- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 2, 2001

Hollywood mirror
"'Mulholland Drive' is a movie about movies, in more ways than one. This time Oz is Tinseltown. Small-town America has been replaced by Hollywood, a milieu [director David] Lynch (whatever his Missoula upbringing) now understands much more concretely than Middle America, and is much less apt to patronize.
"He knows the exercise of arbitrary power by studio heads. … He knows the way pretty young women are passed around by old men, chewed up and spat out, their spirits broken. He knows the insecure dignity and self-absorption of the bit players, and can satirize them with refreshing economy. He knows, too, the way Los Angeles can come to feel like a company town, provincial in its interconnectedness. …
"Thus, the insularity of the Southern California film community becomes an apt analogue for that larger conspiracy Lynch is always hinting at: everyone is in on It, everyone is related, and they are all in the business of manufacturing dreck. That's show biz."
Philip Lopate, writing on "Welcome to L.A." in the September-October issue of Film Comment

Undervalued virgins
"Americans who want to understand why the national divorce rate has soared since mid-century may find some clues in a study … on the 'cultural evolution' in American attitudes about the ideal marriage partner. …
"Between 1939 and 1996, 'both sexes increased the importance they attach to physical attractiveness in a mate.' While men ranked physical attractiveness only 14th out of 18 desirable characteristics in 1939, they ranked it eighth on the same list in 1996. Among women, physical attractiveness jumped in the ranking of desirable mate characteristics from 17th on a list of 18 in 1939 to 13th in 1996. …
"During the same period … 'there appeared to be a general decrease in the valuation of refinement, neatness and chastity, for both men and women.' The authors of the study comment particularly on the declining value placed on chastity, calling this 'one of the most striking cultural changes' uncovered. … Chastity ranked 10th for men in 1939, but only 16th in 1996. While chastity ranked 10th in women's hierarchy of mate characteristics in 1939, it had fallen to 17th in 1996. 'Clearly, the cultural value attached to virginity has declined over the past 57 years,' remarked the researchers. …
"When young people care more about how a prospective partner looks than about how that person acts, they are setting themselves up for heartbreak."
from "The Perfect Mate" in the August issue of "The Family in America"

Home to roost?
"President Bush, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Sen. Ted Kennedy and countless pundits have bent over backward to make sure that Americans know that all Arabs are not to blame, and to explain that Islam and Islamic fundamentalism are not the same thing. … I wonder, when I hear these words of ecumenical brotherhood, whether Islam and Muslims are not getting a bit of a pass on this one.
"When I read Muslims posting messages of joy on Internet newsgroups, declaring, Malcolm X style, that the chickens have come home to roost, I wonder where these people come from. Are they the people I pray with at the mosque? … I certainly cannot look to the national leadership of the Islamic community in America for guidance. The American Muslim Council tells us to be careful, to be on the lookout for suspicious and anti-Muslim behavior. … The Council on American Islamic Relations even sent out an e-mail with a handy form for reporting hate crimes against Muslims. …
"I wonder if these groups are oblivious to the fact that it is Muslims, with names like Mohammed and Abdullah and, yes, Tarek, who have committed the greatest hate crime in American history?"
Tarek E. Masoud, writing on "American Muslims are Americans. Let's ActLike It" in the Sept. 14 Wall Street Journal

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