Howard Hampton

  • PUBLIC ENEMIES: RONALD REAGAN CONQUERS THE MARTIANS

    Not long ago, America’s most influential and beloved popular artist celebrated his 80th birthday. It was, as the rituals of the rich and famous go, a modest affair: the Manchurian Candidate takes a well-deserved curtain call among old friends. But the interminable movie the star produced continues to unspool, even though he has left the screen. The real celebration is much more lively, taking the form of a belief system and its symbols, the giddy unease of wartime made into the crowd-pleasing hit of the year/decade/millennium. It’s an epic of violence and forgetting designed, as critics

  • PRINCE AFTER THE REVOLUTION

    AS ROCK GROWS more rationalized and compartmentalized, artists who confound pop norms and reinterpret them along personal, even clandestine lines are likely to appear as mere exotica—endangered species. A performer such as Madonna makes art (and when she wants to, trouble) out of the conditions of her celebrity: her work finds its subject in the mechanisms of public perception and mass fantasy of which it, and she, are a product. On the other hand, one like Prince, whose position as an erotic provocateur and soothsayer Madonna has herself eclipsed, is harder to locate by the reference points of