Monday, 2 November 2009

Children, Art and Law

Laura Cumming's piece in yesterday's Observer adds an interesting extra level to the blog posted here in October on Brooke Shields. The detail above is taken from Bronzino's An Alegory with Venus and Cupid, a painting that has hung, apparently without problem, in the National Gallery for many years. Cumming explains some of the context and coverage of this image in her piece  When juxtaposed with work such as that of Tierney Gearon and others it provides a useful way of trying to undertand the context within which we see children within art, and how the way we view this can be constructed.

Justice, Media and Public conference: Changing Public Perceptions in the New Media Landscape

There is an excellent conference taking place next March that some of you may be interested in attending, or even contributing to. This is organised by Rob Mawby from Leicester, and Lieve Gies (Keele). Lieve is a renowned academic working in the area, her book Law and the Media (front cover image above) being a very important intervention for law and popular culture. The conference takes place on 25 and 26 March 2010 at Keele University with some great speakers alreday confirmed, but there is still time to submit an abstract if you are interested in attending this. More details of the conference are available via the conference website and it is also publicised via our Journal site, indeed the current issue of this is the special issue on Celebrity Big Brother, edited by Lieve herself.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Policing Art - Brooke Shields and the Metropolitan Police

The Tate Modern's new exhibition, Pop Life, looks to already have created a furore. I have not visited it myself yet, having preferred to take the short walk from work to the Royal Academy to see the superb Anish Kapoor exhibition, but will report back once I have done in the next few weeks.  On 1 October, the day the exhibition was due to open to the public, the Guardian reported  that the Tate had pulled one particular exhibit, Richard Prince's Spiritual America.  His piece contains an image of the 10 year old Brooke Shields, authorised by her mother and originally taken by the photographer Gary Gross in 1976 for the Playboy publication, Sugar and Spice. A cropped version of this image appears above. The photo was subsequently used by Richard Prince as the basis for his own piece. Initially, he put the photo in a gilt frame and displayed it, without any label, in a shopfront in a part of run down New York. Apparently there was very little complaint when it has been  shown previously, including recently in the US as part of a Richard Prince Retrospective at the Guggenheim. For the Tate installation of Spiritual America, the photo hung, in  its tacky frame, on its own inside what Adrian Searle called a 'dark red and womb like' room. However, the gallery was visited by the Metropolitan Police and the display has been, to use the words of the Tate, 'temporarily closed down' and the catalogue withdrawn from sale. I have blogged before about the regulation of art, and indeed discussed a visit to the exhibition Seduced last year with my LLM students. This case also appears to have echoes of previous problems galleries have had involving the use of images of children, involving Robert Mapplethorpe and Tierney Gearon amongst others. No doubt time well tell what will become of this particular exhibit, and a view of the comments via the Guardian website shows that the area is one that provokes strong emotions, but a moot point is whether we feel the police should be regulating art, and how the law operates in this area? This question is one that will run and run.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

File sharing - the industry changes tack.

You may have seen this advert in the Guardian on 28th September. Its an interesting change of approach for the music industry who have previously tried using various tactics and techniques to deal with the issue of file sharing.  This has included threatening end users and internet providers, and bleating loudly to anyone who will listen. It is particularly interesting for readers of blogs, as the full page advert paid for by UK Music is actually a reproduction of a blog posting by the lead singer of the indie band Future of the Left earlier in the year. The advert has created a lot of discussion, not least on the excellent Guardian musicblog, and is a further reminder that the music industry is trying desperately to deal with the issues created by technology, and failing to properly embrace them.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Edwyn Collins and Teenage Fanclub

I have blogged about Edwyn before, but just been alerted by my good friend Richard to what looked like a fantastic night in Glasgow recently, with Edwyn playing with Teenage Fanclub, and some clips from the gig are available here. It looked like a top night out. Its great to see that Edwyn is going from strength to strength, his wife Grace also published a book recently Falling and Laughing: The Restoration of Edwyn Collins which is well worth a read.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Hate Speech and homophobia

In 2004, the CPS examined whether Beenie Man could be prosecuted over a series of lyrics that allegedly incited the murder of gay men. At the time there was no offence of inciting homophobic hatred. In March 2008 Stonewall commissioned a survey of experiences and fear of homophobic crime in Britain, the results of which were published in Homophobic Hate Crime: The Gay British Crime Survey 2008 . One of the recommendations was that police should investigate all such crimes reported to them, and where relevant to explain the reasons why a decision  to prosecute was not taken. The Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 s74 now provides for an extension of hate crime to cover hatred on grounds of sexual orientation, although this is not yet fully in force. This year, the Coroners and Justice Bill was introduced in the House of Commons and the Report stage for this is due to take place on 21st October 2009. Contained in this Bill is Clause 58, now Clause 61, which deals with hatred against persons on grounds of sexual orientation and provides that:  ‘In Part 3A of the Public Order Act 1986 (c. 64)(hatred against persons on grounds of sexual orientation etc), omit section 29JA (protection for discussion or criticism of sexual conduct etc)’. Section 29JA of the Public Order Act 1986 provides that: ‘For the purposes of the offence of stirring up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation, discussion or criticism of sexual conduct or practices or urging persons to refrain from or modify such conduct is not, in itself, to be taken to be threatening or intended to stir up hatred.’ This proposed modification has been subject to criticism from various religious groups, this one from Network Farnham being fairly representative.
It will be interesting to see where this all leads, and in what form the legislation here finally appears, but its interesting to think about its application to instances including some of the chanting directed at Sol Campbell for which a number of people were found guilty and recent disquiet over chants directed at Arsene Wenger, resulting in the removal from Amazon of CDs containing these chants.

Monday, 7 September 2009

The Light that Pours Out of Me

The mention of The Smiths in my previous post reminded me, in an oblique way, of a fantastic gig that I went to last week. Morrissey and Radiohead have both been known to cover songs by this seminal post punk band, and the gig itself was superb - really showing that not only can bands reforming (sometimes) be a good idea, but also that some music really stands the test of time and that music made thirty years ago can still be relevant, important and modern. The band, of course, were Magazine. A clip from the gig, supplied by my dear friend Bob the Chiropodist, can be found here.

Le Secret de Mayerling

Sixty years ago this week this film was premiered in the Old Cinema at what is now the University of Westminster. I have written previously of some of the distinguished film history of the University, and further details are available via the Compton Club.
The advert opposite is from the University magazine of the time, and notes that the French Ambassador was in attendance. The film itself was written and directed by Jean Delannoy, and is based on the Mayerling incident from 1889, and the murder/suicide of Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria. The film starred Jean Marais, someone who first came to my attention as the cover star of The Smiths 'This Charming Man', the cover of which is reproduced below. I have been considering for a while the possibility of screening some of these historic films that have been premiered at the University to illustrate the unique and important history of our cinema. In terms of a screening, the problem with 'Le Secret de Mayerling' is not so much that it is in French, but rather that there are no English subtitles! However, it may be that we perhaps show Terence Young's 1968 film Mayerling, starring Omar Sharif, and based on the same incident, as a celebration of this event. Please keep an eye on the Compton Club website for details of this, and future, screenings.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

London 2012, ambush marketing and civil liberties

A recent article in the Guardian, Special Powers for 2012 Olympics alarm critics details some of the potential implications of the legislation ostensibly dealing with ambush marketing, but potentially impacting upon broader public order issues, particularly the right to protest. The use of protest in sport is well chronicled, and I have previously written on protest in the context of cricket and the anti-apartheid movement with Steve Greenfield in Sociological Focus. Peter Hain has also written on this area extensively from a personal perspective. Outside of the protest aspect, this provides a further reminder of the difficulty of trying to marry the Olympic ideal with commercial exploitation.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Celebrity Big Governing Celebrity: Multiculturalism, Offensive Television Content and Celebrity Big Brother 2007

The Centre for Law, Society and Popular Culture invites you to a seminar to launch a special issue of the Entertainment and Sports Law Journal on Friday 8 May 2009, 2-4 pm, at The Law School, 4 Little Titchfield Street, London W1W 7UW in Room 2.05a. In January 2007, the fifth series of Celebrity Big Brother caused outrage and widespread condemnation when three contestants, including most notably the reality television star Jade Goody, were accused of racism towards their fellow contestant Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty. The contributions in the special issue offer a multidisciplinary analysis of the ensuing scandal that caused diplomatic tensions between India and the UK and triggered a record number of complaints to the media regulator Ofcom. The Session will be chaired by Professor Les Moran (Birkbeck), and a selection of papers from the special issue will be presented. These will include Dania Thomas (‘Race and the refusal to name racism: consumption, identity and choice in the Celebrity Big Brother House’) and Lieve Gies (‘Celebrity Big Brother, Human Rights and Popular Culture’). The papers will be discussed by Bettina Lange (Oxford). The special issue will be available by the end of April at:

A FREE EVENT. All welcome. RSVP and further information from Danilo Mandic:

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

PhD Studentships

The University of Westminster is offering a number of PhD research studentships, two of which (at least) may be of interest to readers of this blog. Ones I am involved in include:
1 Ticketing and the Olympics 2012: Social Inclusion and Exclusion
2 Regulation and Reception of Paranormal Media
Feel free to pass on however you feel fit! More details of the law studentships is available here. More details of the Centre for the Study of Law, Society and Popular Culture is available here, all the members are available to supervise PhDs in various areas of law and popular culture and beyond.

Friday, 30 January 2009

Taking Liberties...

 I went along to the British Library’s Taking Liberties exhibition yesterday, and was impressed with what I saw. Its not the most hand on exhibition I have ever been to but it had some fascinating artefacts, ranging from The Magna Carta, via the death warrant of Charles I to more recent documents including some relating to the infamous Oz trial. It has certain links with a previous exhibition I went to at the British Library, The Golden Generation – New Light On British Theatre, 1945-1968, but the focus of this one is far broader in nature and likely to appeal to a wider audience. There is also an interactive debate feature where you are able to gauge your opinions against other users and your results are analysed at the end of the exhibition. The exhibition, which has had great reviews in the Guardian and Time Out amongst other places, runs until 1 March 2009.