Death threats for reviewers, sexed-up classics, judging books by their covers and a dead German singer

We’ve all heard about the Stop the Goodreads Bullies uproar by now (I’m not dignifying that site with a link – google it if you must). And now a film critic has received death threats – for daring to give a bad review to The Dark Knight Rises, which ruined that film’s perfect score at Rotten Tomatoes.

Now I hardly ever visit Rotten Tomatoes, since the site only reflects the tastes of the average American movie goer. If you’re not American, the scores are flat-out useless, because – believe it or not – tastes differ between different countries. But even if you put stock in Rotten Tomatoes, it was just a bad review for a movie that would make loads of money even if all reviews were bad. Besides, you have to wonder about people who use Batman quotes – even quotes from the creepy and inhuman Batman of the Christopher Nolan films (not a fan at all) – to threaten an innocent person. Do they really think Batman would approve? Batman of all superheroes?

Say it ain’t so: An enterprising publisher has decided to cash in on the increased visibility of erotica by issuing new editions of various classic novels such as Pride and Prejudice or Jane Eyre with added sex scenes. Really, why can’t whoever wanted to see what Elizabeth and Darcy or Jane and Rochester were up to in bed either use his imagination or read any number of historical romance novels with plenty of sexual content? Why must they deface timeless classics by writers who cannot even defend themselves against this sort of thing? Really, and I thought the zombie mash-ups were bad.

This is why I’m angry about the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey (expect another post on that in the next few days). Not so much because of the books themselves, even though I have massive issues with the gender and relationship dynamics in the series, as explained before, because in the end Fifty Shades of Grey is just a trilogy is books I don’t like. However, since the damned things are so successful, all sorts of people try to cash in on the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey, which leads to travesties like those eroticized classics or a flood of erotic romance novels with stone age gender relationships and heroes who should be in therapy or prison rather than anywhere near any living women. And so far we have only seen the quickie cash-ins. The real flood is yet to come and hell only knows how long it will last. After all, the romance genre took almost fifteen years to recover from the legacy of The Flame and the Flower and Sweet Savage Love.

This is hilarious. A six-year-old girl gives her summaries of various literary classics and not so classics – based on the book covers. In some cases, the little girl’s version sounds more interesting than the actual book. I mean who wouldn’t want to read the version of The Great Gatsby set in a haunted amusement park.

Museumscheck, a summer series at the German-Swiss-Austrian cultural TV channel 3sat, visited the German emigration museum at Bremerhaven yesterday. A very good documentary and virtual tour of the museum. The whole program is online here. The other installments about notable museums in Germany, Austria and Switzerland are well worth watching as well.

German singer Norbert “Bert” Berger died of pneumonia aged only 66. In the 1970s, Norbert Berger and his then wife had a string of hits – mostly typically sappy Schlager fare – as the singing duo Cindy and Bert. They even went up against ABBA at the Eurovision Song Contest – and promptly placed last. Their son Sascha also became a pop singer. And here is, in memory of Bert Berger, the IMO best song by Cindy and Bert (probably because it was originally by Black Sabbath), Der Hund von Baskerville (The hound of Baskerville) in psychedelic groove-o-vision. For something more typical of their output, try Spaniens Gitarren (Spanish guitars) from 1974 or Wenn die Rosen erblühen in Malaga (When roses bloom in Malaga) from 1975. Imagine the sheer horror of growing up in a world where the vast majority of music on TV and on the radio is like that.

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