But the book is also, in its way, the story of another, complementary upheaval: the revolution in how television is covered.
So, it’s no surprise that The Revolution Was Televised has made media news of its own, rising out of the ranks of self-published books to receive a New York Times review and a spot on Michiko Kakutani’s Top Ten Books of 2012. (It was recently picked up by the Touchstone imprint of Simon and Schuster.) Here he talked to GQ about revolutions within revolutions:
GQ: Why do you think the networks have done such a better job staying innovative and sophisticated with comedies, as opposed to drama?
Alan Sepinwall: I don’t want to say that comedy is easier, because it’s not; you know the old saying, “Dying is easy, comedy is hard.” But at the same time, if something is funny it can more easily reach more people than something dramatic. You know, The Office was a really big hit for a while. Regardless of what it was saying about society and the media and all that, it was just Steve Carell being really, really funny.
GQ: Of the shows you left out, which have had the most vocal lobbies?
Alan Sepinwall: I’ve heard a lot about The West Wing. I have nothing against The West Wing, it was a great show. But it represented the past, as far as I was concerned: one of the last of the traditionally structured prestige network dramas. I’m asked a lot about Six Feet Under, too, and certainly there were persuasive arguments to be made for including it. I just didn’t want to do every single HBO show from that period and I just preferred the other four—Oz, The Sopranos, The Wire and Deadwood.
GQ: So where do you see the next frontier?
Alan Sepinwall: I’m interested in seeing what Netflix is going to do. I want to see if House of Cards is good, if Arrested Development is as good as it used to be. I also want to see how people react, because it’s going to change the nature of viewing things. And the nature of reviewing them, as well, because they’re putting all the episodes up at once. I’m not going to be able to review thirteen episodes of House of Cards before the first episode airs. It’s just not logistically feasible.
Alan Sepinwall also had an equally insightful interview with On The Media the other week.
After Benito Mussolini’s execution in 1945, his people, brutalized and bankrupted by five years of war, might have been more united in hatred for the Italian dictator than in patriotic pride. One of Il Duce’s nationalistic mandates, however, would have unlikely staying power. Determined to rid his country of outside influences, the dictator had banned all foreign words written or spoken, including those uttered in the new talking movies that arrived in the 1930s. The art of dubbing that grew to fill the hush, writes Italian screenwriter Chiara Barzini, has since given Italians Doppiaggese (“Translationese”), a language stripped of regional dialect and peppered with new words and phrases.
American movie studios tested several workarounds after Mussolini’s ban. Intertitles left Italian viewers, many illiterate, to watch in gloomy silence, so the studios devised technology that played speech over pictures. When, in 1933, Mussolini prohibited even foreign films that had been dubbed into Italian outside Italy, his compatriots developed a voiceover industry, producing “stunningly literal translations” of foreign words, even names. The practice continued long after the ban expired. Louis Armstrong became Luigi Braccioforte, for instance, and an Italian curse word was truncated to sync with the lips uttering its Anglo-Saxon equivalent.
“By the ’80s, a whole segment of Italy’s pop culture existed in Doppiaggese,” Barzini remembers. “As children, my friends and I took pleasure in calling one another the absurd phrases Italian dialogue adapters had invented. We became pollastrelle (‘chicks’), exclaiming ‘Grande Giove!’ (‘Great Scott!’) like Doc from Back to the Future.” Voice actors, who passed down their trade to their children, polished the craft to such an extent that their diction was considered “true” Italian. They were often called to lend their voices even to native speakers such as Sophia Loren, whose regional dialect did not, it was thought, measure up to her sophisticated looks.