Reuters blog archive

from The Great Debate:

How Barack Obama killed John Wayne

The reason that President Barack Obama won reelection, as most everyone knows by now, is that older white males, on whom the Republican Party has long relied, are declining in numbers, while women and minority voters, key components of Obama’s base, are increasing.  In the electoral post-mortems, Obama’s victory has been considered a kind of valedictory to white male supremacy. But his win did something else: Obama killed John Wayne on Nov. 6 -- with the complicity of roughly 61 million Americans.

Now, Wayne has been dead for more than 30 years, of course. And Obama didn’t even slay his heroic image.  Americans still like brawny brawlers, and apply what I call “The Hollywood Test” in electing their presidential protagonist-in-chief, opting for the nominee who is most like a movie hero. What Obama and his supporters slew, however, was the value system Wayne personified – a whole way of thinking about America. It’s unlikely to resurface any time soon.

From the time he reached stardom in the 1940s, Wayne was not just a movie star, though he was one of the biggest. Nor was he just an icon, though he was one of the most compelling -- a whole generation of men imitated his bearish growl and lumbering walk. More important, Wayne presented values that many now associate with America itself.

As Garry Wills, who wrote an appreciative book about Wayne, put it, “The way to be an American was to be Wayne.” Rather than Wayne being stamped in the country’s image, the country -- at least white America -- seemed stamped in his.

from Fan Fare:

Rolling Stones fans ‘Star’-struck by censorship

(Corrects Bob Ludwig's first name in paragraph 10)

Rolling Stones fans are a grumpy lot these days. 
The band has not toured since August 2007, triggering a painful withdrawal period for acolytes of the death-defying rockers; a CD reissue program turned out to be an anticlimax; and now the Stones' new label has censored one of their raunchier tunes. 
goats1Universal Music has licensed the rights to the group's post-1960s albums, and released the first batch three weeks ago: remastered versions of "Sticky Fingers" (1971), "Goats Head Soup" (1973), "It's Only Rock 'N' Roll" (1975) and "Black And Blue" (1976). 
Fans were initially thrilled about the prospect of the new reissue program, contemplating discs jam-packed with bonus material. That soon turned to disappointment and then outrage when it emerged that any outtakes, demos and other goodies will stay in the vaults.  
The previous remastering program took place in 1994, when the band was signed to Virgin Records, and those discs remain the gold standard. (Universal has held back the reissue of 1972's "Exile on Main Street" until early 2010, promising "wider plans for this title.")
starstar1But sharp-eared fans at the Web site It's Only Rock n' Roll have noticed a difference between the Universal and Virgin versions of "Goats Head Soup," and they are not thrilled. In the groupie put-down "Star Star," a vulgar synonym for the female genitals has been obscured, as has a reference to late actor John Wayne. 
Both phrases were obscured when the album first came out in 1973. In fact the album's U.S. release was delayed by several months because Atlantic Records, the group's label at the time, wanted to drop the song completely. Moreover, the Stones were forced to change the original title, which has always been heard in its full glory, chanted about 65 times during the song.  
The Virgin reissue restored both the naughty word -- which begins with a "p" -- and the John Wayne reference to the couplet "Yeah, I'll make bets that you're gonna get John Wayne before he dies."
So who's to blame for the problem? No one is talking: That includes publicists for both the Rolling Stones and Universal, as well as officials at Marcussen Mastering Studios, the Hollywood firm handling the Universal reissues. 
It's likely Marcussen worked from the tapes supplied by the Stones camp. At least, that's what happened with the Virgin Records program, says mastering engineer Bob Ludwig, who handled that project.
"Sometimes the clients intentionally want us to change things," Ludwig said via email, recalling that the Stones requested a "small number of ... little changes," such as restoring Sonny Rollins' extended sax solo on the "Tattoo You" track "Slave." 
"When I did the re-mastering I was told that Keith (Richards) really got into it and set up a vinyl turntable, had someone re-buy all the original vinyl issues, and did lots of comparisons," Ludwig said.

If Universal ends up recalling the album or refunding fans, it shouldn't break the coffers at the world's biggest record company too much. The reissued album has sold fewer than 100 copies in the United States, according to a music industry source.

from Fan Fare:

Coen Bros. have “True Grit”

A wholesome tale of a young girl and a drunken -- but ultimately heroic -- old U.S. Marshall on coensthe trail of a killer in the Wild West. Does it sound like the stuff of a Coen Bros. movie, the writer/director team that brought fans comedies like "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" and modern crime dramas "Fargo" and "No Country for Old Men"?

Umm, not really. But in a few years, we're all going to find out.

Word comes in Daily Variety that Joel and Ethan Coen, who won the best movie Oscar for 2007's gritty drug drama "No Country," have signed up to reboot 1969's "True Grit" that won John Wayne an Oscar in the role of a hard-drinkin' marshall,  Reuben "Rooster" Cogburn. The young (14 year-old) girl was portrayed by Kim Darby, and the movie was a hit in its day.