The contretemps over “Good Morning America” co-anchor Lara Spencer mocking Prince George for taking ballet lessons is both a tempest in a teapot and the latest salvo in the culture wars that began with the demonization of Western civilization in the 1960s by liberals who could not separate it from its imperialistic, colonial roots and continued with the demonization of the arts in the 1970s and ’80s by conservatives who decried the arts falsely as a louche tax drain.
“We’ll see how long that lasts,” Spencer retorted to the news that the young prince is taking ballet lessons, with his father Prince William’s enthusiastic approval. It was the flippant, stupid remark of someone with no cultural background (remember her short-lived stint on PBS’ “Antiques Roadshow”?) trying to be witty or at least cool, and it was met with swift condemnation, a swift apology and a redemptive moment played out against the backdrop of 300 male dancers in Manhattan’s Times Square.
And that would be the end of it, except that, as one person put it, you can’t unring a bell, particularly in a divisive time in which every statement seems to be a clarion call to partisanship. Perhaps that’s unfair. We all make mistakes. We’re all more than our worst days. Yet Spencer’s ridicule cannot be undone, particularly for those who have been mercilessly bullied or marginalized for their love of the arts.
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The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute’s exhibit, “Camp: Notes on Fashion” (through Sept. 9) was inspired by Susan Sontag’s seminal 1964 essay “Notes on ‘Camp’,” which she defined broadly as style over substance characterized by theatricality, irony, playfulness, masquerade and unselfconsciousness. It’s a definition and a show that cuts a wide swath, but in the end it turns out to be less about camp and more about identity — its mutability and its ownership.
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Everyone is entitled to his opinion, until, of course, someone thinks he isn’t. Recently, three incidents have challenged our concept of freedom of speech.
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One of the more endearing but also infuriating things about Americans is their belief that anyone can do anything if he just works hard enough, fast enough. This is the “Dancing With the Stars” philosophy of life that says you, too, can be a ballroom dancer if you have three weeks of intense training and, possibly, Maksim Chmerkovsky as a partner.
This would be amusing if it weren’t sometimes so deadly. Now we have a president who lacks the talent, temperament, training and technique for the job and it shows in the country pulling unilaterally out of the Iran nuclear deal, moving its embassy to Jerusalem with violent consequences and now facing a North Korean pullout from the planned summit due to American-South Korean military maneuvers. …
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