- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 7, 2004

Billy Bob vs. Bard

“I think Shakespeare’s overrated. … I’d never go and see a Shakespeare play. Who’d want to see me in Hamlet?

“Who cares? I don’t know why actors do it. Shakespeare is just a bunch of soap operas.

“It’s not that I don’t understand it. But people think if you speak with an English accent it somehow makes you smarter.

“I don’t believe in all the flowery language — all of his plays are just a series of soap operas.”

Billy Bob Thornton, interviewed Tuesday in the British tabloid the Sun

Space economics

“With its successful venture into outer space, SpaceShipOne has clinched the privately funded, $10 million ‘X Prize’ and has excited everyone from potential investors to serious scientists to ‘Star Trek’ geeks. … Beyond the obvious implications, the episode illustrates several lessons from political economy.

“First, the free market is perfectly capable of funding space exploration. …

“In the 1960s, the government spent billions of dollars sending a man to the moon. …

“Did NASA come up with a way to get a man on the moon that the private sector would have been unable to mimic?

“No, of course not. What President Kennedy (and Congress) did was simply loot the taxpayers of money that they would never voluntarily invest in a moon program, and then spent the stolen money on the grandiose project. …

“[T]he X Prize should give hope to sci-fi enthusiasts and libertarians alike. Several years ago, I predicted to my bemused brother that before I died, I would stand on the moon. If the government would just get out of the way, my prediction will easily come true.”

Bob Murphy, writing on “The Final Frontier,” Tuesday at www.lewrockwell.com

Cinema sociology

“‘Cutting social commentary’; ‘acutely hilarious sociology’; ‘a harbinger of hope … for future feminist comedies.’ These were some of the peculiar accolades bestowed upon the movie ‘Mean Girls’ when it opened in theaters. Why did critics accord it such stature? Doubtless because it was, in the words of one, the ‘best teen comedy ever adapted from a sociological study.’ In actuality, the source material — Rosalind Wiseman’s book ‘Queen Bees & Wannabes’ — is not a sociological study but a parenting guide, and ‘Mean Girls’ is in no meaningful way ‘adapted’ from it. … But the film’s claim that it is ‘based’ on ‘Queen Bees’ is only slightly less silly than pretending ‘American Pie’ is derived from ‘The Professional Pastry Chef.’ …

“As a marketing exercise, the cross-branding was a masterstroke: Wiseman’s book, a former New York Times bestseller, was able to pick up a whole new wave of paperback readers, and the film was able to present itself as not only entertaining, but important, a worthy addition to the burgeoning field of Girls Studies. … Which is too bad, because shorn of its pretensions ‘Mean Girls’ … is a quite enjoyable coming-of-age comedy. …

“If ‘Mean Girls’ sounds more like a conventional, even generic, teen comedy than a scathing social satire, that’s because it is.”

Chris Orr, writing on “Girls, Girls, Girls,” Tuesday in the New Republic Online at www.tnr.com

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