Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant

Happy Nuclear Disaster Day!

Yay!

Wait, that’s not right.

The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant blew up 25 years ago. It was a horrific incident that forever altered countless lives and the surrounding environment. And here we are watching Japan struggle with a partial meltdown (at least) at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant following the incomprehensible destruction and loss of life from an unprecedented earthquake and tsunami. Different and yet there are some frightening similarities.

Today and tomorrow in the Atwater Village community of Los Angeles, as well as Pasadena, there are several events paying tribute to the original Chernobyl disaster, courtesy of Voices From Chornobyl, a theatrical production adapting a book of interviews with survivors of Chernobyl. I have worked with Cindy Marie Jenkins on this in the past and her handling of this topic is pitch perfect. Never preachy or dogmatic, but sympathetic and humble to this massive event’s effects on real people. The performances of her actors aren’t manipulative, they are heart breaking on their own terms, filled with revelations about how the human condition responds to the unthinkable.

Tuesday, April 26th – 25th Anniversary of Chernobyl

3:30 PM: A special preview of the Hollywood Fringe Festival production of Voices From Chornobyl Jr., a workshop focusing on the disaster’s effects on children’s lives. The free event is for children ages 8+, at the Atwater Village Branch of LA Public Library.

Katya was 9 when the accident at the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant changed her life. After recent events in Japan, a journalist asks Katya and her family about the accident 25 years ago. An interactive and educational story of a young girl struggling with her world, brought to you by the Awareness Team of Voices From Chornobyl. Profits go to Chernobyl Children International.

6-8 PM: Gallery reception for Art From Chernobyl at Kaldi Coffee & Tea, 3147 Glendale Blvd., 90039.

9 PM: Staged Reading of Voices From Chornobyl followed by a talk back session discussing radiation, at Brazilian Yoga & Pilates, 3191 Casitas Ave. #112, 90039.

Wednesday, April 27th

8 PM: Staged Reading of Voices From Chornobyl at CalTech‘s Baxter Hall in Pasadena, sponsored by CalTech’s Engineering & Applied Science and Theater Arts at California Institute of Technology. Snacks & beverages following reading.

Comics can still be controversial – hot button issues rile up readers

This week, two comics are making national news due to some readers being offended by the comics’ content.

The Washington Post blog Comic Riffs by Michael Cavna takes a look at reactions from an op-ed article in the Press & Sun-Bulletin to a week’s worth of the comic strip Mother Goose & Grimm by Mike Peters. The comic satirized the hypothetical Chernobyl Amusement Park with a series of radiation jokes. The historic meltdown of the Ukraine’s Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in 1986 resulted in the destruction of a community and its local environment, and thousands either dying or being diagnosed with life-altering illnesses in the fallout.

Meanwhile, MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell is shocked and dismayed at the perceived racism of a recent installment of the political comic strip Obama Nation by James Hudnall and Batton Lash. First Lady Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity initiative Let’s Move is the target. O’Donnell takes issue with how Lash portrayed the First Family.

My first thought is that these are reminders that comic strips, comic books, graphic novels – the sequential art form that these all use – can still stir a passionate response in people. Not that it’s even debatable, but the medium is still as vital as ever. So that’s great news.

Specifically though, do these comics go too far?

Your miles will vary. We all have varying levels of sensitivity to different topics. And if someone is genuinely upset or offended by something, that shouldn’t be dismissed. Having said that, artistic expression is still a freedom and a right we enjoy, as long as another’s freedoms, rights or safety aren’t limited as a result.

I’ll look at these one at a time after the clickie-jump: (more…)