Popular Culture

Film scholars question whether BGSU will act against other ‘Birth of a Nation’ cast members

“An Immodest Proposal” Now that Bowling Green State University’s Board of Trustees are of one mind about the importance of presentism in viewing the past, we would suggest that they pursue the path towards a more complete obliteration of troublesome matters from our cinemetic past.  In their collective wisdom, though, the Board of Trustees in removing the names of Dorthy and Lillian Gish from the movie theatre in the BGSU student union, refrained from eliminating the Lillian Gish scholarship, revoking her honorary doctorate, or dispersing the Gish archives.  Quite Solomon like, indeed. (But was an educational opportunity lost?) However, they have more work to do.  Surely their research before their unanimous vote revealed, as did ours, that the following actors also had roles in Birth of a Nation: Mae Marsh Henry B. Walthal Miriam Cooper George Siegmann Walter Long Wallace Reid Donald Crisp Spottiswoode Aitkin Elmo Lincoln Eugene Pallette Raoul Walsh Jules White Monte Blue John Ford Gibson Gowland Charles King (A conservative tally of the movies these actors appeared in, outside of Birth of a Nation, is 2,565 films.) John Ford (KKK Rider) and Raoul Walsh (John Wilkes Booth) are especially notable in they they are considered two of the greatest directors of Hollywood’s Golden Age.  Ford is often described as America’s greatest director. To be consistent, therefore, others who have appeared in Birth of a Nation should have their films stricken from any list of films to be screened in the now unnamed theatre in the BGSU student union.  That their 2,500 plus films represent a significant proportion of films in the history of American movies should not keep the Board of Trustees from establishing this list of forbidden films so that those who say history is not important will be able to fully wrap themselves in presentism. John G. Nachbar Co-founder of the Journal of Popular Film and Television Former Director of the Film Studies Program at BGSU Michael T. Marsden Co-editor of the Journal of Popular Film and Television Professors Emeritus of Popular Culture at BGSU (The opinions stated here are, of course, those of individuals who should not be construed to be spokespersons in any way for BGSU or any other organization or institution.)

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Hundreds gather to celebrate Japanese Culture at BGSU Cherry Blossom Festival

By DAVID DUPONT  BG Independent News Eri Maeda feels right at home in Bowling Green. The exchange student from Japan was helping visitors try on kimonos Sunday at the annual Ohanami Cherry Blossom Festival at Bowling Green State University. She said she feels so much at home in Bowling Green, she’s not looking forward to leaving in May. Eri Maeda (right) adjusts a kimono on Summer Pollick (left) as fellow Japanese Club member Shelby Bray looks on. “I’m so happy that so many people enjoy Japanese culture,” Maeda said. Back home she doesn’t encounter many foreigners, so she was pleasantly surprised that several hundred of people gathered in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union to celebrate the culture of her native land. This is BGSU’s 18th annual Ohnami. The first was held in 2001 to celebrate the planting of 50 cherry trees that were donated by BGSU alumni living in Japan. The grove also includes three sakura grown from cuttings of the original trees that were presented to Washington D.C. by the City of Tokyo during the presidency of William Howard Taft. Since 2001 Japanese firms have donated a few dozen more trees. From left, Sedona Spellen, Ayslee Grant, Jaryn Shumaker,and Nhu Nguyen chat after a light lunch of sushi and other Japanese treats, That first festival was held on a windy day under cloudy skies, so it was decided to move it indoors. Akiko Kawano Jones, who teaches Japanese and advises the Japanese Club, said when the club and the Asian Studies Program launched the festival it was the only one in the region. Now several others have blossomed. Nagisa Watanabe helps her son Yoshihito make an origami figure What sets the BGSU event apart, she noted, was BGSU’s Ohanami is free. Entry even included a snack plate of sushi and a sweet rice roll as well as rice crackers. This is made possible by funding from university as well as Japanese firms with local operations. Jones said she wants to keep it free to encourage students to attend. What they find was an array of hands-on activities, including origami, traditional games, calligraphy, and flower arranging as well as performances by the university’s Kaze No Daichi Taiko. A performance on the traditional string instrument koto by…


Gish Theater task force continues work

The task force charged with looking into whether the name of the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Theater  at Bowling Green State University should be changed is on track to present its report to university trustees when they convene in early May. At Tuesday’s Faculty Senate meeting, Provost Joe Whitehead said that the task force is made up of six students and six faculty and staff.  The task force was assembled by Arts and Sciences Dean Raymond Craig after members of the Black Student Union brought the appropriateness of the name to the fore because of Lillian Gish’s role in “The Birth of a Nation” in 1915. The film, a blockbuster at its time, includes dehumanizing depictions of African-Americans and celebrates the Ku Klux Klan. “The Birth of a Nation” has been lauded as a technical achievement and continues to studied in film classes. The Klan used the movie for recruiting, and it has been cited as an element in the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan in the South and its spread to the North, including Wood County. Whitehead said the task force will “assess the impact of the naming on the campus and the community.” One key concern, he said, is to study the historical context of Gish’s career and her time as well as the context “of the time we live in.” Gish was a star in the silent film era, whose career continued on the stage, screen, and television. Throughout her life she advocated for an appreciation of silent movies and for film preservation. The Gish Theater was opened and dedicated to the Gish sisters in 1976. At that time it was located n Hanna Hall. It was moved to the Bowen-Thompson Student Union this fall because of the renovation of Hanna as art of the construction of a new home for the College of Business.


Terra to host Midwest Rhythm Summit

From Elizabeth Lang, Muso Entertainment The Midwest Rhythm Summit returns to Terra State Community College on Friday, April 5-7. Now in its second year, this exciting, three-day music education and entertainment event features some of the world’s top performers including guitarist Dave Ellefson (Anthrax/Megadeth); bassist Frank Bello (Anthrax/Megadeth); legendary drummer Liberty DeVitto (Billy Joel); award-winning drummer/producer Thomas Lang (Paul Gilbert); drummer/educator Dom Famularo, bassist Oskar Cartaya (Celia Cruz/Ruben Blades/Jennifer Lopez) and much more. Co-sponsored by Terra State Community College and Bass Gear Magazine, The Midwest Rhythm Summit is a unique, inspiring music event for fans and players alike. Sponsored by Terra State Community College and Bass Gear Magazine, The Midwest Rhythm Summit features: Q&A sessions, Artist Meet & Greets, Clinics, Masterclasses, Product Demos, Concerts and much more. Attendees will enjoy multiple exciting and informative sessions and presentations including “Audio for Gaming” with world-renowned video game composer Kazuma Jinnouchi (Halo 4&5/Guardians); mock studio sessions, live improv sessions, campus tours and more. Open to the public, the event also offers 12 musical instrument clinics including a masterclass with award-winning drummer Thomas Lang. The Midwest Rhythm Summit offers multiple concerts including a Saturday, April 6h evening performance from virtuoso rock supergroup Attitudes and Altitudes featuring Dave Ellefson and Frank Bello (Anthrax/Megadeth) as well as a Latin jazz concert from The Oskar Cartaya Band and a special performance from Little Kids Rock. “We’re incredibly proud to bring artists of this level to Terra State Community College,” said Midwest Rhythm Summit organizer and Terra State Community College Director of Musical Arts and Technology, Michael Czeczele. “We’re building what we hope is a unique, destination music event that has both a rewarding educational aspect as well as an appeal for music fans who just want to get up close to some of the music industry’s most celebrated players.” Three-day, Single Day and Evening Concert tickets available. Free student admission to clinics and masterclasses with valid student ID. Terra State Community College is located at 2830 Napoleon Road, Fremont, Ohio 43420. For a full schedule of activities and to purchase tickets, visit https://midwestrhythmsummit.org/


BGSU’s Browne Popular Culture Library celebrates 50 years of living in the past

By DAVID DUPONT  BG Independent News Behind the closed doors on the fourth floor of Jerome Library, the treasures are stored. Treasures that most people, aside from the hoarders and most obsessive of collectors, would throw out. For archivist Stephen Ammidown, that’s the beauty of the Browne Popular Culture Library. Most of what it collects would be destined for the landfill, except someone saved it, and then they, or their survivors, donated it to Bowling Green State University. Archivist Stephen Ammidown discusses a recent acquisition of gossip and movie magazines. Those folks include a family who recently traveled all the way from Saskatchewan with a van full of movie and gossip magazines. Those now sit on a table in the library in the process of being sorted. Some donations are small — an MTV Remote Control game. “I want you to have this,” the donor said.  One Star Trek fan delivered dozens of boxes filled with all things Star Trek, including a Vulcan harp, that was made by a fan of the show. Ammidown said Star Trek is an interesting case  because the studio lost interest in it in the period between the original TV series and the movies, and didn’t license official products. So Star Trek lovers ran amok creating memorabilia on their own, including that harp. The instrument is not only unplayable but unrepairable, yet valuable nonetheless as a relic of the show and its devotees. The Browne Popular Culture Library celebrated its 50th birthday with a  cake decorated with Batman , Tuesday afternoon (March 12). (Batman’s 80th birthday will be celebrated at the Batman in Popular Culture conference on campus, April 12 and 13.) “Seems like a 100 years,” quipped Bill Schurk, who was the first head  librarian of the Popular Culture Library. He remembered as an undergraduate in the 1960s being allowed to display some of his collections of “cool stuff” at McFall, where the university library was then located. That was a privilege reserved for faculty and library staff. “I was this library when I was 5 years old,” Schurk said Tuesday.  “I collected all of this then.” After earning his masters in library science he returned to BGSU to head a new audio center. University Library Director A. Robert…


Eva Marie Saint to get in the act with students during March 29 visit

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Bowling Green State University will welcome alumna and Academy Award-winning actress Eva Marie Saint for a special event on March 29.  During “An Evening with Eva Marie Saint,” Saint will talk about her career and present a staged reading with several BGSU theatre and film students. The program will begin at 7 p.m. in the Thomas B. and Kathleen M. Donnell Theatre at the Wolfe Center for the Arts. The event is free; however, limited seating is available and tickets are required in advance. Tickets are available through the Wolfe Center Box Office Monday through Friday noon to 5 p.m., online at bgsu.edu/arts or by calling 419-372-8171. Guests with disabilities are requested to indicate if they need special services, assistance or appropriate modifications to fully participate in this event by contacting Accessibility Services at access@bgsu.edu or Theatre and Film at 419-372-8495 prior to the event.  


Controversy swirls around Gish Film Theater over ties to ‘Birth of a Nation’

By DAVID DUPONT  BG Independent News When “The Birth of the Nation,” originally called “The Clansman,” was released in 1915 it was a blockbuster, the first blockbuster movie. President Woodrow Wilson screened it at the White House, the first film shown in the White House, and then gave it a rave review. The film’s vicious depiction of African-Americans sparked civil unrest, including anti-black violence. Still from the silent film “The Birth of the Nation” is projected during town hall meeting hosted by the Black Student Union. The nascent NAACP  protested and campaigned to have it banned, and it was in two states, Ohio and Kansas. The Ku Klux Klan liked Griffith’s film so much it used the movie as a recruiting tool. That helped the Klan, once dormant, become more powerful and widespread, extending into the North including Wood County. More than 100 years later, the film is still stirring controversy. The Black Student Union at Bowling Green State University has questioned the name of the venerable Gish Film Theater.  The theater, then in Hanna Hall, was named for Lillian and Dorothy Gish in 1976, after Lillian  Gish received an honorary doctorate and visited campus. Lillian Gish, an Ohio native who made her stage debut in Risingsun, was a star of “Birth of Nation,” and a close associate of D.W. Griffith, the director and producer of the film. The move of the theater from Hanna Hall, itself controversial, to the Bowen Thompson Student Union gave the name more prominence. Kyle Thompson, political action director for the Black Student Union, said that visibility sparked the call for considering changing the name. The scheduled March 29 rededication of the theater, featuring Oscar-winning actress and BGSU graduate Eva Marie Saint, who worked with Lillian Gish in 1953, has been canceled. Saint is still scheduled to appear on campus at that time. President Rodney Rogers has asked Dean Raymond Craig, of the College of Arts and Sciences, to form a task force to study what if any action the university should take and report to the board of trustees in May. Last week, the Black Student Union organized a town hall meeting to elicit comment from all sides in the controversy. Thompson set the tone. “Keep in mind there…