- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Vin or lose

“So far it’s been a scholarly summer. ‘X2’ unfolded like an encyclopedia of geek powers, and ‘The Matrix Reloaded’ lectured us on free will, but with the arrival of ‘2 Fast 2 Furious’ it’s safe to say that the party has started. The booming bass line begins before the opening credits … and the cars are revving and racing through the streets before anyone has a chance to say: Where’s Vin Diesel?

“Mr. Diesel emerged as the star of the original film, ‘The Fast and the Furious.’ … He declined to return for a second spin at the wheel. … His leader-of-the-pack charisma is what held together the first movie, which, despite its blunt edges, deserves credit for presenting a few bona fide elements of Los Angeles street-racing culture. … This time around the action has been moved to Miami, stripped of any semblance of authenticity, and turned into another exercise in cool.”

Michael Agger, writing on “Drive, Dammit, Drive!” Thursday in Slate at www.slate.com

Media message

“Pass any magazine rack and sexy images are on prominent display, not just in the popular magazines for adults, but also in those geared for the teen market. Watch any television show targeting teens and the sexual images are even more blatant and pervasive. The end result is that 20 percent of teens have sex before reaching age 15 and while teen sexual activity has declined, an astounding 48 percent have engaged in sexual intercourse.

“This is a remarkable failure for a nation that spends $219 million per year on comprehensive sex-education programs. …

“The good news is that, more and more, solid information about the risks involved with early sex activity is competing with the sexy images that bombard teens on every front. …

“Abstinence promotes the health and well-being of teens and is their best lifestyle choice until marriage. … We endanger their health and well-being when we perpetuate the myths that ‘their hormones are uncontrollable; they are going to do it anyway’ and ‘condoms provide protection so promiscuity won’t be harmful, let them live it up while they are young.’”

Janice Shaw Crouse, writing on “Teen Sex: Fueled by Media Images or Curbed through Good Information?” Friday in Dot.Commentary from the Beverly LaHaye Institute

Wild for weddings

“Michael Douglas replaces Peter Falk and Albert Brooks takes over for Alan Arkin in ‘The In-Laws,’ a loose remake of the 1979 semi-classic comedy. …

“Surprisingly, you can watch the two films back to back without getting bored because the renditions share almost nothing besides their general set-up. Arkin/Brooks is a medical professional whose daughter is marrying the son of Falk/Douglas, who is either a top American secret agent or a con man or both. The extroverted spy lures the staid doctor into a crazed espionage adventure that threatens the big wedding.

“It’s really more of a spy spoof, but it’s being advertised as a bridal flick because Americans love comedies with ‘wedding’ in the title. Our culture has become so casual that nuptials provide one of the few remaining formal occasions that can make indignities and embarrassments so much funnier. …

“Other differences between the 1979 and 2003 films illustrate changes in American culture. For example, the spy now has a beautiful young sidekick so we can watch her beat up the other characters. Back in 1979, few imagined that scenes of pretty girls hurting people would ever appeal to more than a limited … audience, but they now seem to be an indispensable part of summer multiplex movies.”

Steve Sailer, writing on “Married to the CIA,” in the June 16 issue of the American Conservative

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