June 23, 2013 in Nation/World

Dissident artist mocks government in music

From Wire Reports
 
Associated Press photo

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei speaks to journalists at his studio in Beijing on May 22.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

He is no musician, but the Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei is resorting to music to convey his criticism and mockery of China’s authoritarian state.

On the second anniversary of his 81-day secret detention, Ai is releasing his first music album “The Divine Comedy,” which includes the single “Dumbass.” The song is meant to reconstruct his detention, which was part of an overall crackdown on dissent in 2011. Ai’s subsequent conviction for tax evasion has been seen by his supporters as punishment for his activism.

The full album – released Saturday – has five other songs, in which Ai documents his experiences with police and shares his reflection on China’s current conditions.

Musician Zuoxiao Zuzhou, a friend of Ai, wrote the music for the album, with influences from pop, rock, punk and heavy metal. Ai’s vocals appear to be more speech-making than singing, and the lyrics include obscenities to express his anger at what he sees as a repressive police state.

Downey not done with Tony Stark

Robert Downey Jr. has signed up for two more “Avengers” films.

Marvel announced that the actor will reprise his role as Iron Man/Tony Stark for “The Avengers 2” and “The Avengers 3.” Downey has played the character in a trilogy of “Iron Man” movies, as well as the first superhero ensemble “Avengers” film, which made $2.7 billion worldwide.

The 48-year-old actor had previously suggested “Iron Man 3” might be his last spin in a stand-alone “Iron Man” film. Marvel’s announcement made no mention of an “Iron Man 4” release.

The birthday bunch

Musical conductor James Levine is 70. Actor Bryan Brown is 66. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is 65. “American Idol” ex-judge Randy Jackson is 57. Actress Frances McDormand is 56. Rock musician Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth) is 51. Actress Selma Blair is 41. Rock singer KT Tunstall is 38. Singer-songwriter Jason Mraz is 36. Rock singer Duffy is 29.

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