2008 "American Dream" theme

How much do you like the 2008 "American Dream" theme?

Lame. Lame. Lame.
215
30%
Lame. Lame. Lame.
215
30%
Sort of lame.
60
8%
Sort of lame.
60
8%
Good enough.
32
5%
Good enough.
32
5%
Brilliant. Inspiring.
47
7%
Brilliant. Inspiring.
47
7%
 
Total votes: 708

francesco
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Post by francesco » Tue Sep 04, 2007 2:18 pm

when i think of american dream, i think of being materialistically successful (usually at the expense of a bunch of other people). i find that concept to be diametrically opposed to the concept of a gift economy and the more holistic stance burners take towards life. i've really loved all the past themes, some were even brilliant, but this one has just got to go. it really sucks, big time. the american dream is to be on top, with everyone else down below. even the symbolism of the man standing on top of all the other countries of the world is pretty disgusting. what was larry thinking? is dementia setting in? i defintely will not go next year if this is the theme. but maybe, with this theme only about 10,000 will show up; then it might might be a great burn... or worse yet, all 10,000 of them will be republicans. we can have a karl rove camp? what's larry been smoking these days?

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Xhile
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Post by Xhile » Tue Sep 04, 2007 3:44 pm

As a burner from another country, my initial response to "the American Dream" was a real sense of alienation. Like this burn isn't for us, in spite of the token (and ugly) flags on a high rise building idea.

90% of my friends who've been discussing it also felt a sense of revulsion.

Yes, there will be opportunity for great art.

I just hope we don't get big punch ups between "hippie airheads" and "ignorant rednecks"

I wonder how many US-based people realise just how revolted much of the world feels when they hear the word "patriotism".

"America" is such a vast concept, but I wonder how much of the art will be negative?

Sorry, but I guess the only way to make any progress is to be honest, and that's how I feel.

Very disappointed.
meh.

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theCryptofishist
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Post by theCryptofishist » Tue Sep 04, 2007 4:44 pm

I'm hoping that the streets will be named for famous suburbs. C can be Celebration. Or maybe A will be Aneheim and C will be Centerville.
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Post by greyscale » Tue Sep 04, 2007 4:49 pm

"ultimately, does your two cents on here really count?," is what you should be asking yourself.

i've got a bad feeling about this theme. I understand what the planners were going for, but in our current times, "patriotic" is becoming synonymous with "self-righteous."

It's obviously not inclusive, and maybe the planners are trying to turn this event down a dark corner. Whatever the case may be, the topic has created quite the segregation, and not just on this particular message board.

What is the American Dream these days, aside from capitalism, horde-culture and "irony" as a lifestyle? Sure, the topic has been taboo depending on where you live, but from what I'm gathering, it looks like the theme is pushing more people away rather actually inspiring them.

if i end up going, i'll have to pack a white picket fence, some astroturf, and 2.5 children.

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ZaphodBurner
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Post by ZaphodBurner » Tue Sep 04, 2007 5:07 pm

Xhile wrote: Sorry, but I guess the only way to make any progress is to be honest, and that's how I feel. Very disappointed.
That's cool, and I appreciate the constructive tone with which you offered your opinion, but I wonder if you've read the actual statement yet:

"Ranging from Canada to Chad, from Brazil to Burundi, from Vatican City to the Republic of China, these 244 symbols will shine in the night, gleaming like cut gems upon the surface of a jewel box. The United States of America will be among them. Each country can be said to represent a dream no less radiant or precious than the rest. Each nation may be viewed as a container of identity; yet each one can be said to be a glimmering illusion, an arbitrary entity defined by boundaries on a map."

Does that modify or reenforce your opinion?

Personally, I don't think it's great but it's not something to get wound up about like some seem to be. Psyche didn't inspire me much and I heard people bitch about Vault of Heaven, too.
"The Red Baron is smart.. He never spends the whole night dancing and drinking root beer.. "-The WWI Flying Ace

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Rich
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Best theme ever!

Post by Rich » Tue Sep 04, 2007 5:18 pm

This is an awesome theme!

The first measure of the quality of a theme, at least to me, is in the opposition to that theme. Most of the responses I've seen have been 'agin it.' And the arguments have been singularly, well, they don't seem that strong to me.

I mean, "The American Dream is a baggaged cultural concept." Huh? What cultural concept doesn't carry baggage?

'The American Dream' means so so so so much to so many people. And what it means is radically different from person to person.

Pryamis wrote "American Dream" will only bring out the worst in pro- and anti- ideology games."

But I don't agree with Pryamis. We have defined America by our dreams and our myths. That goes for the jingoistic John Wayne _Fort Apache_ dreams and myths as well as the equally whacked left wing 'America is bad because Bush is bad' dreams and myths.

I'm going for a subtle argument here, but for many of the opponents 'America' and the American Dream mean Bush and Iraq and Walmart, but without denying the bad, _my_ America, and my American Dream, created Burning Man, and Martin Luther King...and a bunch of other stuff I'm proud of :-)

There is not _one_ American dream. Just about every person who I physically talked with about the theme had the response that 'The American Dream is making money.' And that is just _fucked up_. That reflects an incredible act of judgmentalism-"I know what you mean when you say 'American Dream' and I don't like what you like."

"I have a dream" says Larry, and the burners say "I'm against dreams?"

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diane o'thirst
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Post by diane o'thirst » Tue Sep 04, 2007 6:26 pm

Neutral/interested observation point that may border on "glass half-full"ness...

Another way to look at the theme, is not "flag-waving, fat, ignorant, consumerist Murikunns" but the America as seen from, say, Ellis Island. Vis-a-vis, from the eyes of the people coming here.

Points to think about:

Cultural Melting-Pot, everyone has something to contribute.

Strength in diversity.

Here be dragons.

"It's not just a car, it's your freedom."

Route 66, America's Main Street (the seed-theme for my "Roadtrip Camp" idea).

"You can drive from state to state. All across the country." "No papers?" "No papers."

Lost Roanoake Colony. "Gone Native," Croatan.

A tipi village? Is anyone going to do a totem pole?

Potlatch ceremony. Look it up, research it, and REALLY do it. Give away most of or everything you have — and valuable stuff, not just junk from your last spring cleaning — to everyone who comes and they all bring something to give back to you. Kind of a reverse "Nothing Without You." The ultimate extrapolation of "Gift Economy" and a real fly-in-the-face of consumerism.
[url=http://tinyurl.com/245sagf][img]http://tinyurl.com/2bbr28j/.gif[/img][/url][url=http://tinyurl.com/23753ws][img]http://tinyurl.com/2auqebj/.gif[/img][/url][url=http://tinyurl.com/m4y82q][img]http://tinyurl.com/l56rdn/.gif[/img][/url]

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Bob
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Post by Bob » Tue Sep 04, 2007 6:31 pm

I don't vote in online polls, I vote with my hands & feet.

If you can't think of an American Dream, you're a pretty sad dreamer.

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Bob
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Post by Bob » Tue Sep 04, 2007 6:34 pm

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The Beach, San Francisco
Imogen Cunningham, 1955
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Post by hsdavis » Tue Sep 04, 2007 6:40 pm

The BMorg is not stupid. There were far too many people attending Burning Man this year and this theme gives the uncomfortable appearance of trying to keep many attendees away. For the last several years, I have been embarressed to be an American in foreign countries. Now we are flawnting our decatance and arrogance in the face of our non-American attendees.
I see no other logical reason for this foolish theme, but if it keeps the numbers to a managable level, why not keep insulting the rest of the world?
Let's not forget Animal Farm---"We are all equal, but some of us are more equal than others"

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Post by skygod » Tue Sep 04, 2007 6:46 pm

"If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem"
Eldridge Cleaver
"It will seem difficult in the beginning. But everything seems difficult in the beginning."- Musashi

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unjonharley
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Post by unjonharley » Tue Sep 04, 2007 6:46 pm

what a sad bunch of boobs..

77% have no concept of the future of this great country..

like lemming to the sea

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waywardvirtuoso
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Post by waywardvirtuoso » Tue Sep 04, 2007 7:01 pm

rich wrote "and my American Dream, created Burning Man, and Martin Luther King...and a bunch of other stuff I'm proud of". but what was the state of the nation and the culture that created men like Martin Luther King? It's kinda like the argument that without war there would be no progress (not an argument i fully agree with, but an interesting debate). for example, without war, we might not have penicillin. our space program might be nothing. we wouldn't have our great "war heros". but does that make war something to be proud of?

i'm not trying to trash america or the american dream. i have dreams. i know that many of those dreams are even an option for my mind to visit because of the good things about america. i realize there's a TON of good ways to take this theme. but i still think that it's completely inappropriate for a theme for burning man. And Xhile's reaction is exactly why.

the first of the 10 principals of burning man copied from the site:
Radical Inclusion
Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.

how does this theme tell someone from London, or Sydney or anywhere other than the US that we're wanting to welcome and embrace them?

"We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation." somehow this no longer seems sincere.

and before anyone ^coughbob^ starts insulting people or insisnuating that they haven't read the description of the theme, i'd like to state that i DID read the theme before posting a comment on the subject. i read it and reread it and reread it and tried to completely take in all of my reactions, all of my thoughts and feelings. i also thought of what other people's thoughts might be (again, perhaps those that attend that are not from america) and THAT is what i have a problem with. I understand they are trying to include all countries "from canada to chad..." but if "Each country can be said to represent a dream no less radiant or precious than the rest." why is the theme singling out the american dream? is there seriously NO other way the theme could have been worded or expressed to include all countries?

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Post by Toolmaker » Tue Sep 04, 2007 7:04 pm

fuck themes

who wants to gift a hummer to gigsville? we need a new car-b-que.
This account has been closed as demanded by Wedeliver.

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Bob
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Post by Bob » Tue Sep 04, 2007 7:05 pm

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Two dolls
Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, 1926
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K-mom
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Post by K-mom » Tue Sep 04, 2007 7:06 pm

It is a smart move. This will be August 2008, a little more than two months before your elections. I can guarantee the world will be watching the American Mindset at the time, which makes it great timing to show your true colours, true patriotism.

The reaction that the American Dream is nothing but take, take, take is a form of prejudice, an assumption that the current politics speak for the entire national identity. Why can't the dream be of change?

For the record, this was written by a foreigner. (me)
You call it malt liquor, I call it breakfast.

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Bob
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Post by Bob » Tue Sep 04, 2007 7:08 pm

Aren't you American?
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Bob
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Post by Bob » Tue Sep 04, 2007 7:12 pm

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Fishermen Mending Nets
Tina Modotti, 1925
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diane o'thirst
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Post by diane o'thirst » Tue Sep 04, 2007 7:15 pm

Another interpretation:

You're an American? What's your dream?
[url=http://tinyurl.com/245sagf][img]http://tinyurl.com/2bbr28j/.gif[/img][/url][url=http://tinyurl.com/23753ws][img]http://tinyurl.com/2auqebj/.gif[/img][/url][url=http://tinyurl.com/m4y82q][img]http://tinyurl.com/l56rdn/.gif[/img][/url]

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Post by skygod » Tue Sep 04, 2007 7:41 pm

Is not landing on the moon part of that dream? Does anyone else remember watching that and feeling proud?
"It will seem difficult in the beginning. But everything seems difficult in the beginning."- Musashi

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Xhile
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Post by Xhile » Tue Sep 04, 2007 8:26 pm

ZaphodBurner wrote:
Xhile wrote: Sorry, but I guess the only way to make any progress is to be honest, and that's how I feel. Very disappointed.
That's cool, and I appreciate the constructive tone with which you offered your opinion, but I wonder if you've read the actual statement yet:

"Ranging from Canada to Chad, from Brazil to Burundi, from Vatican City to the Republic of China, these 244 symbols will shine in the night, gleaming like cut gems upon the surface of a jewel box. The United States of America will be among them. Each country can be said to represent a dream no less radiant or precious than the rest. Each nation may be viewed as a container of identity; yet each one can be said to be a glimmering illusion, an arbitrary entity defined by boundaries on a map."

Does that modify or reenforce your opinion?
Thanks. :)

I printed and read the whole statement carefully several times.

Personally, I think the idea of a high rise building with flags is rather crass and ugly. But that's an aesthetic opinion, so I can let that slide.

(A cynical comment from one 50+ year-old friend said "

Well, if they're going to use a "high rise tower" perhaps it should be set alight by crashing a small plane into it?

That way it can offend everybody! " )


There is confusion inherent in the whole statement, I think. The first sentence is "This year's art theme is about patriotism", but the theme is called "The American Dream". Whose patriotism? I think the statement is too unfocused, trying to achieve too many things.

I don't like how it says "flag burning or flag worship play no part in this year's theme". It sounds like he is trying to head off controversy, but then he says "what has America achieved that you admire or feel proud of? What has it done or failed to do that makes you feel dismayed?"

So which is it?

Are we allowed to criticise or not? Allowed to worship or not?

Yes, there is mention of other countries, but this is also confusing. Is the theme about patriotism? Or is it about the USA? Or is it about all countries?

And, sad to say, the initial reaction of many from non-US countries - rightly or wrongly - will be that this is "token". For that, we have to look at the large and complicated issue of how the US is perceived in the larger world, and why. Which leads to good opportunities for art. But that also makes for a very "political" festival.

Maybe I'll go hide in a sex camp and simply try to "share the love" and ignore the theme. ;-)

Putting the best face on it, the theme offers opportunity to create art that hopes for and inspires a better future USA (because "America" is bigger than just the USA).

The statement is confusing, and if the initial reaction of people has been so overwhelmingly negative - rightly or wrongly - maybe Larry needs to re-word it.
meh.

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Bob
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Post by Bob » Tue Sep 04, 2007 8:37 pm

Larry always does a rewrite based on artist feedback.

Please take an American-made pill, everybody.
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Absintine
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About that theme....

Post by Absintine » Tue Sep 04, 2007 9:54 pm

I too felt a bit bewildered by this years theme, after much thought I have come to this conclusion...BRC received *so* much media coverage this year, Frightening amounts, That....
The end result is either going to be 3000+ new spectators :( or 3,000+ new people who [u]maybe able to contribute[/u] since the theme is very open to individual experience and not to intimidating.
This is something you don't have to feel "informed" about to participate in. It's just something entirely personal to each citizen in Black Rock, made only more interesting by how globally diverse all our points of origin are.
Just trying to rationalize the lameness....

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waywardvirtuoso
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Post by waywardvirtuoso » Tue Sep 04, 2007 10:09 pm

oh yea... the american dream DOES translate around the world. how silly of me to forget.

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theCryptofishist
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Post by theCryptofishist » Tue Sep 04, 2007 10:19 pm

Wasn't Maholy-Nagy a Hungarian associated with the Bauhaus, a german movement?
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Post by francesco » Tue Sep 04, 2007 10:46 pm

how about we just tweek it a bit, and call it HUMANITY'S DREAMS? GRINGO'S DREAM just doesn't work. what would be the most prefect theme, in this line of thought, would be to just call it DREAMS or dreams of humanity, but i like dreams the best.

there are just too many connotations and explanations of what the American Dream is. just read death of a salesman by arthur miller (1949) to understand what the classic American Dream really means. (Larry read this play, please.) and on a larger geo-politcal level, of course, all this means a lot more. read confessions of a economic hit man by john perkins. this book gives point blank explanation of what the american dream has been in the last part of the 20th century.

and waywardvirtuoso i know there is no McDonald's on the dome of the rock. i've been there just too many times.

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domitron
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Post by domitron » Tue Sep 04, 2007 11:03 pm

What a lame fucking theme. Man, I guess all those drugs have finally caught up to the BM staff who picked this lame idea. FUCK THE AMERICAN DREAM! I would rather celebrate Richard Simon's back hair.

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Post by philosopher » Tue Sep 04, 2007 11:31 pm

theCryptofishist wrote:I'm hoping that the streets will be named for famous suburbs. C can be Celebration. Or maybe A will be Aneheim and C will be Centerville.
"B" can be Branson and "I" can be Internment Camp. Are we grasping America yet?

I think this is a brilliant theme choice. When the Europeans of the 16th-18th centuries dreamed America, they often dreamed of innocent utopias not afflicted with European degeneracy. Now we will be dreaming of an America not afflicted with American degeneracy.

I'm betting money that someone is already thinking of going for the world record flag burn. Now that the concept has been revealed, we don't have to go through that exercise in predictability. I hope.


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Post by Xavier » Wed Sep 05, 2007 12:22 am

Having just gone through a site launch that also (quite unintentionally) alienated non-American participants, I imagine a similar scenario; defensiveness on the part of the US participants and indigination on the part of the rest. It doesn't matter if the Man is inclusive or not, it says "AMERICAN" dream not "WORLD" dream.

The basic argument boils down to the ignorance/arrogance of placing American issues in the position of priority.

Anyways, I smell White Trash Camp.

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Post by diane o'thirst » Wed Sep 05, 2007 1:15 am

I'll bet we get a two-camp feud, United States of Canada Camp vs. Redneckistan Camp.
[url=http://tinyurl.com/245sagf][img]http://tinyurl.com/2bbr28j/.gif[/img][/url][url=http://tinyurl.com/23753ws][img]http://tinyurl.com/2auqebj/.gif[/img][/url][url=http://tinyurl.com/m4y82q][img]http://tinyurl.com/l56rdn/.gif[/img][/url]

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