Getting to Know Bob Marley

Marley, directed by Kevin Macdonald

In a sense, I grew up listening to Bob Marley’s music. My mother was born and raised in Mandeville, Jamaica, and although I wouldn’t say she was necessarily a big fan — we probably listened to The Very Best of Andrew Lloyd Webber more than Legend — I definitely wore a One Love t-shirt in grade school and could probably sing along to No Woman, No Cry, even if I didn’t understand the lyrics. My grandmother was the main source of exposure, though. She managed a hotel in the Cayman Islands where my brother and I would spend part of every summer. To satisfy rum-drunk Brits and Americans, the hotel played Stir It Up, Is This Love and Jamming on a seemingly endless loop. It’s because of this over-exposure that I developed a cynicism about Bob Marley in my teens. I didn’t really pick up on the poetry of his lyrics — the songs just felt like touristy kitsch to me.

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Titanic Revisited (Or Not)

I just finished reading a review of Titanic by Slate Magazine’s Dana Stevens. The review is premised on the fact that when James Cameron’s epic was first released in 1997, Stevens snubbed it for being “a schlocky, sentimental blockbuster that would force [her] to listen to that Celine Dion song again.” She claims, admittedly snobbishly, to have been too busy with her nose in Walter Benjamin to see the movie in theatres, and, before its current 3D re-release last week, only ever half watched it on TV while distractedly folding laundry. Stevens goes on to admit, however, that after finally seeing it on the big screen, she can understand the mass hysteria that surrounded the film 15 years ago. “Titanic isn’t subtle or tasteful or novel,” she writes “but it’s indisputably big and bold and beautiful.”

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