There are many viewers who do not meet the demographic of the regular viewers of "Empire." For example, I am a 66-year-old Caucasian retired woman. Why was I drawn to a series far outside my realm of experience?
First, the Shakespearean connection. I am an avid fan of the Bard, and the articles printed prior to the premiere had me hooked. Next, the cast. One of the few Oscar-nominated movies that vividly lives in my memory is "Hustle & Flow," starring Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson. Their chemistry on screen was electric, and I thought I would find the same in "Empire." I have not been disappointed.
Finally, the talent of the cast in supporting roles, along with their musical talents, has been amazing. In particular, I have become a fan of Jussie Smollet. And the showcasing of other music industry stars, i.e. Jennifer Hudson and Snoop Dogg, exposes me to music I don't usually listen to but will now that I know it.
Fox, a network I seldom watch, has a winner on its hands. I hope they keep up the good work on "Empire."
Bullhead City, Ariz.
Sharp reactions to 'Blurred Lines'
The Times received many letters about its coverage of the "Blurred Lines" verdict this month. Here's a small sample:
As a composer, I have been sued.
It's no joke when the integrity of the songs you're working on is in question due to an alleged music copyright infringement. It doesn't even have to be a legitimate claim to start turning stomachs (and opening wallets). If there is a claim, all fingers will immediately point to the composer, since he is ultimately liable for the originality of the music even though other participants may be contributing to its demise. It is his responsibility to do whatever homework is needed to protect the project from infringement claims. Unfortunately, there can be a lot of land mines in the way.
I think it was unfair for a jury to make the "Blurred Lines" decision and not a qualified music expert. If the verdict is not overturned, they may be setting a new precedent based more on the songwriter's stated intent to be reminiscent of a genre and less on a burden of proof from musical components contained in the song, such as melody and harmony. I think the jury did the right thing based on what they were given and told to consider, but it's a flawed process.
The artists that shine most tend to find clever ways to satisfy us with familiarity while adding refreshing changes of pace to it. That's part of the popular music art form. The right amount of "different" is what makes an artist great and hopefully keep them out of court.
Who really stole what from whom? What did Marvin Gaye's family create? Nothing. They have been living very comfortably off of their father's creative efforts since his tragic 1984 death. Now they feel "vindicated" by a $7.4-million verdict that will further enrich people who did nothing personally to deserve the money. Pharrell, on the other hand, moved the music world forward based upon Marvin Gaye's musical legacy. Suggestion to the Gaye family: Take the $7.4 million and fund a scholarship for young musicians and composers. It seems a more fitting tribute to Marvin Gaye's memory than more money in his children's pockets or more "respect" for his heirs.
I appreciate the professorial perspective shared by Mark Swed concerning this case, however, he fails to recognize the vast differences between creating music today compared with the creative process required two or three centuries ago. The "composer" of today does not necessarilly have to be a musician. Many songs, as "Blurred Lines" has demonstrated, can be sampled, dissected and reassembled along with added vocals and intrumentals and repackaged through digital manipulations. No strumming, blowing or banging is required. Just the tapping of a keyboard.
Gene E. Schwartz