Sunday, August 06, 2006

Fringe Phenomena in the Omniculture

Another hugely successful "fringe" phenomenon (see my Lollapalooza post immediately below) is the Edinburgh Fringe, which Reuters characterizes as "the world's largest and most irreverent arts festival." According to the Reuters story, this "fringe" phenomenon is a big business and highly influential on the culture. The festival's director "said the Fringe has sold about 20 million tickets over the past six decades 'and we hope this year to top the million mark again which we have done for the last three years.' "

Edinburgh Fringe performer

A common theme in this year's program reflects some current concerns, but with a typically quirky approach. As the Reuters story reports, the Edinburgh Fringe

. . . celebrated its 60th birthday on Sunday with religion the big theme being tackled this year by playwrights and comedians.

Fringe performers revel in controversy and 2006 should be no exception with "We Don't Know Shi'ite" about British ignorance of Islam and "Jesus: The Guantanamo Years."

"It is the most amazing barometer of world politics," said The Scotsman newspaper's theater critic Joyce McMillan, reflecting on the Fringe which last year tackled the subject of terrorism head on after the London suicide bombings.

Fringe director Paul Gudgin, overseeing 17,000 performers at the three-week festival of anarchy, said "I find it endlessly fascinating how a thread like this emerges.

"It's either about what is happening with radical Islam or reflects interest and concern over the influence Evangelical Christians seem to be having in the United States," he told Reuters.

The Edinburgh Fringe festival is another of those "fringe" phenomena, like the Lollapalooza Festival, that become part of the mainstream culture and redifine it, as is the way of things in the Omniculture. Another truth about the Omniculture is this:

In the Omniculture, everything happens.

The Edinburgh Festival is a fine example of this principle. As Reuters notes:

Wading through the Fringe program is a stamina test in itself, but picking the quirkiest title of the year can be fun.

Leading contenders are "Afternoon Tea with a Transvestite" and "Sit: The History of the Chair" but it is difficult to top "How To Explain The History of Communism To Mental Patients."

The reality of the Omniculture is this: If something hasn't happened yet, it will.

For a summary of what the Omniculture is all about, click here.

From Karnick on Culture.

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