- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 25, 2003

New bombshell

“From the ruins of Old Europe has emerged a new Edward Gibbon: Brigitte Bardot. In her book ‘A Scream in the Silence,’ the aging sex kitten turns her attention to the decline and fall of Western civilization, with particular concern for her native land. …

“Bardot is appalled at the ‘impurities’ of modern life and the ‘worsening decadence of society.’ …

“Or consider also the dismaying drop in the quality of French hookers: ‘Our lovely, kind streetwalkers have been replaced by girls from the East, Nigerians, travelers, transsexuals, drag queens, bearers of AIDS, and other friendly gifts. … Having a risk-free go is becoming a real exploit.’

“Who will call a halt to the barbarism and decadence? Bardot’s treatise is timely. When Old Europe’s atmosphere of decadence is choking even her, the need for reform is now.”

George Neumayr, writing on “Listening to Brigitte Bardot,” in the June/July issue of the American Spectator

Paved with blood

“Starting in 1959, a small Ohio production company began producing a series of films that continue to enjoy a reputation (if ‘enjoy’ is the proper word) as some of the goriest, most psychological-scar-inducing motion pictures ever made in the United States. Many of them had no plot whatsoever, instead consisting of one graphic, blood-soaked image after another — hideous corpses, crushed and mutilated bodies, people screaming helplessly in nightmarish agony. These films were not marketed to the gore-movie enthusiasts who haunted the grind houses of Times Square and other seedy urban districts of the period. Rather, they had titles like ‘Wheels of Tragedy’ and ‘Highways of Agony,’ and were widely distributed throughout the American high school system by a company called the Highway Safety Foundation.

“‘Any high school graduate from the mid-‘60s to the late ‘70s probably would have seen them or heard of them,” says filmmaker Bret Wood. His new documentary about the history of highway safety films, ‘Hell’s Highway,’ opens this week in New York and Wichita, Kan. …

“‘When I was told about these films, I just assumed that people had misunderstood them. I didn’t think they could actually have shown dead bodies. To me, that was just unthinkable. …

“‘You really get a sense of human loss and death that you don’t get when you see a body blown up in a Hollywood movie. You can’t relegate it to the world of make-believe.’…”

Paul Matwychuk, writing on “Blood and asphalt,” Tuesday in Slate at www.slate.com

French heroes

“American rock star Iggy Pop is known as ‘The Rock Iguana’ and ‘Grandfather of Punk.’ But … to the French the 56-year-old is Officer of Arts and Letters. Officer Iggy was decorated over the weekend by the French Ministry of Culture, which formerly decorated such cultural notables as rocker Lou Reed, who wrote a hymn to ‘Heroin,’ Sylvester Stallone and Jackie Chan. As for Jerry Lewis, he outranks all of the above, of course, having been named a Commander of Arts and Letters by Socialist Culture Minister Jack Lang back in 1984.

“Time was when Mr. Lang enjoyed pinning decorations on celebs who seemed trendy in France if amazingly low-rent in America, but there is no sign that the current French culture minister, Jean-Jacques Aillagon, is a groupie of Iggy, whose greatest-hits album on Virgin is aptly titled ‘Nude & Rude: The Best of Iggy Pop.’ Among the Officer’s best-remembered tunes are ‘Nazi Girlfriend’ and the 1970s punk anthem ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog.’ …

“Iggy Pop is notorious for his onstage antics, in which nudity and occasional self-mutilation with razor blades have played a major role, all of which apparently play well in France.”

Benjamin Ivry, writing on “Region of Fawners,” Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal

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