Movies: “This film is not yet rated” … Documentary on Hollywood censorship

14 02 2012

This is a documentary film about MPAA’s ratings of movies, and discusses whether this is institutionalized censorship of movies or not.

MPAA ratings today

In the US, MPAA ratings of movies is well-known. These ratings are said to be recommendations about what audience groups a movie is suitable for. The ratings are according to a five level hierarchy:

  • G: “General Audiences” – All ages admitted
  • PG: “Parental Guidance Suggested” – Some material may not be suitable for children
  • PG-13: “Parents Strongly Cautioned” – Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13
  • R: “Restricted” – Under 17 not admitted without parent or adult guardian
  • NC-17: “No One 17 and Under Admitted”

Looking at the names of these levels, we see that the first three (G, PG, PG-13) are suggestive, in that they seem to give advice, while the last two (R, NC-17) express categorical prohibitions.

These ratings are part of the public image created by producers, distributors, and exhibitors. That is, in marketing of movies, you see these ratings clearly announced.

The images below show a part of the “Saw 3D” movie poster, and how “This Means War” is presented at movietickets.com:

"Saw 3D" movie poster

"Saw 3D" movie poster

"This is War" marketing

"This is War" marketing

On the movie poster, the rating (“R”) is highly visible compared to all other credits in this text-dense part of the poster. Hence, glancing at the poster is likely to inform you about its MPAA rating.

The column describing “This Means War” has the MPAA rating as third item from the top, preceding “genre”, “starring”, “director”, etc.

These two random examples indicate that MPAA rating is definitely an important part of the US world of movie business and pleasure.

The objective of the documentary

The film “This film is not yet rated” aims to investigate what these ratings mean, how ratings are decided, and what effects ratings can have on the movie industry.

"This Film is not yet Rated" dvd cover

"This Film is not yet Rated" dvd cover

Within the movie industry, the concept of MPAA ratings is well-known, as well as the importance of getting the most desirable rating of the movie you want to market. But the way ratings are set sometimes surprise persons with a good overview over the spectrum of movies produced during a decade or so. If you, as a movie producer, want to get a specific rating, what in the movie can get it that rating? Or what in the movie would prevent it from getting that rating? The process of deciding upon MPAA ratings is not transparent, and much confusion exists about the processes, preferences and priorities of the MPAA rating system. One could compare it to Kremlinology during the period of the Soviet Union, where important decisions were made behind closed doors, and where the effects of decisions could have major impact on the rest of the world.

This documentary aims to uncover what the MPAA rating is in practice, what it is officially stated to be, and whether it is appropriate to have these kinds of institutions in a well-balanced democratic society.

More on MPAA and control of movies in the US

MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) is an American industry association, basically a cooperation platform for the biggest Hollywood studios. Currently the following studios support MPAA:

  • Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
  • Paramount Pictures Corporation
  • Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc.
  • Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
  • Universal City Studios LLC
  • Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

It has broadened its scope to cover not only the movie sector, but also television and home video. This change corresponds well to the evolution of the Hollywood studios that survived., they had to include other channels and reaching other audiences.

In 1922 the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA) was created as a signal that the movie industry was embarking on what could be called social responsibility. One reason was the 1921 Fatty Arbuckle scandal , which raised a national uproar about “immoral behavior” of individual persons in Hollywood, and also cast doubts about the role of the movie industry as such. The first president of MPPDA was Will H. Hays, and his role was to defend the industry against attacks from many US organizations, mainly on religious and moral grounds. To avoid boycott at the movies, which could hit the studios hard, MPPDA embarked on campaigns to eliminate criticism.

At the end of the 1920s, there were some real threats that there might be federal legislation that could control what studios could do, and to avoid this, the MPDDA created the Motion Picture Production Code (commonly known as the “Hays Code”). This Code, accepted and supported by the major studios in 1930, was a set of detailed rules about what movies could show and what they must not show, ranging from bans of showing “suggestive dances” and homosexuality, to upholding the sanctity of marriage. During the first years of its existence, the Code was officially supported, but in practice, it did not constrain too severely the movies made by the studios. One could say that during this period it was intended to serves a real self-regulation within the studios. But studios were mainly interested in profits, and saw what created  success at the box office, so the Code had not much effect.

As criticism of Hollywood started to rise again, a change was instituted in 1934, with an industry agreement that all movies produced in the US, intended for public display, must obtain a certificate about adherence to a modified set of rules about acceptable movies. In effect, this was largely a framework for censorship. Even though there was no federal legislation that could ban movies from public display, as distributors in general also supported the Code, movies without a certificate were in practice not shown.

In 1946, the name of MPDA was changed to Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

This system of self-regulation was alive and well until the beginnings of the 1950s. At that time, there were court decisions that eroded the application of the Code, as well as protests from within the movie industry itself.

This escalated during the years, and in the 1960s everybody understood that the old Code was impossible to uphold. In 1968, MPAA (now with Jack Valenti as president) created the voluntary rating system, which replaced detailed rules about what movies can and cannot show, with a rating indicating suitable audience categories.

The system was voluntary, which means that there is no formal objection to producing, distributing , and showing whatever movie you want. Instead the ratings should serve as advice to potential audiences, with special emphasis on advice about what children and teenagers could and should not watch.

That the MPAA rating system was a voluntary system sounds fine. But formal freedom does not entail practical freedom. The rating system is controlled by three parties: MPAA, the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO), and the International Film Importers & Distributors of America (IFIDA). This is a significant fact, as NATO and IFIDA largely influence the distribution and display of movies. That is, if a movie does not get rated, then the effect can be that no distributor of theater owner wants to touch the movie — which means it can be commercially dead. There is also another aspect where the existence of rating has a monumental effect on commercial success. Marketing is based on advertising, and movies that do not get page space of air time for their advertisements will not be known to any sizable part of the candidate audiences. And if a film is not rated, media can refuse to provide advertisement space and time.

In this way, the rating system can effectively be a censorship system.

And this is the major issue that the documentary “This film is not yet rated” addresses.

What is achieved by this film?

The documentary has been directed by Kirby Dick. He has been making documentaries since the 1980s, which explains the smooth flow in this film.

The production of this film has been done by Independent Film Channel (IFC), in association with NetFlix, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Chain Camera Pictures, and Red Envelope Entertainment.

Themes that appear are: a short (fragmented) history of the Hays Code and the MPAA ratings; “deviant” movies made before institutionalized control of movies; types of objectionable themes and depictions; examples of surprising differences in ratings for what looks like very similar movie scenes; process of rating; who is on the MPAA rating board; how rating decisions can be appealed.

To put some meat on the topic, there are numerous short clips from movies — preceding the Hays Code, during the reign of the Code, and during the reign of MPAA ratings — that illustrate what can and what cannot be shown. Much nudity, of course. But as all such clips from other movies are quite short, they do not convey a real sense of the context for the chosen seconds of play time to display. So no need to get sexually aroused by this. It is mainly a potpourri of glimpses of what has at one time or another been accepted or condemned by MPDDA and MPAA.

By presenting some clips side by side, we can see how seemingly similar scenes different are rated quite differently. The implication presented is that the ratings actually prefer traditional, straight, non-adventurous sex in scenes, while having negative feelings when sexual roles are reversed, when there is potential homosexuality involved, when women are taking initiatives, when some deeper pleasure is expressed, etc.

Another theme is how strong violence can be accepted, but even moderate discrete sex is not accepted. This can be compared to modern European judgment (formal censorship, ratings, or informal judgments) on movies, where violence is regarded as more dangerous than sex.

One major thread in the documentary is the search for the identities of the rating board members. MPAA, who provides the organizational platform for the rating board, has covered the board in a veil of secrecy. No-one outside the MPAA should know who is on the board. And this is what Dick (and others) find unnatural. In a democracy, when some group makes decisions that can have a dramatic influence on the success of your work, should that group be anonymous? How can we feel assured that the group is really acting in the interest of all? Therefore, Dick, with the help of a private investigator, tries to track down the members. This thread of the story is like a detective story, where hidden cameras and binoculars are used, calling MPAA using fake identities, following cars to restaurants, etc. Dick does manage to find out the identities of the board.

A second question is whether these members are representatives of the categories of citizens that they purport to represent. As mentioned earlier, the rating system is mainly targeting parents, giving them advice on whether they should or should not let their children watch some movie. MPAA states that the board is composed of “average parents” with children of age 5-17.

As Joan Graves (MPAA Ratings Chief) says:

The ratings system exists for one purpose: to inform parents about the content of films. Our ratings reflect how we believe a majority of American parents, not just from large cities on the coasts but everywhere in between, would rate a film.  It’s a responsibility we take very seriously.

When we assign ratings to films, we do not make qualitative judgments; we are not film critics or censors. We are parents who ask ourselves the same important question during every screening: What would I want to know about this film before I allow my child to see it? The board makes ratings decisions based on the film in its entirety, not by comparison to other films.

 MPAA Ratings Chief Defends Movie Ratings (The Hollywood Reporter, Feb 23, 2011)

What Dick wants to investigate is whether the board members match the demographic profile as stated by MPAA: “parents of children between the ages of 5 and 17”. Now, having names on the board members, Dick gets information about the family situations of these members. And the result is that some, but not all, have children in that age span. Hence, MPAA is lying when it says we should be assured that the board is populated by parents who should “eat their own dog food”.

To further test what the rating process entails, Dick submits an early version of this documentary to get a rating. As it is crammed with sexually explicit material, it gets an NC-17 rating. Just to test the system, Dick makes a formal appeal to the MPAA ratings appeal board. This boards is also secret, and it was difficult to get any sensible answers to questions posed to MPAA. By some undercover work, most of the members of that board were discovered, and it turned out that they are representatives of industry — movie production, distribution, theaters. And they decided not to reverse the rating board’s decision. Case closed.

The documentary contains quite a lot of statements from persons on the fringe or outside the established movie industry. Of these, perhaps John Waters is the most well-known. We do get from these persons some refreshing statements about what movies can achieve if permitted some freedom, but also how the rating system introduced practical barriers to distribution and display of independently made movies.

What is missing?

"This Film is not yet Rated" - illustration seen on Amazon.com

"This Film is not yet Rated" - illustration seen on Amazon.com

OK, this movie wants to get some wider distribution, so it aims to position itself as an easy and entertaining story, not requiring much effort or stamina from the audience.  Television documentaries — the main channel for these kinds of works — need to take it easy in their storytelling. We see this here, in that quite a large part of this film concerns the investigation trying to uncover the names of the rating board members. So we get to see how a certain kind of investigative journalism can be done. And this is more attractive for screen audiences, compared to digging into libraries and archives looking for information. But “the chase” we see was not needed to be part of the film, It would have been enough to tell us the end results: “the board members are …”.

A more annoying aspect is that the MPAA’s role is not more clearly described. It is actually doing much more that movie rating. All matters of common interest to the movie industry can be handled by MPAA. The three main headings offered by MPAA at their home page are:

  • Film Ratings
  • Content Protection
  • Policy & Research

Actually, during last decades we have heard more about the MPAA campaigns against media piracy, than about movie ratings. Jack Valenti was for a long time a feared and hated opponent in the debates on copyright enforcement, and how he wanted to to introduce restrictions onto the Internet, to make sure that movies could only be accessed in acceptable ways.

If Dick had spent a little bit more time on clarifying that industry is using MPAA to control market and media, and what critical industry needs are, and how the MPAA acts in the interests of its supporting industry. Then the framework for MPAA rating can be better understood – and actually rational from the studios’ point of view – than what we get in this film: the rating process is a mystery.

Nevertheless, it is informative and entertaining to watch this documentary. It sheds some light on those rating acronyms that moviegoers see all over the US.

Conclusion

Entertaining, but not an in-depth study of the major forces that control the whys and whats and hows of the MPAA. The opinions expressed by the many movie people appearing here is enlightening, but other perspectives (e.g. from the studios) are missing. And too much time is spent on chasing the board members of the MPAA rating board. But probably this is one of the few practical ways of getting information about the MPAA rating system, unless you want to dive into some volumes of academic analysis of movie production.

Data

This Film Is Not Yet Rated” (2006). Directed by: Kirby Dick. Written by: Kirby Dick, Eddie Schmidt, Matt Patterson. Starring: Kirby Dick, Cheryl Howell, John Waters, Maria Bello, Atom Egoyan, etc. Running time: 1:37:51 (Movie at IMDB)





On the term of surrender in war … and the costs for the road to peace

10 04 2011

Just read the study by Perlman on the attitudes towards surrender conditions in the war against the Japanese in WWII. He digs into what the term “unconditional surrender” might mean, and reports that it meant different things to different [US] stakeholders.

—*—

His report — “Unconditional Surrender, Demobilization, and the Atomic Bomb” — provides some information that one should keep in mind when looking at the government’s decisions in our days about engaging and getting out of ware-like involvements. Perlman’s focus is on what happened in the policy-making arenas, when the objectives for the war against Japan was made more concrete, and when the rules for ending hostilities were formulated.

Winner takes all … responsibility for management

One interesting insight is that even a major country on the winning side in hostilities has limits on what it can engage upon after shooting ends. Perlman states that decision made by the allies was that for Germany, they as winner would take on the entire management of the German homeland. This means that they had to create a huge administrative apparatus, populate it with suitably skilled persons, and then run this foreign country for an unstated number of years. The main burden of this work lay on the military branch, specifically the army.

It was apparently obvious that the military arms of the US did not want to be involved in a similar complete take-over of Japan. At least one reason was that it was difficult to find persons to populate such a completely covering bureaucracy. Some important factors (though they are not stated by Perlman) may be language and culture. But also a feeling that maybe it would be better to rule “by proxy”. So instead of taking over Japan, which would imply a massive amount of occupation forces, it would be much more advantageous to get the Japanese to do the administration, but along the lines of a political and policy framework drawn up by the US.

Surrender … on what terms?

Looking at the military situation in the period late 1944 until summer 1945, there was on the horizon a dreaded invasion of Japan mainland. From a military-political point of view, the optimal outcome would be for the Tokyo to surrender unconditionally before an American invasion was launched. This would preserve some order in the administrative  system of Japan, and by command from top, that administration could then be the instrument for persistent pacification of Japan.

An alternative scenario was that no surrender was announced, the American invasion of Japan mainland would be launched, huge number of casualties would be seen, the American forces would have to fight for every yard of land, and at the end there would be nothing left of a useful societal administrative structure, and that would force the American Army to take complete responsibility for managing Japan.

This was a dilemma, that partly influenced the way “unconditional surrender” was explicated. Different parties took different stances here. Some were pragmatic, and said that “unconditional” meant “there will be conditions, but these will not be negotiable”; while others said that “unconditional” meant that the Japanese would have to surrender and have guarantees at all concerning what would happen.

This is where speaking with different voices was both a blessing and curse. A blessing because one could target different messages to different audiences, and thereby try to satisfy everybody, despite the fact that there was no consistently fully explicated policy about terms and conditions for surrender.

It was a curse, because some Japanese factions could — and did — interpret what they heard as a step-back from the kind of strict “unconditional surrender” that Germany had to accept. And that such a step-back was caused by lack of American determination, and a war weariness on the part of the American citizens. Hence, by not accepting “unconditional surrender”, the Japanese could at the end of the day get a better deal by emphasizing that they could only accept a cease-fire that would guarantee that some part of what they regarded as their empire would remain in their hands.

Johnny … wants to go home

Another complication was that when Germany surrendered, the American citizens in general experienced a general relief … the war was won, we can finally be at peace. The military branches were of course fully aware of the fact that hostilities were not over. In the Pacific theatre the Japanese were as yet undefeated.

But signing a cease-fire with Germany caused a general feeling of elation. In November 1918, a similar story unfolded. Immediately the mothers and fathers of the US raised their voices that their sons must come home. This despite the fact that the German Army was not fundamentally beaten, and there was still some uncertainty about what would happen in Germany. And the Congress raised the same demands.

Now much the same happened. To appease the citizenry and Congress, there started a program of sending home soldiers from Europe. This caused some of the units– that were designated to transfer to the Pacific arena — to effectively lose their ability to perform as a combat-proven unit. Many of the veteran soldiers were released and sent home. This had a bad impact on the resource plans for the invasion of Japan. Planned date had to be moved forward, in order to leave time for extensive training of new recruits.

A GI soldier often sees a different kind of war, compared what professional long-term high-ranking staff sees. A General typically has nothing to “go back to” after the war — the war is what makes sense to such a person. But GI Joe thinks otherwise — to be in uniform should only be for a short period, and then go “back home”.

Morale, an essential ingredient, was virtually spent in ETO [European Theater of Operations] divisions, including the elite airborne. General Maxwell Taylor tried “to stir up enthusiasm for new worlds  to conquer” in the 101st, one of only two Army divisions to have won a Presidential Unit Citation. “We’ve licked the best that Hitler had in France and Holland and Germany. Now where do we want to go?” The heroes of Bastogne and Normandy all screamed: “Home.”

(Perlman, p. 19, quoting from Maxwell Taylor, Swords and Plowshares: A Memoir (New York: Norton, 1972), p. 110)

Soldiers on the shores of Japan … or dropping the Bomb?

This sensitivity of the home front to small positive signs is what ultimately may turn out to create a storm in Washington. And the politicians have to take this into account, and devise their policies and decision-making accordingly.

So this may be an additional reason for the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan.

If the American citizens were tired, they might object to surrender conditions that would put more American boys at danger in the field. I.e., they could — through their direct or indirect pressure on Washington — create a situation that would bring advantages to Japan.

So this is another argument that the war objectives for the Pacific might have left the Bomb as the only viable alternative left, for a president that wanted to be really elected for president (Truman was voted in as vice president, and only became president when Roosevelt died during his last term in the White House).

What does it mean? For us here and now?

The “home front” is important. And that is also what the American military arms have understood. So nowadays — in the era of Iraq and Afghanistan — they downplay the costs, and exaggerate the effects of their missions.

We do see how several European countries have started revising their plans for getting out of these UN/Nato controlled campaigns, based on eroding expectations about lasting positive effects of their work, and on concrete individual losses.

And this is also something that the other side has learnt. if they can cause casualties and deaths, then the countries from which these soldiers come from may ultimately pull out. Then it does not matter if the individual soldiers are kind of even non-combatants. The only important criterion is that persons from country X will be killed in the filed, in these far-away battlefields. Then ultimately these soldiers will be pulled out. And that will make it more difficult for the countries that still have their soldiers there.

Author

Dr. Michael D. Pearlman has worked at the Combined Arms Center, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, since 1986 and has taught history for the Combat Studies Institute since 1989. He has a doctorate in history from the University of Illinois and a master’s degree from the University of Chicago. Aside from CSI, he has taught at the Universities of Illinois, Wisconsin, and Nebraska. His first book, To Make Democracy Safe for America, was published in 1984. This present study on World War II is part of a manuscript on policy in American wars from the colonial period to Desert Storm that Pearlman has just completed.

(from the back cover of the report)

Data

Michael D. Perlman: “Unconditional Surrender, Demobilization, and the Atomic Bomb“. Report, Combat Studies Institute, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, US. 1996.
On the Web at DTIC.mil (PDF) (visited April 10, 2011)

This Page: https://whenthenightcomesfallingfromthesky.wordpress.com/2011/04/10/on-the-term-of-surrender-in-war-and-the-costs-for-the-road-to-peace/




Bok: “Kristallnatten” — när pöbeln släpps loss

15 01 2011
"Kristallnatten"  - framsida

"Kristallnatten" - framsida

Natten mellan den 9 och 10 november 1938 inträffade “kristallnatten” i det nazistiska Tyskland. Under ett fåtal timmar plundrades och brändes synagogor och andra judiska bönehus i hela tyska riket. Detta blev en inledning till en ny fas i den tyska antisemitiska kampanjen, en fas som kom att  utmynna i Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka, och andra dödsläger. Öyvind Foss skriver om vad som hände under 1938 i sin bok “Kristallnatten“.

—*—

Bakgrund

Det nazistiska Tyskland hade sedan 1933 kontinuerligt skärpt lagar och regleringar för den judiska delen av sin befolkning. Tyska medborgare kunde nästa månadsvis se hur nya regelverk infördes, och hur det drabbade den judiska befolkningen, och hur det successivt byggde upp ett gap mellan “ariska” och “judiska” medborgare. “Lika inför lagen” gällde inte längre. En äkt-tysk skulle även bidra till segregationen, genom att rapportera fall där judar tog för stor plats, och där tyskar var alltför toleranta mot judar. På så sätt gjorde stora delar av befolkningen delaktiga i och  medskyldiga i det som skedde.

Nürnberglagarna från 1935 blev en tydlig brytpunkt, genom att principiella segregationslagar infördes. Judar fråntogs sitt medborgarskap, vilket alltså medförde att de förlorade det rättsliga skydd som medborgarskap medför.

1938

Den 7 november 1938 klev Herschel Grynszpan in på tyska ambassaden i Paris. Grynszpan, jude av tysk härkomst, hade blivit upprörd av att hans släkt, som stannat kvar i Tyskland, hade blivit utvisade till Polen den 26 oktober 1938. Desperat,  och utan möjligheter att hjälpa sin familj, begav sig Grynszpan till den tyska ambassaden, och med den pistol han förde med sig avlossade han ett antal skott mot ambassadrådet Ernst vom Rath. von Rath skadades svårt. Grynszpan greps av fransk polis.

Den 9 november dog von Rath. Detta lyftes omedelbart fram av tyska myndigheter. Goebbels höll uppeldande tal, med udden explicit riktat mot judarna.

Via informella kommunikationskanaler informerades polis och SA att de inte skulle ingripa mot kravaller, utan snarare vara behjälpliga. Som en storm över Tyskland startades samma kväll kravaller (egentligen pogromer) som omedelbart riktades mot allt som verkade vara knutet till judar.  Att det skedde så synkroniserat över hela Tyskland tyder på att det i själva verket var centralt organiserat. Idén kan ha blivit improviserad, med von Raths död som tändande gnista. Men genomförandet hade inte skett så samtidigt, om det inte varit centralt dirigerat.

Synagogor var tydliga mål för upploppen. Andra officiella judiska byggnader likaså. Dessutom all affärsverksamhet som ägdes av judar.  Synagogor plundrades och brändes. Judiska affärer slogs sönder och plundrades. Judar som råkade vara i närheten angreps fysiskt. Etthundra  judar dödades. 30 000 judiska män greps och fördes till koncentrationsläger.

Benämning “kristallnatten” hänsyftar på att man denna natt kunde se trottoarer i tyska städer beströdda av glassplitter — där gatljusen återspeglades som i kristaller.

I många fall gav upploppen ett skydd för utlopp av mer personlig aggression. Plundring var inte bara att förstöra för judar, utan även för plundrarna att berika sig själva, att få utlopp för upplevda oförrätter, och att skaffa sig makt och status i det lokala sammanhanget.

Efterspelet

Det internationella reaktionen var blandad. Vissa diplomatiska protester hördes, dock inte från alla omgivande länder. Dels fanns där  halvfascistiska länder som låg lågt, eftersom de kan ha sett sådana här händelser om användbara instrument i sin egen inrikespolitik. Andra länder ville inte stöta sig diplomatiskt med ett kraftfullt växande Tyskland. Att Storbritannien och Frankrike uttryckte ganska tydliga avståndstagande åsikter är inte att förvåna, eftersom de hade behov av att markera diplomatisk distans.

Den utländska pressen gav blandade reaktioner. Högerpressen kunde uttrycka förståelse för det som skett, och betrakta det som en intern tysk angelägenhet, och man köpte i viss utsträckning att detta var ett folks häftiga reaktion på att en av dess diplomater mördats i sin tjänst. Dessutom kunde en underliggande antisemitism lysa igenom i vissa pressorgan.

Andra tidningar rapporterade på ett mer upprört sätt om vad som skett. Det fanns på plats i Tyskland många pressrepresentanter för utländsk press. Många av dessa kunde personligt observera vad som skedde, och rapportera om detta. Å ena sidan fanns det en förvåning att något sådant kan ske i ett klassikt europeiskt kulturland, med tänkare som Goethe, Schiller och Kant. Å andra sidan kunde det ändå ses som ett resultat i  extrapoleringen av inrikespolitiken – det nazistiska Tyskland.

Det officiella Tyskland försökte naturligtvis rättfärdiga det som skett genom att skylla på judarna själva. Det var judarna som provocerat fram detta. Man kunde beklaga att det skett så omfattande förstörelse av egendom, men samtidigt berömde sig regeringen för att kraftfullt tagit greppet på upploppet så att det inte gick över styr. Men man beklagade inte offren, vilket var en tydlig signal till den egna befolkningen — “arier” såväl som judar” — att det som skett var i linje med en gällande politisk målsättning. Om detta var början, hur skulle det då kunna sluta?

Inrikespolitiskt kan denna natt ses som starten för ett mer fysiskt förtryck av judarna i Tyskland. Om förtrycket tidigare till största delen varit institutionaliserat genom tillämpning av lagar, så öppnades nu slussarna för mer pöbelliknande aktioner mot judarna.

Boken

Öyvind Foss bok är koncentrerad — på 120 sidor berättas förspelet, natten, och efterspelet. Vissa delar av texten är utförligt berättade, ibland med utförliga citat ur samtida arkivmaterial. Hör har boken sitt största värde. Vi får alltså förstahandsinblick i den tyska statsmaktens tänkanden och avsikter, uttryckt i deras egna ord. Visserligen innebär det att man måste lära sig läsa dessa texter på ett dåtida manér, men det är inga större svårigheter.

I kapitel 7 (“Regeringskonferensen den 12 november 1938”) citeras diskussionsprotokollet från ett möte med tyska regeringsmedlemmar. Ämnet för diskussionen var vilka åtgärder som man nu borde tänka på att införa, för att ytterligare avskilja judarna från det tyska samhället. Några extrakt ger en kuslig aha-upplevelse:

Goebbels: … Jag anser det också nödvändigt att det skapas bestämmelser som förbjuder judarna att besöka tyska teatrar, biografer och cirkusar.  … Man kunde överväga att ställa en eller annan biograf till förfogande för judarna här i Berlin, där de kan titta på judiska filmer.  … Det är till exempel fortfarande möjligt att en jude och en tysk kan hamna i samma sovvagn. Det måste komma bestämmelser från trafikministeriet om inrättning av egna kupéer för judar, som endast kan användas om alla tyskar har fått plats.

Goebbels: Jag vill inte uttrycka det så, men reglerna måste vara tydliga. Det måste också komma bestämmelser om att det är förbjudet för judar att besöka tyska badinrättningar, badstränder och rekreationsplatser. Även badstranden  i Wannsee. Vi behöver bestämmelser som förbjuder judar att besöka tyska rekreationsplatser.

Goebbels: Jag ser en mycket stor fara. Jag anser att det [är] nödvändigt att man ställer bestämda områden till förfogande för judarna — inte de bästa — och säger: På dessa markerade bänkar kan ju judarna sitta. Det kan stå: “Endast för judar!”  … Ett sista exempel. Det är faktiskt fortfarande en realitet att judiska barn går i tyska skolor. En omöjlig situation. Jag anser det för uteslutet att min pojke skulle sitta bredvid en jude i ett tyskt gymnasium och få undervisning i tysk historia.

(sid 69-71)

Här bör man känna ett obehag. Det är ju trivialt att byta några ord här och där,  och då få den här argumentationen att stämma överens med sydafrikansk apartheid, där mellan åren 1948 och 1994 just sådana typer av lagar separerade den vita minoriteten från den svarta majoriteten. Vad gäller apartheid blev omvärlden faktiskt mer bekymrad om läget efter Sharpevillemassakern 1959, men fram till dess betraktade utlandet apartheid som en intern sydafrikansk angelägenhet.

Men kanske mer motbjudande är att precis sådant här faktisk implementerats på amerikansk botten, i sydstaterna, där den typ av segregation som Goebbels här målar upp som en möjlighet, den segregationen var lagligt stadsfäst i sydstaterna mellan åren 1876 och 1965. Förfasar vi oss över att tyskarna kunde ens tänka sig sådan segregering på 1930-talet? Hur kunde vi då betrakta den amerikanska segregationen med överseende under hela dess existens? Var det för att USA blev en dröm om ett ideal, en dröm om framtiden, och att vi därför blundade för den amerikanska laggrundade segregationen? Eller är det så  enkelt som att vinnaren bestämmer spelreglerna. Nazityskland förlorade, så därför kan vi fördöma allt de gjorde. USA var en vinnare, och därför finns där inget att fördöma.

En svaghet med boken — vilket kan vara relaterat till dess begränsade sidantal — är att de återgivna enskilda levnadsödena inte får liv. Eftersom det hände så mycket under en enda natt, så finns det många människor som har historier att berätta, som offer eller som förövare. Men ingen sådan historia får liv. Ofta reduceras en upplevelse till en enda mening, följd av nästa enskilda upplevelse uttryckt med en mening. Och så vidare. Det är många sådana enskildheter som nämns, men ingen ges ett sammanhang så att man förstår hur det egentligen upplevdes, vilka stämningar som rådde. Det hade varit bättre att reducera antalet nämnda människoöden till ett litet antal, och låta dessas berättelse få mer av kött och blod.

Öyvind Foss

Öyvind Foss

Författaren

Øyvind Foss (født 2. juni 1934 i Kristiansand) er en norsk/tysk teolog (professor em.) og forfatter. Han er utdannet teolog ved Det teologiske fakultet ved Universitetet i Oslo  1961/62 og Det diakonivitenskapelige institutt ved Heidelberg Universität (1983/84); var frilansjournalist (særlig Dagbladet) og kandidatstipendiat i Berlin 1963-1968, og ble ordinert til prest i Oslo og Drammen i 1969-77. … Etter søknad permittert i 1992/93 og 1999/2000 for å være forskningsprofessor (DAAD) ved Det diakonivitenskapelige institutt ved Ruprecht-Karls-Universität i Heidelberg.

(Från norska wikipedia: Øyvind Foss)

Sammanfattning

Boken är ganska kort, ca 120 sidor, men det räcker för att ge en överblick över vad som ledde fram till Kristallnatten, vad som hände då, och det omedelbara efterspelet. Detta hände för 70 år sedan, 80 mil söder om Stockholm (motsvarar avståndet Stockholm – Luleå). Det var inte så länge sedan, och inte så långt bort. Boken “Kristallnatten” ger en bra påminnelse om vad som skedde, och kanske en lärdom för framtiden.

Data

Öyvind Foss: “Kristallnatten” (Optimal Förlag, Stockholm, Sweden; 2010) 135 sid; SBN 10: 9172411953; ISBN 13: 9789172411951 (book at openlibrary.org)

This page: https://whenthenightcomesfallingfromthesky.wordpress.com/2011/01/15/bok-kristallnatten-nar-pobeln-slapps-loss/




Book: “Dien Bien Phu 1954” — the tragic effects of misjudgements

31 12 2010

In May 1954, the first Indochina war ended with the surrender of the French military garrison at Dien Bien Phu. This was a decisive blow to France as a colonial power. From here and onwards, there was a continuous retreat from the French colonies  (even though the Algerian French thought they could turn history around).

Stone: "Dien Bien Phu" -- front

Stone: "Dien Bien Phu" -- front

But how could it go so wrong? What happened there in the mountains of Vietnam? What could have happened? This book gives some answers, but more or less constrains itself to the military perspective of the events leading up to the defeat in May 1954.

It is always good to be reminded about what happened way back in history. It can even now, nearly 60 years later, give us some hints to why plans have floundered as they have in Iraq and in Afghanistan.

Background

The French colonial empire was created during the 19th century. Africa and Asia were the targets of colonial expansion. And the south-east corner of the Asian mainland was regarded as an important building block in the great French Empire. What is now the countries of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia were then dominated by the French, and Vietnam was seen as the jewel of that crown.

In 1941, the Japanese invaded South-East Asia, and quickly took control of the territory. When the Japanese capitulation occurred in 1945, the French regained control of their old colonies.

Soon it became obvious that to everybody — the people of Indochina as well as other of people in other colonized parts of the world — the French would not leave Indochina. A nationalistically based liberation movement was now organized, originally populated by persons that had experience from fighting the Japanese.

After failed attempts to negotiate about some kind of  independence of the different regions of Indochina, the liberation front started armed uprisings. The French fought back, but could not really pursue a successful campaign against the Viet Minh, as the liberation army was called. The French could very well dominate in the urban regions, but the countryside was increasingly abandoned by the French.

Finally the French high command decided that a show-down was needed. By concentrating their forces in a special type of environment, they could attract the main parts of the Viet Minh forces, and decisively defeat them once an for all. And that special place was Dien Bien Phu.

The battle of Dien Bien Phu

The area selected was close to the Laotian border, in a broad valley surrounded by higher mountains. The idea was to force the Viet Minh to attack on the floor of the valley, and that is where the superior technical strike potential of the French would make the difference.

The main assumptions were that (1) the artillery of the French would be stronger that the enemy’s; (2) that French air power would be unstoppable, and could strike lethal blows on the Viet Minh; (3) that the French air transport forces would be able to deliver all necessary resources by air from Hanoi or the coast; (4) that the Viet Minh would not be able to establish themselves in the mountains above the valley, as French artillery would keep them down; and (5) that it would be impossible for the Viet Minh to provide artillery fire from the upper mountains.

The French at the floor of the valley, and Viet Minh on the mountains in the background

The French at the floor of the valley, and Viet Minh on the mountains in the background

As it happened, all these assumptions were invalid. The French seriously underestimated the size and energy of the Viet Minh forces, and they also overestimated the possibility of a high-tech armed force to be supplied through air during battle.

What happened was that the Viet Minh laboriously carried artillery pieces up the mountains, dug them in and camouflaged them, and was ultimately able to offer heavy bombardment of the French on the bottom of the valley, from the mountains above. The French were in a sense sitting ducks. Nowhere to run, and not strong enough to attack up the mountain sides.

In parallel, there were infantry attacks on the perimeter of the French fortifications. French outposts far away from the French HQ were overrun. The French were step by step forced to retreat into an area that was week by week becoming smaller.

The end

Finally the French high command understood that this was a losing battle. Not even French air power could be deployed with any success.

Now there happened one of those strange political episodes that we seldom hear about. The French military command proposed that the French government approach the Americans, and ask for their help. Two main options were identified. The first was about the Americans providing massive conventional military resources to get the French out of their troubles. This could be by dispatching large infantry divisions to the Dien Bien Phu area,  providing massive air strike support there, or similar measures. The second idea was that the Americans would drop nuclear bombs on the Viet Minh forces!

That the military situation for the French was desperate is obvious, as the French requests for  American assistance ranged from massive conventional support to support by preposterous means.

Informal contacts with the Americans clarified that the Americans did not want to get involved by taking over the fighting in Vietnam. A main reason was that they were fully occupied in Korea at the time (the Korean war!) and did not want to take on military actions in yet another area of Asia. Also, they were unwilling to be too much associated with the French colonial power. They foresaw that the French would have to leave, and it would be better if the next regime in Vietnam would be willing to have a positive attitude towards the US.

We should probably be grateful that nuclear bomb technology was, at this point in time, not in the hands of the French forces. Their first nuclear test was not performed until 1960.

As it became clear that no military support would come, the French had only three options. Firstly they could simply surrender , with the rationale that the military situation was hopeless. Secondly, they could stay and fight until the end, which would not be very far into the future. Or, thirdly, they could break out of the encirclement, and retire across the Laotian border to safety.

The third alternative was attempted, but it did not succeed. A handful of persons managed to sneak away into the jungle and pass the border into safety on the Laotian side. But the main parts of the troops that attempted this escape were decisively beaten and forced to retire to their old fortifications.

This left only option and and two. And surrender was not contemplated. The French honour required that one fight until definitely beaten in the field. So the military order was: “Fight until the end.”

At 17.30 on May 7, 1954, Viet Minh has conquered the French HQ bunker

At 17.30 on May 7, 1954, Viet Minh has conquered the French HQ bunker

And the end came on May 7, when the Viet Minh forces finally occupied the French HQ in Dien Bien Phu. At that point, the French could  capitulate according to honorable military traditions. 11,000 French military personnel were taken into captivity on that day. Of these, 3,000 would ultimately return to France. The majority of the rest succumbed to the hardship of imprisonment.

Consequences

On the political level, the fall of Dien Bien Phu was a key event that caused the Geneva Accords in 1954, an agreement by which France would leave Indochina. Not only was this the political starting point of the now emerging countries of Indochina. It was also a significant signal to other colonialised countries. Firstly, the independence movements in French North Africa got fuelled by the defeat of the French by native forces. Secondly, this also put pressure on the British in some of their colonies to initiate a process whereby national independence could be achieved.

Conclusions about the book

This book is rather short, but it is well organised as a description of the military adventure of Dien Bien Phu. Its objective is to describe this as a military plan and the way it was executed. So there is quite a lot of discussion of whether this or that was a good military decision.

What is not so strong in this book is the role of  this episode in a global political landscape. What was the political history of the French in Indochina? What were they hoping to achieve by retaining the these as traditional colonies? What political options were contemplated? How did national “home politics” influence the government’s decisions about Indochina? Questions like these are not answered in this book.

Anyway, taking its constraints into account, it is an easily readable and informative book about an episode in history, where a Western power engages in fighting an enemy that is difficult to detect in the landscape. As we currently see some such military adventures going on in our days, it can be wise to see what happened when formally superior forces were defeated by a “barefoot army”.

Data

David Stone: “Dien Bien Phu” (Brassey’s, London, 2004) 128 pgs; ISBN-10: 1857533720; (book at openlibrary.org)

This page: https://whenthenightcomesfallingfromthesky.wordpress.com/2010/12/31/book-dien-bien-phu-1954-the-tragic-effects-of-misjudgements/




Bok: “Statlig rasforskning” — vardagen på rasbiologiska institutet

23 12 2010
"Statlig rasforskning"

"Statlig rasforskning"

Det svenska rasbiologiska institutet hade sin beryktade storhetstid från 1922 till 1933. Under de åren var Herman Lundborg — med rollen institutschef — oftast mer av en agitator än en vetenskapsman, och de budskap han marknadsförde hade genklang i delar av det makthavande Sverige. Det mesta som skrivits om institutet har fokuserat på politiska dimensioner och på kultur- och idéhistoriska trender. Denna lilla bok — Gunnar Broberg: “Statlig Rasforskning” — kastar ett intressant komplementärt ljus på institutet och Herman Lundborg, nämligen den administrativa bilden av institutets dagliga verksamhet. Det som här berättas förstärker bilden av att institutet/Lundborg måhända hördes starkt i den publika och icke-publika debatten, men att det inte blev så mycket bestående effekter av dess verksamhet.

—*—

Det som Broberg  redovisar i denna bok baseras på studier i Rasbiologiska institutets arkiv, såsom det bevarats i Uppsala Universitetsbibliotek. I arkivet blandas stort med smått, men inte förvånansvärt är den  övervägande delen av materialet en avspegling av den rutinmässiga vardagen. Och det är just detta som Broberg bearbetar. Dvs, hur kan vi idag beskriva den dagliga rutinen på institutet? Hur administrerades verksamheten? Hur leddes den? Vilka motgångar upplevde institutet? Och vilka framgångar?

Den historia som serveras i boken ger en bild av att Rasbiologiska institutet under hela sin existens levde med vad som upplevdes  som alltför snåla anslag. Och det var nog inte bara en upplevd känsla — det var nog mycket begränsade anslag jämfört med dels vad som externt förväntades att  institutet skulle göra, dels vilka ambitioner Lundborg hade med sitt institut.

Det var en ständig jakt på anslag, en ständig jakt på privata sponsorer och mecenater, med oftast väldigt magert utfall. Trots att kostnaderna ökar över åren — inflationen gör kostnaderna numerärt större — så ökade inte anslagen, vilket i praktiken medförde att anslagen de facto kontinuerligt minskade.

Det fanns i den relativt lilla personalstaben även personkonflikter, som antingen gav upphov till eruptioner och att folk flyttade någon annanstans, eller att agg doldes under en till synes lugn yta. Personalpolitiken fungerade aldrig, bl.a. därför att Herman Lundborg inte kunde hantera sin personal på ett smidigt sätt.

I många avseenden kan de som i dessa dagar arbetar inom akademiska institutioner känna igen sig. “Det är ju så det är för oss, nu. Vi jagar ständigt efter forskningsanslag, och de flesta förslag vi lämnar in resulterar inte i några anslag. Så var inte situationen för det  Rasbiologiska institutet likvärdigt med den situation som är så vanlig för många i dagens forskningsvärld?”

Jo, det kan så vara. Trots alla motgångar och en ekonomi som ständigt framtvingade kompromisser i lagda planer och uttryckta ambitioner, trots detta producerades ett antal doktorsavhandlingar av personal som var verksamma vid institutet. Men även här kan man nog se en analogi till dagens doktorandsituation. Det är oerhört mycket icke avlönat arbete som ligger bakom avhandlingen. Så det var väl därför som personal kunde disputera baserat på arbete utfört vid Rasbiologiska institutet under de kärva åren på 1930-talet.

Dessutom var de teman som bearbetades i avhandlingarna inte direkt i linje med Lundborgs mer extrema vision om vetenskapligt underbyggs rashygien. Personligt erkännande för en doktorsavhandling betyder inte ett erkännande av institutet som en framstående aktör.

Det är därför jag påstår att Rasbiologiska institutet drev och deltog i många propagandaaktiviteter, och skapade under 1920-talet ett visst intresse för rasfrågan och för institutet, men att det inte orsakade så speciellt stora effekter inom det vetenskapliga eller samhället i stort.

Kanske man kan karaktärisera Lundborg och institutet med frasen “tomma tunnor skramlar mest”.

Gunnar Broberg

Gunnar Broberg

Författaren

Född 1942, FD idé- och lärdomshistoria 1976, visiting professor Berkeley 1978, Fellow Wissenschaftskolleg 1987-88, prof i idé- och lärdomshistoria i Lund sedan 1990, fellow SCASSS 1998, dekan hist fil 1998-2002, preses Vetenskapssocieteten i Lund, ordf Kungl. Vetenskapssamfundet Lund, ledamot Statens kulturråd sex år mm.

Forskningsintressen: Linnaeus, Cultural history, History of concepts, Man’s relation to animals.

(från Lunds universitets webbplats)

Sammanfattning

Brobergs “Statlig rasforskning” är en intressant skrift, som ger oss en mer mångdimensionell bild av institutets och dess verksamhet. Han diskuterar inte institutet ur ett idéhistorisk eller kulturhistoriskt perspektiv, inte heller institutets roll i den politiska sfären. Sådana frågor har bearbetats tidigare (se t.ex.  Lennart Lundmark: “Allt som kan mätas är inte vetenskap”, studentuppsatser om rasbiologiska institutet). Nej, här får vi lära oss något om verksamhetens dagliga rutiner, dess förändringar, och olika personers roll i att hålla institutet och dess verksamhet vid liv. Det är väl så nära institutets vardagsliv vi kan komma, så här 80 år efter institutets höjdpunkt. Och den information som vi får här hjälper till att placera institutet på rätt sätt i i rummet av samhällsaktörer.

Ett bra sätt att sammanfatta vad boken handlar om ges av följande citat ur boken själv:

I rätt stor detalj har vi skildrat Statens institut för rasbiologi från de första åren på 1920-talet till dess det uppgår i Uppsala universitet som institutionen för medicinsk genetik 1958. Från början hade det stora förhoppningar knutet till sig, men en bit in på 1930-talet hotade fiasko. Skälet var en tungrodd administration och en otymplig chef. Institutet låg fel politiskt innan vändningen kom vid 1930-talets mitt. Vi har följt verksamheten under dess tre chefer: Herman Lundborg, Gunnar Dahlberg och Jan Arvid Böök. Men institutionshistoria är inte bara ett antal biografier med vidhängande anekdoter. Tycker någon att betoningen legat alltför mycket på chefsnivå har ändå andra namn också beretts plats, liksom den dagliga verksamheten. Framför allt har de första tio-femton åren inventerats, och det av det enkla skälet att källmaterialet är rikare för den perioden. Institutets historia har framför allt setts inifrån, medan samhällsutvecklingen i stort bara skymtat. Detaljrikedom är inte detsamma som fullständighet, men en avsikt med den här studien är i alla fall att så gott det går bevisa vad som egentligen hände. Med hjälp av en sådan faktabetonad historia kan man sedan gå vidare mot en djupare analys.

(sid 82)

Noter

Tack till Gunnar Broberg som var vänlig nog att överlämna ett exemplar av denna bok till mig.

Data

Gunnar Broberg: “Statlig rasforskning – En historik över rasbiologiska institutet” (Idé och lärdomshistoria, Lunds universitet in Lund, Sweden, Andra upplagan, 2002) 108 sid, ISSN: 1102-4313 (book at openlibrary.org).

This page: https://whenthenightcomesfallingfromthesky.wordpress.com/2010/12/23/bok-statlig-rasforskning-vardagen-pa-rasbiologiska-institutet/




Tidskrift: Kulturens Värld 2010/4 – glimtar

21 12 2010

En spretig uppsättning artiklar, några intressanta, andra mer kuriosa.

Kulturens Värld 2010/4 - framsida

Kulturens Värld 2010/4 - framsida

Kulturens Värld vill ju hålla en bred kulturbevakning, och drar sig inte för att lyfta fram sådant som annars inte skulle anses värt att tryckas och spridas. På gott och ont. Vissa gånger är det en välgärning. Andra gånger något som man kan ignorera.

De nummer som vi sett under den gångna tiden har inte varit temanummer, och så inte heller detta. Det betyder att många kan säkert hitta något som intresserar just dem. Men personligen kändes det denna gång lite för mycket som ett “coffee table magazine” — vackert och trevligt att ha liggande framme som en intellektuell markör, men som enbart ger kort glädje när man börjar bita i den.

Några saker lyfter jag fram här.

“Ensam kvinna bland 1947 års män” – Randi Fisher

Norrköpings museum uppmärksammar Randi Fisher (1920-1997) med en utställning som pågår fram in i nästa år. Fisher tillhörde den unga generationen konstnärer som förespråkade en mer samhällsengagerad konstnärsroll. I demokratisk anda ville de lyfta ut konsten från de slutna, fina salongerna, ut bland folket.

Hennes namn har väl aldrig varit speciellt känt. Hon var en i gruppen 1947 års män (!), en grupp som i övrigt hade följande medlemmar: Lennart Rodhe, Olle Bonniér, Karl Axel Pehrson, Pierre Olofsson,  Olle Gill, Lage Lindell, Armand Rosander, Uno Vallman, Liss Eriksson och Knut Erik Lindberg. Och ja, de flesta av dessa har fått stor ryktbarhet. Men Randi, som enda kvinna i gruppen, fick aldrig samma stora uppmärksamhet och erkännande.

Randi Fisher: Självporträtt 1943

Randi Fisher: Självporträtt 1943

Då nu Norrköpings Konstmuseum gör denna satsning på att lyfta fram en oförtjänt förbisedd konstnär, så passar Kulturens Värld på att ge en kortöversikt över Randis breda, och faktiskt långa, verksamhet som bildkonstnär.

“Kustens Kulturarv” — Norge

Den norska kusten och Norges utsträckta läge i Norra Atlanten var förutsättningar för att Norge kan betrakta sig som ett havets folk. Landskapet och klimatet var inte så vänligt mot traditionell odling, så havet fick fungera som en trygghetsförsäkring. Rikt fiske och transport, och handelsförbindelser till kontinentala Europa och de brittiska öarna, detta bidrog till att levnadssättet vid havet inte försvunnit så snabbt och fullständigt som på många andra ställen i Europa.

Denna artikel tar upp satsningar på kulturarvet i Trondheimsfjorden, speciellt i trakterna i och kring Rissa. Lofotsfisket har varit — och till viss del är fortfarande — en del i det ekonomiska kretsloppet, även om teknik och metod förändrats drastiskt. Men i början av 1900-talet startade en aktiv rörelse för att bevara det som man såg försvinna i och med moderniseringen. Författaren Johan Bojer var en bygdens son, och de teman som han skrev om väckte en bred medvetenhet till liv, om att man skulle vara stolta över vad tidigare generationer åstadkommit.

Nu finns en folkhögskola, i området och ett museum med kustkultur, samt regelbundet återkommande evenemang där man tar del av traditionsfyllda sätt att vara och göra.

Traditionella Åfjordsbåtar byggs fortfarande
Traditionella Åfjordsbåtar byggs fortfarande

Dessutom …

… en snabbtitt på kuststaden Essaouira (Marocko); om Bergholtz klockgjuteri i Sigtuna; ett besök hos konstnären Hans Westlund i Munkfors; om Alexander den store/den förskräcklige; m.m.

Data

Kulturens Värld” nr 4 2010 (Ordens Musik AB, 2010)  66 sid, ISSN 0282-5902

This page: https://whenthenightcomesfallingfromthesky.wordpress.com/2010/12/21/tidskrift-kulturens-varld-20104-glimtar/




Bok: “Kulturen 2010 – Folkkonst & Design” — Gammalt som inspirerar modernt

17 12 2010
Kulturen 2010 - framsida

Kulturen 2010 - framsida

Årsboken 2010 från kulturhistoriska föreningen i Lund har som tema folkliga former och mönster som på olika sätt inspirerat modern design. Årsboken är en uppföljare till utställningen med samma namn på Kulturen i Lund.

Här kommer några kortare kommentarer om innehållet i några av kapitlen.

“Att formge med den folkliga känslan i behåll”

Modern design plockar upp metoder, tekniker, material och förhållningssätt från gamla tiders folkliga hantverk.

Det som skapar ett visst spänningsfält är att konstnärlig utbildning i allt större utsträckning fokuserar på nya innovativa ansatser, tekniker, material och förhållningssätt. Det är en ideologi som lever kvar alltsedan konstvärlden för hundratrettio år sedan  skakades av den unga konstnärsgenerationens revolt mot det etablerade akademiserade utbildningsväsendet och mot det tillbakablickade konstetablissemanget. Det nya upplevs som bra just därför att det uppstått i den nya världen där tankar och idéer bryter sig loss från gamla traditioner vilka ses som irrelevanta.

Så kan man i dagens värld få något värde av att titta tillbaka och stimuleras av lösningar från historien?

Några konsthantverkare/konstnärer får här uttrycka hur de ser på detta som utmaning och möjlighet.

Bengt & Lotta: "Lyftet" (2003)

Bengt & Lotta: "Lyftet" (2003)

Här finns ånyo ett verk av Katarina Brieditis, ett verk som även omnämndes och illustrerades i tidskriften Konsthantverks första nummer detta år.

“Folkliga förebilder”

Om inredningsarkitekten Åke Axelsson, och hans arbeten med stolar, där idéer plockats upp från traditionella bondestolar, men anpassats och kompletterats för att svara upp mot dagens krav och behov.

“Märk väl!”

Här handlar det om alla de märkningar som sattes på våra föremål förr i tiden. Då vi nuförtiden märker våra ägodelar så är det av stöldskyddsskäl, medan märkning förr i tiden oftast var en del i dekorerandet av föremål.

Tänk på allmogeskåpen, där initialer och årtal ofta målades på skåpdörrarna. Eller de dekorerade och initialmärkta strykbrädena. Eller sänglinne med broderade initialer. Och så vidare.

Här finns mycket roligt att upptäcka, speciellt som man kanske inte är van att detaljstudera vad märkningen uttrycker och hur märkningen utförts.

“Samtal med historien”

Några av vår tids konstnärer lyfts fram, just för att de på sina egna sätt förhåller sig till ett kulturhistoriskt arv.

Matz Nordell: karmstol "I naturen" (2008)

Matz Nordell: karmstol "I naturen" (2008)

“Brudar; jungfrur; prinsessor och annat folk”

Bröllop har alltid associerats till fest och högtid. Bland annat finns det en stor uppsättning stabila traditioner vad gäller det visuella intrycket som ett bröllop ska skapa.

Brudgumsskjorta 1844

Brudgumsskjorta 1844

Hur ska man kläda sig? Hur ska man pryda sig? Vilken roll har bröllopsfotografiet?

“Dräktmod”

Några gamla exempel på dräktmode, och ett antal nydesignade klädedräkter. De senare  beställdes av Kulturhistoriska föreningen, som ett uppdrag till  Beckmans Designhögskola, och det var studerande som genomförde arbetet.

Sammanfattning

Ett blandat potpurri. Saknar ett tydligt fokus. Ger ett intryck av att det är en samling lättviktiga texter, avsiktligt lagda på en nivå som gör att de inte skall kännas tunglästa.- Men det går ut över innehållet, som känns mindre rikt än det annars kunde vara.

Data

Folkkonst & design — Kulturen 2010” (Kulturen i Lund, 2009) 166 sid; ISBN-13: 9789187054013; ISSN: 04545915 (book at openlibrary.org)

This page: https://whenthenightcomesfallingfromthesky.wordpress.com/2010/12/17/bok-kulturen-2010-folkkonst-design-gammalt-som-inspirerar-modernt/