Picks and Pans Review: Culture Shock
PBS (Wed., Jan. 26 and Feb. 2, 9 p.m. ET)
This 4½-hour documentary miniseries has four topics and one unifying theme: Great art disturbs the peace.
Though it runs long at 90 minutes, the first segment is the strongest. It analyzes Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and explains the 115-year-old novel's enduring power to provoke outrage. You'll meet single mother Kathy Monteiro of Tempe, Ariz., who sees the book as racist and crusades to get it dropped from the high school curriculum. She seems personally hurt by Twain's writing, but one of the novel's defenders argues, "Learning has never been painless." The other three parts, each an hour long, deal with Manet's 1865 painting Olympia, with its controversial use of female nudity; Hollywood censorship in the 1930s; and the outcry against early jazz as an alleged instrument of moral corruption. All seek to draw modern-day parallels, but they lack a Monteiro to make the issues truly immediate.
Bottom Line: Just a mild shock
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