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The European Legacy

Toward New Paradigms

ISSN: 1084-8770 (Print) 1470-1316 (Online) Journal homepage:

Julie Taymor, Sonys Digital Dream Kids, and the

Marxist Labor Theory of Value

David U. Garfinkle

To cite this article: David U. Garfinkle (2015): Julie Taymor, Sonys Digital Dream Kids, and the
Marxist Labor Theory of Value, The European Legacy, DOI: 10.1080/10848770.2015.1082712

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Published online: 11 Sep 2015.

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The European Legacy, 2015

Julie Taymor, Sonys Digital Dream Kids, and the

Marxist Labor Theory of Value


ABSTRACT Julie Taymor is an exemplary artist who has successfully made the transition from avant-
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garde director of live theatre in the 1980s to become a Broadway director for Disney Corporation with
The Lion King, and, more recently, a film director with Sonys nostalgic look at the music of the Beatles
in Across the Universe. Highlights of her careerspanning the latter half of the twentieth centuryoffer
excellent examples of the changes in the economics of creativity and artistic labor for a case study in cultural
and aesthetic values under global capitalism. Through interviews, newspapers and financial annual reports,
specific moments in Taymors oeuvre reveal key distinctions between cultural and intercultural values,
between aesthetic and financial exchange values, and highlight themes and limitations in the legacy of the
Marxist labor theory of value.

You say you want a revolution, well, you know, we all want to change the world.
John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Revolution,
The Beatles White Album (1968)
During the 1960s, I discovered the revolutionary potential of youth, as my genera-
tion claimed the right to express our values in the form of freedomsto avoid the draft,
to protest the Vietnam war, to engage in the sexual revolution, and, to not only
express our affections through rock and roll, but to lionize the prophets and martyrs of
the prevailing counterculture. Where once revolutionary values had fueled artistic labor,
acts of creativity, and generally informed the expressive potentials of popular culture,
contemporary formations of global capitalism have reconfigured the productive
relationships between creative labor and social change, love and revolution, aesthetic
value and political consciousness, to seemingly diminished values. From an early-
twenty-first-century vantage point, such forms and values of the revolution appear to
have been tamed and subsumed within the global economics of postindustrial
capitalism. If we all want to change the world, is it true that love is all you need?
Any answer to such a question requires a cross-disciplinary method of critique
that can reveal changes in the productive values of creative labor over time, to distin-
guish among productive forces, social values and ideological forms, all in relation to
emergent and pervasive media technologies of mass communications. Sadly, since the

Communications, McEwan University, c/o 8344120 Street, NW, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 1X2, Canada. Email:

2015 International Society for the Study of European Ideas


fall of the Soviet Union, the rise of global trade agreements and the postindustrial
transformation of the Western world into a neoconservative domination of the many
by the one percent, even the critique of capitalist logics in the legacy of Karl Marx
and his exemplary model for the analysis of sociopolitical economies have been deval-
ued, at a time when an understanding of the economic foundations underlying cultural
labor and social values may be most in need.1 Even the robust Marxist labor theory of
value has been the object of critique in the capitalist West, where any aspects of the
Marxian legacy can be disparaged as stalled, flawed and failed.2 Yet, rather than aban-
don the Marxist labor theory of value and give up on any emancipatory potential, it
would benefit those few among us who continue to hold onto a revolutionary telos,
in spite of the negative treatments of the Marxian legacy, to adapt the tools and meth-
ods of his economic critique to consider what is happening in the aesthetic realm
under the recent global formation of capitalism.3 As a refresher then for those younger
readers who have not yet encountered a Marxist analytic of aesthetic values, and for
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those more mature scholars who may have tentatively or enthusiastically accepted the
death of the left, leaving the instruments of cultural critique to rust, the following case
study presents historical moments in the directing career of Julie Taymor where the
Marxian critical legacy can still be instructive about current values of creative labor.
As the past champion of revolutionwhose analysis offered a means to critique
social transformationsMarx noted in his 1859 Preface to The Critique of Political
[I]n considering such transformations a distinction should always be made between
the material transformation of the economic conditions of production, which can be
determined with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious,
aesthetic and philosophicin short, ideological forms in which men become con-
scious of this conflict and fight it out.4

This necessity to differentiate between the material conditions of economic production

and the ideological forms of resultant commodities continues to offer robust commen-
tary on popular notions about the contemporary values of revolution, of love and of
art. If we can accept that there are limitations in the Marxist economic model of cri-
tique, some revisions may be suggested to help confirm its continuing use value. And,
as may be self-evident, the nature of ideological forms in the twenty-first century will
not have been familiar to the mid-nineteenth-century economist, and yet Marx was
able to predict that the increasing application of technology to economic production
would have severe consequences for the values of art, culture and human labor.
A few twists then may help to make the nineteenth-century theorist more palat-
able to the contemporary Western consciousness. A first amendment would expand
the word men (mensche) to include women, for surely feminists and female socialists
are conscious of the continuing struggle for gender parity, and certainly women do
fight it out and participate in the effort to change the world. A second amendment
regards the manner of method, for in the analysis of cultural and artistic production,
such as in the material transformations of the ideological forms of love, precision of
the natural sciences may also require some modifications. And a third amendment
must confront the notion of the natural sciences and its seeming limitations when
applied to global cultural values in relation to international finance.
Julie Taymor, Sonys Digital Dream Kids, and the Marxist Labor Theory of Value 3

The following case study looks at three cultural moments in the creative labor of
Julie Taymor through a lens of Marxs labor theory of value. Taymors careershe
started as a theater directorexemplifies three types of value transformation. First,
Taymors aesthetic intercultural labor is transformed into a First World commodity
form, followed by a second shift where the artistic form is transformed from a high
modernist aesthetic event into a digital commodity form for global distribution. And
third, in a more recent example, we see how Taymor herself, with her pallet of cre-
ative skills and the aesthetic values of her labor, is commodified. We see how the
music-video form participates in the commodification of the artist, in a transformation
from a creative genius into an elite brand for corporate profits. With the help of inter-
views and reviews on her work and the financial reports of transnational corporations
like Sony International, my aim is to better understand the Marxian legacy in general,
and more particularly how values of cultural and creative labor have been and con-
tinue to be transformed in the recent (r)evolution of global capitalism.
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In 1952 baby boomer Julie Taymor was born to upper-middle-class parents in

Boston. Her interests, exceptional intelligence and aptitude for work in the theatre,
were recognized in the preteens dramatics performed in the backyard of the family
home. Eileen Blumenthals Playing with Fire described the early years of Taymors
ensemble training in experimental theatre in Massachusetts and New York, and upon
early graduation from high school in 1969, her study of mask at LEcole de Mime Jacques
Lecoq in Paris.5 With internships under Joseph Chaikin and Peter Schumanns Bread
and Puppet Theater, and studies in anthropology at Columbia University with
Margaret Mead, Taymor was accepted as the youngest member to the ensemble at
Oberlin College under Herbert Blau. Before graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1974,
Taymor would direct and perform lead roles in both collective creations and
traditional drama, her energies focused upon the productive labor of creative theatre
straddling both avant-garde and more conventional realms of aesthetic values (13).
If labor is an activity in production of a value or commodity, Taymors early
labor offers helpful distinctions to understand the Marxian model of value. Labor has
no definitive value for the laborer outside of the subjective experience of the worker,
for such effort can only be explained in apparent and phenomenal moments, usually
measured in time. This early period of labor marks a transition in Taymors energies
from the relative autonomy of youth, under the umbrella of family and educational
institutions, to efforts of social labor within a given societal context, in this case the
aesthetic avant-garde of the Eastern United States and the Western cultural capitals of
New York and Paris. By the end of this period Taymor has acquired mastery in the
skills of mask making, theatrical training and ensemble creation. In the public presenta-
tions of her work as actor, designer-director, a promising and gifted apprentice
emerges as a first-rate director, a high status creative theatre artist. With both public
acclaim and financial reward for her creative labor, her privileged status can be recog-
nized within the relative values of social labor, where labour crystallized in [the pro-
duction of] a commodity constitutes its value.6
Distinctions of productive power in the labor value of a theatre artist can be traced
in the development of one of Taymors earliest works, Tirai, described by Blumenthal
in Julie Taymor Playing with Fire (1520). Translated from Bahasa Indonesian as
curtain, the work was an ensemble creation on the theme of borders and limitations.

There are three distinct periods of cultural exchange embodied in Tirai, beginning with
the original experience of a sacred Balinese initiation ceremony, later adapted as an
international project for touring Southeast Asia, to finally be restaged as an intercultural
aesthetic commodity for a New York based theatre production.
An interesting clue to Taymors sense of intercultural values is revealed in reports
of the behavior of her part-French part-Lebanese colleague George Roland, present
with Taymor at the original experience on the side of a live volcano at the Balinese
village of Trunyan. Under moonlight with the music of gamelan surrounding the vil-
lage, Taymor witnessed the elders in sacred garb dancing in communion with their
gods (16). During the climax of the next days ceremonies, the young initiates, dressed
as sacred forest spirits, performed a ritual game with the villagers. Roland, however, to
Taymors chagrin, had thrown himself into the ritual, bartering most of his clothes to
the forest spirits and becoming the centre of attention (17). Immersion in another
culture was appropriate, but violating that cultures traditions was not. Blumenthal
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writes that in her role as an artist, Taymor was lonely. After two years of language
immersion, she was still an outsider who could only witness the sacred communion of
artistic rituals practiced by the intergenerational families of a local Balinese community.
She was not of the community yet shared in the spirituality of the act of creation with
the community. Rolands rupture in crossing the boundary is seen to confirm
Taymors respect for an authoritative sense of a perceived authenticity in cultural
values when viewed from her own private sphere. As an outsider, Taymors future
work in the public sphere would hold high value for the sacred in the arts of creation.
Cultural borders would repeatedly challenge Taymors leadership of the interna-
tional ensemble over the more than ten-month process of creating Tirai. Blumenthal
reports how Taymors assumptions about her gender, age, race and class came under
scrutiny in the process of collaboration. We were five Balinese, one Sudanese, two
East Javanese, a Central Javanese, a Frenchman, and two Americans.7 As an Ameri-
can, and the youngest female in the ensemble, Taymors authority in the group
required the support of the elder artist, Pak Tempo, whose respect in the eyes of the
group helped to balance the concerns of those members with traditional values of
leadership. Negotiations over gender equality were also necessary to counter the tradi-
tional dominance of conversations by the men and the preparation of meals by the
women. We can see a glimpse of what values function within the cultural exchange
between traditional communities of South East Asia and the secular individualism of
the West. Once again Roland provides a clue to Taymors emerging sense of values
when he tries to introduce the practice of Western style improvisation into the
training regime of the Teatr Loh ensemble. Taymor wrote of the experience in 1982.
Roland kept pushing the actors to realize and feel, [but] the result was totally
unrelated to the reality of the Indonesian temperament and taste.
Another key experience of cultural exchange was revealed in the group explo-
rations of telling stories from different points of view. Telling tales of the Ramayana,
for example, from Sitas perspective, gave the women of the ensemble a new experi-
ence in the role of art.8 From our distant vantage, it is difficult to evaluate where
Taymors boundaries lay between respect for equality of all participants and the colo-
nialist impositions of one cultural value over another, but it appears that she was very
conscious of such border crossings. Reviews of Tirai in Java and Bali were mixed in
Julie Taymor, Sonys Digital Dream Kids, and the Marxist Labor Theory of Value 5

regard to the non-traditional representations of sacred cultural practices, but generally

impressed with the quality of artistry in the hybrid forms of intercultural performance.
The value of Taymors individual experience on the volcano, along with her skill
sets and formative contributions, became a form of social labor value in the collective
efforts of the ensemble. When Tirai was performed for free in the village square, the
aesthetic values may be viewed as cultural, while in the enclosed performances, before
a paying audience in the cities and villages, the labor value becomes a specific
commodity for market exchange.
Back in New York City in 1981 Taymor restaged Tirai at La Mama E.T.C. with
American actors. If one assumes the capitalist model of corporate ownership, further
distinctions of the value of labor may be discerned within the means of this theatrical
production. If Taymors first transition marks how a sacred cultural ritual of experience
is transformed into a secular aesthetic commodity through social labor, then this next
transition is a further commodification of the former, or as a fetish. The social labor that
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was crystallized in the process of rehearsals now forms two kinds of commodity, the
performance text, and the production of the performance as a product. Tatymors labor
time - spent in the previous workshop process - with the original collective has already
been crystallized and is now a formulaic text to be staged by a new ensembles labor, in
the production of a theatrical text in New York City. Taymor the director now has
weeks instead of months to produce an artistic work under competitive market condi-
tions of rent and of the much higher living costs required for the contributing labor of
her ensemble members. The value of Tirai has been exchanged from one of cultural
labor in a community context to a commodity value of one theatre event among hun-
dreds of competing events. There is still an eventness value, however transformed;
the sacred context that had been reduced to the sacred content within a secular context
is now an aesthetic value to be recaptured in special moments of artistry by the new cast
in every new performance event. There is an exchange of values, from the economic
model of a unique shared experience of communal living to a special event repeated
under conditions of wage labor. What was previously international in conception,
production and reception is now intercultural in content, while production and
reception of the form have been appropriated by the cosmopolitan national project and
caught in the universal flow of exchange values in the monetary system.
Taymors labor value can now be assessed in terms of surplus value, defined as
that quantity of paid and unpaid labor over and above the costs of production of a
commodity.9 Taymor does not have to pay for the training or maintenance of
the labor power of her cast in the same way as her grant monies did in Indonesia. The
international ensemble shared expenses for subsistence communal living, while
the New York cast members each have to pay for rent, utilities and groceries as wage
earners. As New York living costs are astronomical compared to rural Indonesia, the
costs of production go way up, but each higher cost has a subsidy. The actors compete
as highly trained performers and are chosen for the appropriateness of the skill sets each
has already attained, hence minimal training costs. Taymor will pay only a part of the
costs of living in wages to her cast members for each actor has various sources of
income and will subsidize their own labor to participate in a quality artistic experience.
The host theatre of La Mama E.T.C. receives grants from state and federal sources and
pays a nominal rent subsidized by the City of New York. La Mama subsidized the

production costs for rehearsal space, public presentation staff, rent and advertising, and
possibly, production costs for the creative team. As the script had been finalized already
through months of experimental rehearsal, the show can now be mounted as a pre-set
text, with nominal copyright fees to be paid to one person only, instead of split among
the original ensemble members. Taymor gains the credits for writing, design and direc-
tion of the New York Tirai. The value of the New York production to Taymor can be
understood in the balance of past and current costs, against present and future gains. A
spin-off value from this period of work was The Theater Imagery of Julie Taymor,
presented at the New York Public Library in Lincoln Center in the fall of 1988. A
magical landscape, filled with richly decorated costumes, sculptural masks and shadow
puppets, as advertised in The New York Times, offers evidence of the continuing
commodification of Taymors design work, as she moved outside of the theater.10
Within the corporate model of high capitalism in the 1970s and 1980s, works of
the aesthetic avant-garde did not usually compete evenly with their competitors in the
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commercial entertainment market and could be described as somewhat autonomous.

Taymors work evolved in a series of relatively autonomous economic realms, from
the privilege of her upper-middle-class family and elite education, to the grants and
fellowships covering her international excursions in Indonesia and the subsidies of her
avant-garde intercultural art projects. Throughout these years, Taymor is a not for
profit baby, her labor supported by state and corporate contributions to not-for-profit
enterprises.11 Behind the seeming autonomy of the artist, grants from the Ford
Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and a Watson Fellowship, are
made possible by the interest accrued from financial profits and stored as investments
for charitable purposes. Thus in the not-for-profit economy there is a relative auton-
omy in terms of content and working conditions for the artist within a community,
but when it comes to a product as a commodity, the values of market exchange
challenge the autonomy of those aesthetic and production values.
One final irony in the exchange of values during this formative period of
Taymors career again revolves around Roland, as described by Blumenthal. Before
Taymor met Roland in Bali, he was living in a hut on the grounds of an abandoned
resort. Apparently the investors who built the resort paid no attention to the local
beliefs that the site chosen for construction was an ancient place of powerful spirits.
After importing labor to build the resort, as none of the locals would participate, the
project was finally abandoned. Only foreigners like Roland had the Western disdain
for local superstitions and stayed free of charge on the grounds of the empty resort.
When the Teatr Loh ensemble formed under Julie Taymor and Pak Tempo, the com-
pany made the grounds their home. Unlike Roland, the company members made
regular devotions to the spirits in respect for the local values (17). Incidentally, the
prime investor to take the loss in the Peti Tenget resort was the Coca Cola Company.
Like the Coca Cola Company, the Sony Corporation had little to do with
Taymor, or even the avant-garde theatre in America, during this era of high capi-
talism. Sony had been incorporated just after World War II as a producer of miniatur-
ized electronic devices, gradually making inroads into the American markets with the
phonographic record player, the portable radio transceiver, and the cathode ray televi-
sion.12 With the advent of broadcast radio and television, Sony was well positioned to
sell the means for the average public to watch their favorite programs or listen to their
Julie Taymor, Sonys Digital Dream Kids, and the Marxist Labor Theory of Value 7

favorite songs at home or in private. During the same period of the baby boomer
generation, U.S. corporations established networks for the creation and distribution of
popular entertainments, such as Columbia Records and the NBC in New York, and
Columbia Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn Meyers Studios based in Los Angeles. Sonys
big break came with the advent of rock and roll and the electronic devices necessary
for its consumption.
The material of Taymors labor transfers from one ideological form to another;
from live theatre onto the cellulose form of independent art film. Two paired exam-
ples reveal the impact of technology on the changing aesthetic values of her oeuvre, in
the shift from stage to screen with both Oedipus Rex13 and Titus Andronicus.14 Early in
the two years of development for Oedipus, in 1991, Julie Taymor won a MacArthur
Award with a quarter of a million dollar fellowship and the epithet of genius. Even
before being selected by Seiji Ozawa for the leadership role in staging Oedipus,
Taymor herself had become a commodity in the art world. Along with her
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MacArthur, the artist as genius entered the elite international art scene of Stravinsky
and Shakespeare, utilizing the same skill sets developed in her early training. Though
not yet a hot property in the commercial entertainment industry, Taymor had been
able to leverage her reputation and creative visions into the global elite.
Throughout her experience as a designer and director, two types of artistic form
have become signatures evident in all of her works: the actor as ideograph and the
elaborate head mask. The ideograph, developed back in Oberlin College under
the direction of Herbert Blau, was an actors whole body gestus distilled to represent
the essence of a character.15 In contrast to the Brechtian gestus with its formal economic
historicism, the Blauian ideograph was based on the expressive gestural configuration of
the bodys plasticity, as a figurative idea of the characters essential experience. In
Universals of Performance, Blau theorized his search for a form that could present
the substance of the theatrical in the idea of performance.16
According to reviews of both the staged version and the subsequent art film of
Oedipus Rex, Taymors attempt to recapture the primitive energy once possessed of
art successfully transferred from stage to screen through the ideograph and the head-
mask.17 In Oedipus, Taymor doubled the opera performers, who were dwarfed under
head masks and costumed robes. Their actions were amplified by the anguish of Butoh
dancers covered in clay, while the narratorin an extreme theatrical characterization
screamed his part in stylized Japanese. With these unifying features, Taymor stitched
the scenes linking the doubled leads and choruses.
Yet, the shared presence of the human voice and the kinesthetic sympathy of
audience and performer were both lost in the works transfer to cellulose. I watched
the DVD release of Oedipus Rex on my Sony Trinitron television, and though moved
by the rich substance of the theatrical, I experienced the idea of performance as merely
the representation of an idea, flattened into the two dimensional screen.18
Likewise, watching the horrors of the Andronicus family and friends in Titus on
the large movie screen (with surround Dolby sound), we see Taymors signature ideo-
graphs under Etruscan head masks in an imperial Rome. Compared to Oedipus, Titus
was far more effective in sustaining the idea of human performance, however abhor-
rent the human truth depicted therein.19 As horror film heightens the spectacular
effects, graphic scenes in Titus were constructed as penny arcade nightmares

(or PANs).20 As noted in an interview for American Theater by Sean Abbot, the new
form of PAN entered Taymors signature pallet of skills.21 In the screen versions of
both Oedipus and Titus, the rich kinaesthetic experience of a highly theatrical repre-
sentation is flattened from three- into a two-dimensional vision, while the rich acous-
tic dimension attempts to compensate for the loss (but to the degree of quality limited
by your own in-home audio system).
As a commodity, the DVDs of both Oedipus Rex and Titus are now available for
home entertainment. The commodity form of a DVD is yet another technological
innovation in a series of revolutions from radio to records, from tape to disc, bringing
artistic quality content to international markets. Whereas the live staging of Oedipus,
two years in the making, was performed twice at the Saito Kinen Festival in
Matsumoto, Japan, for a summer emerging musicians festival, the recorded video
opened access to high art for millions of viewers worldwide. Titus also became
available for world access, but through a more tenuous route.
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The original staging of Titus Andronicus in New York at the Theater for a New
Audience had a sold-out show for its run, but this success was not enough to convince
investors to back the film version. Richard Burt in his chapter on Shakespeare and
the Holocaust traced the financing woes of the dark film project of Titus. Even
with the text of the highbrow Bard and a stunning response to the preview at the
Cannes film fest, the subject was deemed too violent to garner a producer. Disney
passed, Miramax then bailed, before the overseas independent company Clear Blue
Sky Productions optioned the script. Distribution was the challenge, and the market
sensitivity to a release after the Columbine High School murders made timing a prob-
lem, but it was produced for around seventeen million dollars. Finally Twentieth
Century Fox distributed it in the United States and produced the DVD.22 The profit
value for Taymors work as released in DVD format would have been zero, as her
work as director/designer had already been paid in wages and copyright fees, but as
part producer, she shares in the ownership of the copyright for the work with the glo-
bal entertainment corporation. Usually top-billing in the credits is used for appropri-
ate acknowledgement of the artistic role of creative labor, but on the DVD, the billing
serves also as a form of branding for that corporation.
After poor reviews in the New York papers, Titus did not immediately recoup the
costs of production. The value of the artistic commodity now has two lives, the live
but limited engagement for an elite theatre audience, and a far wider distribution in the
availability of DVD for the mediated viewing of those with average incomes. Taymor
reported that profits for Titus came from film distribution release in other markets, such
as Europe and Brazil, and in domestic sales of DVDs (Burt 300). Taymor is paid twice
for her work, first in the fee for the actual labor of production, and later in residual
profits from sales of recordings. The profits come after the theatrical release of the film
in the form of downstream products, marketing and merchandising, including the
two-disc DVD with accompanying interviews and documentary commentaries, and in
lavish full-color coffee-table books, as in the edition of the screenplay and the second
edition of Playing with Fire. Copyright to Titus is now held by Clear Blue Sky Produc-
tions, and owned by Paul Allen of Vulcan Productions Inc.,23 while the soundtrack of
Titus is owned and distributed by Sony International. Universal Music Group, a
company that holds 25% of the world music market (as of 2007), now owns
Julie Taymor, Sonys Digital Dream Kids, and the Marxist Labor Theory of Value 9

distribution rights for the DVD of Oedipus Rex, originally produced by Philips of the
Netherlands.24 The aesthetic values of Taymors visions have become marketing
qualities within a framework where the form of art as the original content source
becomes a distinctive brand vehicle for the sale of commodities in the maintenance of
downstream corporate profit margins.
In 1998, Julie Taymor received Tony Awards for directing and design of the hit
mega-musical The Lion King, as reported in the Wall Street Journal. In her acceptance
speech she caught the attention of the Wall Street Journal when she said, I thank you
Disney. Responsible for the largest hit in the history of the Disney Corporation,
Taymor had the financial backing to try out multiple versions of her artistic ideas and
was given full creative rein for final decisions by the corporate executive. This has paid
off for Disney. In 2007, according to the New York Times, of the fifteen musical pro-
ductions now playing worldwide, eight are The Lion King. The show made Disney
over 100 million dollars in its first two tours, and has been seen by over 45 million
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people in the last decade.25 Taymor crossed the border between the not-for-profit arts
and the commercial entertainment worlds; from intercultural avant-garde genius to the
profitable formulae of an award winning visionary. A skilled leaders labors with an
international ensemble became a commodity for a global market.
In 2007, all of the Disney worldwide operations, touring and Broadway shows,
theme parks and merchandising, comprised annual revenue of $35.5 billion (valued in
2007 at ~4.4 trillion yen in Disney revenues). Compared to revenues of ~8.3 trillion
yen in that year for Sony International, Disneys operations earned slightly over half
the revenues from Sonys more than one thousand consolidated subsidiary compa-
nies.26 The value of Taymors labor, now commodified in products for both Disney
and Sony enters a virtual realm of the hyper-simulacra in this age of global capitalism.
The surplus value of her labor is now distributed virtually into infinity, yet could be
reckoned by the rise and fall of her work on the current stock price and dividends of
Sony Global on any of three major stock exchanges.27 Within the commodities pro-
duced from her creative labors, values are distributed among transnational economies
of scale for the compact disc of the music, the digital video of the work, and for her
costume designs.
Between 1988 and 2005 Sony International made a series of purchases of U.S.
registered entertainment companies. Starting with CBC Records Group and the Beatle
collection from Columbia records, Sony Music Entertainment was formed. Columbia
Pictures was bought from Coca Cola in 1989 to become Sony Pictures Entertainment.
These Sony subsidiaries then diversified their holdings and took over other corpora-
tions, branching into content creation for the American entertainment, film, gaming
and music DVD markets. In 1991 Sony purchased Culver City Studios, resold it in
2004, and in 2005, with a consortium, bought 20% of the MGM Company. This
stock takeover included the recording libraries of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and United
Studios with thousands of classic American film titles. By 2005, Sony Global had
control of 21.5% of the global music market, and 19% of the U.S. entertainment
After its release in 2007, Across the Universe won an Oscar for Costume Design at
the 80th annual Academy Awards, and the Grammy Award winning soundtrack sold at
the rate of 29,000 copies per week in the U.S. market.29 Taymor received the director

credit with her fee, and her partner Eliot Goldenthal, who composed the musical cov-
ers of the Beatle songs, also received his credit and fee. Sony Corporation now holds
the U.S. distribution rights for the songs of the Beatles, as well as copyright for the
film, the DVD and the soundtrack. The music videos producer, Revolution Studios,
founded in cooperation with Columbia Pictures, now lies within the U.S. Entertain-
ment Division of Sony Global. After fifty days, the film release of Across the Universe
had grossed 21.5 million dollars in U.S. domestic box office.30 But, after the fifty-sec-
ond week, the film dropped off the charts, while thirteen other film products owned
by Sony subsidiaries remained in the top one hundred.31
What is interesting in terms of aesthetic value is when the U.S. subsidiary of
Sony, Revolution Studios, makes a film about revolution, actually a musical, or feature
film quality music video. This production raises the question as to what happens to
the aesthetic value of Taymors labor when produced under the corporate body named
Revolution, and reproduced in the commodity form of a DVD? In 1987, Blau wrote
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that the delusions of revolution maintain the chain of servitude intact.(Blau 1987,
166) If the theatre is a place where nothing is being transacted except what has been
imposed on the disfigured body of thought of an infinite chain of representation,
then the actor only represents an idea, which gives the illusion of an acting freedom
but really comes from elsewhere.32 In the film representation, the disfigured body of
thought disappears even further along into the chain of representations. In Across the
Universe, the scenes depicting the protest in the United States against the Vietnam war
come closest to the idea of revolution than in any other Taymor project, yet neither
the staged nature of the protest as a theatrical representation, nor its reproduction in
DVD for home entertainment offer any challenge to the chain of servitude. The film
tends more towards the nostalgic representation of the memory of protest, again a
re-presentation of an idea of revolution. Taymor comments on her own experience as
a teenager when the college students were going through the radical political move-
ment. I was thereI didnt get immersed myself, but I watched it.33 If revolutionary
acts are depicted in the film, they are as background to a series of love affairs. Like
Julie, we watch, but are not immersed in it.
The most effective use of Taymors skills is found in those scenes where the the-
atrical predominates, or when the theatrical constructedness is juxtaposed against the
represented illusory realism of the scene. In the peaceful march demonstrating against
the Vietnam War, the nameless feminized masks among the marchers remind the audi-
ence of the disappeareds, those whose names have been erased, the face generalized,
in a universalization of the victims of repressive regimes where husband and brothers
are killed with no official recognition. The disfigured body, whether as a giant puppet
or behind the generic mask, juxtaposed against the now familiar dramatis personae, calls
attention to the constructed nature of the filmed scene, and helps to remind the viewer
that the true feelings of the protester in the scene, like the faces of the repressed, are
never known, nor knowable. The victims are represented as generic others and
whether victimized by the war in Vietnam or elsewhere, or by repressive regimes the
world over, they are not us.
Another realm where the aesthetic values of Taymors theatrical background are
more successful lies in those scenes that use theatrical stylizations to interpret the situa-
tion or the feelings of the protagonists. The theatrical elements function analogously as
Julie Taymor, Sonys Digital Dream Kids, and the Marxist Labor Theory of Value 11

poetic language to heighten our awareness of the process of signifying practices as

described in Revolution in Poetic Language by Julia Kristeva. Kristeva proposes that
the only way to break out of the closed systems of finite causality represented in lan-
guage and in film, is to decenter and elaborate the process within plural and
heterogeneous universes.34 We can see this elaboration in scenes of surrealism in
Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite, of constructivism in the draft induction scene I
Want You, or in the masks of primitivism in the protest march to Revolution. The
filmic focus techniques in the cheerleaders song of I Want to Hold Your Hand,
and the abject character of Joe Cocker who is framed within stylized choreographies
of prostitutes and businessmen in Come Together, all help to decenter the closure
of the representations as merely an idea of verisimilitude (mimesis). Each song repre-
sents a different framing device, a unique narrative point of view, and a set of theatrical
mediations among the visual, the figural, and the temporal-spatial. Songs that combine
multiple devices, such as Being for the Memory of Mr. Kite or Because, are par-
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ticularly effective in the way the singing of the lyrics alternates first with direct address
to the camera, and then in commentary on the situation by a form of textual tags.
These thick theatrical scenes reveal the most intense aesthetic values. The styles of
theatricality in the idea of performance, though veiled in the visual flow across time
in the representations of history, now embody the emotions of a musical romance. A
plot made up of songs in the form of a musical, technologically stitched together into
the narrative structure of a series of music videos, seems ideally suited to Taymors
work. In an interview with Sylviane Gold for American Theater in 1998, Julie said,
What I love about theatre is that it is a poetic medium. It is about finding essence,
and that to me makes it a liberating medium.35 In film, Taymors love is in the
theatrical details, mediated through time frames of shared musical memories.
The question remains, wheres the love? If, as she said in her interview with
Gold, theater is my skin, how does the work get under our skin to something that
matters, something we love? I believe Taymor found love in her interpretive theatri-
calizations of the music (and in the composer Eliot, with whom she moved into a new
loft after the MacArthur Award). The entire concept for this musical is that the lyrics
will tell the story. They are the emotion of the characters.36 What matters for those
who lived through the songs of the Beatles or the Vietnam war, the draft and the
dodgers, the communality of experience in the lifestyle of rock and roll, are the values
we place on the Lennon and McCartney songs, or in the experiences that went
through us when we heard the songs before, or in the nostalgic idea of the memories
of what we used to feel. When presented in Taymors startling stylistic blends of
communication techniques, the values are relived again. The music recalls what gets
under the skin.
What is the quality of affect in such a subjective experience? Three male teens,
who had heard some of the Beatles songs from their parents, discovered the music
anew, loved it, and joined a new generation in their formative associations, soon to
become memories of fun.37 What we experience in the later recall of the song and its
representation is measured in how one values those momentary aspirations, as a gestalt
of affect for old or new memories in a discourse of nostalgia. Taymors gift to the
commercial entertainment industry is a value of theatricality in forming the moments
of memory, in the ideological forms of excitement and fun. She reveals her interest is

in the transformation between media, from people to theatre and puppets and now
music to film, as seen by millions.38
Excitement, desire and fun are of particular interest to United Sony Global in
their Digital Dream Kids Strategy as revealed in their Annual Reports for 1997 (and
Under the Digital Dream Kids concept, Sony aims to harness the potential of digital
technology to continue supplying [the] sources of enjoyment for customers around
the world (1997 ii). Sony brings new meaning to the word fun, in con-
sumer electronics [and] has continued to provide excitement through vast assets
of music and filmed entertainment (1). ... Record sales and earnings congratulated
Sonys fiftieth birthday, with plans for: [r]e- generation. all part of the never-
ending challenge of creating and realizing new dreams (3). ... To fulfill the dreams
of customers worldwide we have to become digital dream kids mesmerized by
new technologies. Our primary goal for the Pictures Group is to produce movies
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that embod[y] dreams, [t]o make dreams come true for all people. [W]e want to
attract people with creative talent and help them realize their dreams. And this
leads to the creation of new dreams (5). ... The convergence of digital technology
and entertainment is the driving force behind our quest to provide new and
more exciting dreams and sources of enjoyment (6). We are determined to lead
the way in entertainment and dream creation (8).
If skin acts as both barrier and contact with the outside world for Taymor,39 she
may transform and be transformed by her labor, thereby changing her social values in
her own desire for the technological opportunity to make dreams.
If love is all you need then what is the value of love in terms of the aestheticised
revolution? The aesthetics of the ideological forms of revolution can lead to the promo-
tion of a fascist aesthetic as in Burts read of Titus, or to the celebration of life as
reclamation of identity as I understand Taymors intent in The Lion King, but neither
option offers revolutionary values. Across the Universe does aestheticize love, but also
romanticizes war as well as resistance to war. And yet, its privileging of the normative
only allows us a glimpse of the disfigured body in the idea of a decentered status quo.
The novelty of techniques for combining the theatrical body with the social imaginary
is effective to the degree that the theatricality helps to allow a personal experience to
get under the skin. When novelty replaces the values of nature, a myth of identity stands
over experience, and universality replaces social responsibility.40 In 1999, Taymor
shared her excitement about the possibilities of an aestheticized nature with Richard
Schechner in her recognition of the potentials for theatricalization of the natural, as
aided by technology. Take a cave and paint the cave. you stylize the natural. I mean
you could film from helicopters, you know, any angle.41 The affect of love is removed
from the mortality of flesh, from the particularity of the subject, and distanced from the
natural. Both nature and affect here are victims of surplus value.
One final challenge is to the notion of natural science in Marxs Critique of Political
Economy. There is nothing natural about a painted cave or a stylized landscape shot from a
helicopter. And that is the point. A Marxian critique will need to adapt to the concept of
natural science so as to include not only the natural experience of the social heart shared
among peoples, but the comptrollers science or fiscal accounting, as found in past aesthetic val-
ues commodified in contemporary technological forms. My hope is that the future labor
Julie Taymor, Sonys Digital Dream Kids, and the Marxist Labor Theory of Value 13

of Julie Taymor will continue to bring her heart to her aesthetic values, allowing us to get
under the skin of her labors, without the loss of social awareness in the aesthetics of those
transformations. There is a danger of denial in representing only the idea of a memory of
subjectivity for individuals caught up in the thrilling dreams of the scopo-philiac mecha-
nism, or in the exchanging accountabilities of value in global capital.
The financial Reports of Sony Global on its fiftieth birthday reveal that in 1995,
the operating income from U.S. operations showed a loss of 296 billion yen. On page
61, a note explains that the amount includes the write-off of goodwill for the second
quarter of year end 1995. This is further detailed on page 48 stating the company
changed its method of accounting for assessing the carrying value of its investments in
acquired business including goodwill. In the not-for-profit accounting sector, good-
will is an item on the annual balance sheet valued at a nominal fee, usually one cent.
What business acquisition in the US had goodwill of close to 300 billion yen or $2.2
billion, and required an accounting method change to the parent companys birthday
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books? Evidently, Sony Corporation wrote off its purchase of a piece of the American
imagination (i.e. MGM archive, Columbia Pictures, et. al.) to the tune of $1.3 billion
in goodwill, and intangibles valued at $9 billion (40).42 Those assets that helped to
build the American Dream of the baby boomers were devalued as of December 31,
1995, in an instant disappearance of all that modern American goodwill, as if it was
unwanted for accounting purposes. I can only imagine that that content will be trans-
formed by and for the digital dream kids and sold back to American entertainment
consumers in a never-ending cycle of aesthetic surplus value in the capitalist creation
of global profits on sales of digital electronic devices.
Marxs labor theory of value continues to provide fruitful critical notions to
distinguish among productive forces, social values, and ideological forms. As demon-
strated by the sample works from Taymors oeuvre, the theory remains highly relevant
for our understanding of economic values of creative labor, even in the twenty-first
century. With the three specific modifications covered here, the theorys analytic
praxis can still be useful to critique the emancipatory potentials of contemporary cre-
ative efforts. First, cultural changes from the time of Marxs writings require modifica-
tions so as to include the creative labors of women as producers, consumers, and
participants in the raising of emancipatory consciousness. Second, the quality of preci-
sionlimited originally to the natural sciences, is in need of reconsideration. For, as
values approach zero or infinity, or are such that they can be written off for tax
benefits, methods from the natural sciences must embrace the negative, as well as the
positivist, dialectic, and even consider the open systems of dissipative logic.
Last, is the need to draw upon additional resources beyond the natural sciences,
such as the analytic methodologies of international finance and accounting. With these
analytic tools, tracking changes in transitional notions of artistic and monetary value
become possible and remain necessary. For, while precision remains feasible in the
quantitative realms of economic production and, to a lesser degree, in commodity
exchange, the qualitative realms of cultural labors present a challenge to such a para-
digm. With such modifications to a Marxist theory of value, even aesthetic valuations
of affects, such as love and fun, of dreams and of nostalgia, can be better understood.
And, where occupations and whole fields of endeavor enter into commodity forms
and trans-valuative modes, even complex practices such as theatricality must be viewed

as both a commodity and an ideological form within the emergent digital forces of
production, reproduction, distribution and consumption.

No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author.


An earlier version of this article was presented at the 13th international conference of ISSEI,
the University of Cyprus, Nicosia, Cyprus, 26 July 2012, in the workshop on Commod-
ifying Aesthetics: An Exploration of the Triangular Relationship between Art, Commerce,
and Technology in a Global World.
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1. In Media and Participation: A Site of Ideological-Democratic Struggle (Bristol: Intellect Ltd.,

2011), Nico Carpentier has identified the postmodern neo-Marxists and their modernist
predecessors. The theorists who continue to use and modify Marxist notions of personal
and political participation and the role of the work place in productive labor, include
Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe (1985) on the agonistic model of radical pluralism;
Jurgen Habermas (1999) on dialogue in the public sphere; Vincent Mosco (1996) and
Armand Mattelart (1984) on the political economy of communication; Michel de Certeau
(1984) on body-related tactics; Pierre Bourdieu on mediated representation and power in
the social order (1991); and Bruno Latour (2005) on actor network theory. Specific
Marxist-inspired artistic movements range from situationist and fluxus to post-fluxus and
neo-concretist (Carpentier 2011, 5659) from the spect-actor theories of Brechts lehres-
tucke and Boals Theatre of the Oppressed (1979), to the emergent relational aesthetics of
Nicolas Bourriaud (2006), to mention a few of the better known post-Marxist theorists.
Sample Marxist informed theorists who continue to investigate the labor theory of value in
relation to aesthetics include Frank Popper (1975), Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri
(1998, 2000, 2008), and Anna Dezeuze (2010). On biopower and the virtual realm, see
Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire (2000); Antonio Negri, Empire and Beyond
(2006, 2008), and Michael Hardt, The Withering of Civil Society (1998). Finally, Ross
Abbinnett (2006) argues that the contemporary critique of Marxist theory fails to account
for valuations of market prices and suggests a revisionist model of transeconomic capi-
talism that shows the migration of capital away from the production of real social goods
and use values as a critical condition of the current crisis in the modes of production.
2. Two full-length studies of the Marxian theory of labor value with its historical precedents
and antecedents include Peter C. Dooley, The Labor Theory of Value (New York:
Routledge, 2005), which views Marxs theory as both a scientific method and a theory of
history (225), and traces how Marx turned the production theory of commodities, from
the legacy of Hobbes, Petty and Locke, into a production theory of values (227). It is the
doctrine of labor as the producer of all commodities and the origin of value, supported by
both Adam Smith and Karl Marx, that is rejected by modern economists who note how
Marx failed to demonstrate the transformation of labor values into market prices (230). And
yet, if Marx did not extend his logic as far into the future conditions as his critics would
demand, he was able to turn the labor theory of value into an ideological attack on the
capitalist world (231). In The Labor Theory of Culture (Boston, MA: Routledge & Kegan
Paul, 1982), Charles Woolfson traces the historical precedents of the labor theory from
Friedrich Engels, V. Lenin, and Georg Lukacs, to focus on the nature of speech in symbolic
transformations of material labor, and the Marxian legacy built upon the leftist psychologists
Vygotsky, Lomov, and Leontiev. In Culture and Finance Capital, from The Cultural
Turn: Selected Writings on the Postmodern 19831998 ([London: Verso, 2009], 13661),
Julie Taymor, Sonys Digital Dream Kids, and the Marxist Labor Theory of Value 15

Fredric Jameson reminds us of the central importance of Harry Bravermans Labor and
Monopoly Capital: The Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century (1974; New York:
Monthly Review Press, 1998).
3. In addition to Fredric Jamesons work, sample cultural critiques of Marxist theory include
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Scattered Speculations on the Question of Value, in In
Other Worlds, Essays in Cultural Politics (New York: Routledge, 1988), and Teresa Brennan,
Appendix: The Labor Theory of Value and the Subject-Object Distinction, in History
after Lacan (New York: Routledge, 1993), 197217. Both Brennan and Spivak, acknowl-
edge the limitations of the Marxian project, yet continue to use the labor theory of value
in a dialectic critique, with deletions, additions and revisions, to consider post-structural
notions outside of Marxs modernist perspective. Brennan expands upon the energetic
requirements in the materialization of labor, and offers a revisionist view of subject-object
relations, while Spivak re-examines the notion of exploitation in relation to use, surplus
and exchange values in light of the textuality of Marxs argument on the value of labor. In
Empire (2000), Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri regard the labor theory of value as a the-
ory of the measure of value, that must be extended beyond measure into the virtual realm.
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They recognize how Marxs future is our present, and retain Marxs distinction between
emancipation and liberation (Negri Empire, 355, 364, 36263). They also acknowledge the
Marxist debt in Brechtian dialectics (Negri Empire and Beyond, 2006, 18687), and in the
critical tools necessary to understand contemporary conditions of the changing composition
and nature of labor power (2006, 164). Further poststructuralist critiques of Marx on the
changing conditions of labor in the global mediasphere can be found in Homi Bhabha, The
Location of Culture (London: Routledge, 1994, 1995); Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism, or,
The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1995), and in
the pioneering work of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, such as Anti-Oedipus, Capitalism
and Schizophrenia (London: Athlone Press, 1984), and A Thousand Plateaus, Capitalism and
Schizophrenia (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1987).
4. Karl Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (1859), in Karl Marx and
Frederick Engels, Selected Works in Two Volumes (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing
House, 1958), vol. 1, 363.
5. Eileen Blumenthal, Julie Taymor Playing with Fire (New York: Abrams, 2007) 10; hereafter
cited in the text.
6. Karl Marx, Wages, Price and Profit (1898), Karl Marx and Frederick Engels: Selected Works
in Two Volumes, Vol. 1, Ibid, 418.
7. Julie Taymor, interview by Richard Schechner, Julie Taymor: From Jacques Lecoq to
The Lion King, The Drama Review 43.3 (T163) ( fall 1999): 63.
8. Julie Taymor, Teatr Loh, Indonesia, 19778, The Drama Review 23.2 (T82) (1979): 68,
9. Marx, Wages, Price and Profit, (cited above NB #4) 43133.
10. Mel Gussow, The Theater Imagery of Julie Taymor, New York Times, 25 November
11. Editorial, TasteReview and Outlook: Genius and Disney, Wall Street Journal, 12 June
1998, 1.
12. Sony Global, Time capsule, at
tory/capsule/index.html. accessed 17 March 2008, updated 1 July 2008.
13. P. Gelb and P. Jaffe, producers, Oedipus Rex (Matsumoto, Japan: Cami Video and NHK,
1992), DVD.
14. Richard Burt, ed. Shakespeare after Mass Media (New York: Palgrave, 2002),295324.
15. Schechner, Julie Taymor: From Jacques Lecoq to The Lion King, 3841.
16. Herbert Blau, The Eye of Prey: Subversions of the Postmodern (Bloomington, IN: Indiana
University Press, 1987), 166.
17. Edward Rothstein, Review/Film: Two Oedipuses, One Clad in Guilt, the Other in
Clay, New York Times, 31 March 1993.
18. Blau, The Eye of Prey, 16669.

19. Julie Taymor, dir. Titus, Clear Blue Sky Productions/Twentieth Century Fox, 1999, DVD
20. Julie Taymor, Mayhem, Madness, Method: An Interview with Julie Taymor, interview
by Maria de Luca and Mary Lindroth, Cineaste, 25 June 2000, 2831. See also Blumenthal,
Julie Taymor Playing with Fire, 238.
21. Sean Abbot, Julie Taymors Vision Quest, American Theatre 13.4 (April 1996): 3031.
22. Richard Burt, Shakespeare and the Holocaust, in Burt, Shakespeare after MassMedia, 305.
23. Paul Allen, the Chairman of Vulcan, was a cofounder of Microsoft, and now owns over
forty companies in technology, media and content, including stakes in DreamWorks SKG
and partnerships with Disney, as well as franchises for the Seattle Seahawks and Portland
Trail Blazers, About Us, at http://www.clearblueskyfilms/com/TemplateAboutUs.
aspx?contentId=58. accessed 20 March 2007.
24. UMG is a worldwide network of companies in the recording and distribution of music,
resulting from the 1998 merger of Universal/Motown with Philips/Polydor, owners of
MCA/ Decca/Geffen.
25. Lion King is Road Royalty, Variety, 29 July 2007.
Sony Global, Corporate Fact Sheet, at, accessed 20
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March 2008. The Corporate fact sheet for Sony Global outlines their five divisions in Elec-
tronics, Game, Entertainment (such as motion pictures and music) and Financial Services
(such as insurance and banking sectors), and its main product groups further divided into
specialized corporations for audio, video, televisions, computers, semiconductors and
electrical components.
27. With current annual sales and operating revenues running at approximately $70 billion per
annum, the transnational operations of Sony Global are governed under the legal jurisdic-
tion of the Tokyo District Court of Japan, where Sony paid approx. $457 million in taxes
in 2007. International tax agreements and trade policies have been decided in response to
Sonys relationship with Japanese tax law. Financial records of Sony Global reveal intricate
adjustments to working capital and profits from capital in a range of tax jurisdictions across
the globe in the form of instruments for currency exchange, profit deferral, differentials
and transfers, cost accounting methods for hedging on fiscal taxes, and investment strategies
in futures on key trading currencies.
28. Sony Global, Corporate Fact Sheet, 3. Sony assets were valued at close to 10 trillion U.S.
dollars in 2007 on annual revenues valued at (124 yen to the U.S. dollar) around $67 bil-
lion dollars. In 1997, 67% of Sony Globals overseas sales were in U.S. dollars (Sony Global
1997, 33), although only 27% of sales were in the U.S. sector. Such sales of content were
outside of the 65% of Sony Globals total worldwide sales made from sales of electronics.
29. Profiles, Variety Online, at
Across+the+Universe.html?dataSet=1&query=Across+the+Universe, accessed 19 March
30. Across the Universe was number six in the nation, as reported in 882 engagements, bringing
in over a million a weekend, as of November 2007. By November 11, box office was
under a million dollars/week (Variety Online).
31., News Headline at 2007 PR Newswire, Reed Business Information, 2008, at, accessed 20 March
2008. Oddly, the music recording for Across the Universe was made in analog tape with
vintage microphones for artistic purposes, then distributed in a re-mastered digital format.
32. Blau, The Eye of Prey, 1987 (opus cited NB#16 above), 169.
33. Chew Wan Ying, Across the Universe with the Beatles, Malay Mail, 23 November 2007
(Kuala Lumpur: New Straits Times Press, 2007), 19.
34. Julia Kristeva, Revolution in Poetic Language, in The Portable Kristeva Reader, ed. Kelly
Oliver (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002), 28.
35. Julie Taymor, interview by Sylviane Gold, The Possession of Julie Taymor, American
Theatre 15.7 (September 1998): 5.
36. Wan Ying, Across the Universe with the Beatles.
37. In private conversation with Ashlan Phoenix Gray, Vancouver, BC, 15 March 2007.
Julie Taymor, Sonys Digital Dream Kids, and the Marxist Labor Theory of Value 17

38. Rick Lyman, Director of The Lion King says, Im doing what I do, New York Times,
14 October 1997, 1. Taymor is quoted as saying: I want the people to be aware of both
the puppet and the actor, she said. I dont want to upstage the puppet, but I also want
people to see the actor, too. That way they can watch it on different levels. They can focus
on the puppet or they can focus on the actor or they can focus on the way both of them
are working together.
39. Gold, The Possession of Julie Taymor, 3.
40. Edward Rothstein, Ethnicity and Disney: Its a Whole New Myth, New York Times, 14
December 1997, 37. Rothstein detects Taymors identity politics when he writes,The
film The Lion King rejected the Disney myth more completely by focusing on a new
notion of ethnicity: its hero was not an outsider yearning to join the center or thriving
outside it but a disinherited heir who had to recapture his ethnic kingdom. The Lion King
is not about accommodation and influence but about ethnic identity.
41. Schechner, Julie Taymor: From Jacques Lecoq to The Lion King, 55.
42. In order to overcome the net operating loss before taxes for 1995, Sony had a write off of
$265 million from Goodwill. With consolidated gains in foreign exchange, fiscal tax defer-
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rals and good retained earnings from previous years, the companys balance sheet showed a
good reserve, and did not affect shareholder dividends for the year (Sony 1997, 42).