Wednesday News: Audiobook evolution; the Met Gala and damaging stereotypes; the oldest song in the world
Audiobooks: Where They’ve Been & Where They’re Headed – A pretty interesting interview with Michele Cobb, executive director of the Audio Publishers Association. While some may think of audiobooks as merely a tangent of the print publishing industry, that isn’t the case. In addition to unique and ever-evolving technologies, there are specific production characteristics that render independent performances. And another way the industry is distinguished from traditional publishing is its focus on fostering direct connections to readers, especially in terms of understanding what we want in regard to audiobooks.
What’s Next for Audiobook Publishers
Last fall the Audio Publishers Association hit the streets to talk to potential audiobook listeners, taking the AudiobookMobile — a sort of food truck for audiobooks — on the road to libraries, book festivals, and Baltimore Comic Con. In the blazing heat we gave out popsicles and audiobooks — introducing new people to the joys of reading with their ears. This year the APA will be focusing on research to expand its knowledge of consumer behavior and look for more clues in the race to entice more listeners.
With that focus on finding new potential listeners we are asking ourselves, ‘What else would people like to hear?’ –Book Business
Met Gala 2015: There is no excuse for red carpet racism – I was so glad to see this piece by David Li go up last night, because as soon as I saw the headdress Sarah Jessica Parker was wearing I had to click away from the pictures of the event. Between the baldly stereotypical outfits intended to recognize the event’s “China: Through the Looking Glass” theme and the competition between Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, and Kim Kardashian to see who could wear the least and get the most attention, the whole scene felt more than a little embarrassing. I wasn’t completely sure whether some of the outfits weren’t intended to be costumes, and where is the line between honoring a culture and perpetuating damaging stereotypes? It’s complicated, but as Li notes, the appropriation evident in some of those costumes is problematic on a number of levels, not the least of which is the way in which Asian cultures seem particularly vulnerable to uncritical use of certain stereotypes. I mean, if we want U.S. college fraternities to stop having these types of parties, why is it okay for Hollywood?
While some found Sarah Jessica Parker’s Phillip Treacy headpiece to be the night’s dramatic pièce de résistance, in my eyes, I saw blatant racism: the spot-on Asian Dragon Lady stereotype. Parker probably didn’t realize, then, that she was setting Asian women back 75 years to the 1930s to the first derogatory “dragon lady” portrayal. The original term was used to describe strong Asian women but was a pejorative that made them into villains. –Mashable
Reports from the Field– Speak Test: The Silencing of the Racialized Body – And speaking of problematic stereotypes, this essay by poet Lo Kwa Mei-en is particularly poignant and relevant, as she writes about her experience as a naturalized U.S. citizen who was still being treated like an outsider by her U.S. graduate school program. In addition to the way cultural, national, geographic, linguistic, and ethnic differences between Asian countries are often elided in the U.S., and the tension between the United States as a country, “America” as an exclusionary euphemism for “white” (especially white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant), the myth of the ‘model minority,’ and the exoticization/eroticization of the Asian female body, especially, there is a lot to unpack and think about in these stereotypes, and Mei-en addresses a number of these issues from her personal experience.
I learned how certain powerful, dangerous, vulnerable writers could help me survive a world that would erase me. There is much I am unsure of, but not this: feminist poets, storytellers, and artists have given me the gift of creative survival. Survival, for me, has been defined by shame for many years. But every time I read a powerful poem, story, or book, or attempt to write one, I am gifted the chance for shame to evolve, even if slowly, into a location of purpose and—dare I say it—hope. For me, hope is both joyful and frightening, because it is neither a closed circle/cycle nor a straight line. It by necessity invokes the unknown from out of our collective knowledge of trauma. It is only by the generosity of feminist writers and artists that I may navigate hope at all.–VIDA
Hear the “Seikilos Epitaph,” the Oldest Complete Song in the World: An Inspiring Tune from 100 BC – This is so cool. A complete musical composition from 100 BC. I definitely recommend the first rendition and suggest passing on Hank Green’s disconcerting boy-band adaptation.
Last summer, we featured a Sumerian hymn considered the oldest known song in the world. Given the popularity of that post, it seems we may have long underestimated the number of ancient-musicophiles on the internet. Therefore, we submit today for your approval the Seikilos epitaph, the oldest known complete musical composition — that is to say, a song that our 21st-century selves can still play and hear in its intended entirety, more or less as did the ancient Greeks who lived during the first-century (or thereabouts) era of its composition. –Open Culture