- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 31, 2005

Star voices

“I’ve never paid much attention to voice-overs. Then a few weeks ago, while watching a Duracell commercial, I had an epiphany: That voice in the background, prattling on about battery life, belonged to Jeff Bridges. … Only a handful of pop-culture kooks like me will notice that the man talking is not just some random announcer guy. Why would Duracell pay big bucks for the voice of a Hollywood star? …

“There’s no stigma attached to doing voice work anymore. It’s low-stress (no make-up or hairstyling), and with the residuals it can be amazingly lucrative. So, stars are popping up all over the place: Richard Dreyfuss for Honda. Julia Roberts for AOL. Gene Hackman for Oppenheimer Funds and Lowe’s.”

Seth Stevenson, writing on “The Voice-Over Gets a Makeover,” March 28 in Slate at www.slate.com

Health sins

“The more uncertainty we face, the more difficult we find it to make statements of moral purpose, the more ambiguous we feel about what is right and wrong, then the more comfortable we feel using the language of health to make sense of our lives. At a time of moral and existential uncertainty, health has become an important idiom through which to provide guidance to individuals.

“This is now so prevalent that we no longer even notice when we are doing it. For example, we no longer tell teenagers that pre-marital sex is good or bad or sinful. Instead we say that pre-marital sex is a health risk. …

“There are few clear moral guidelines that can direct our behavior today; but we have become very good at using health to regulate people’s lives in an intrusive and systematic fashion.

“Even medicine and food have acquired moral connotations. So some drugs are said to be bad for the environment, while others, especially those made with a natural herb, are seen as being morally superior. Organic food is seen as “good,’ not only in nutritional terms, but in moral terms. Junk food, on the other hand, is seen as evil.

“If you look at the language that is used to discuss health and medicine, or obese people and their body shapes, it isn’t just about health: we are making moral statements. A fat person is considered to have a serious moral problem, rather than simply a health one. As we become morally illiterate, we turn to health to save us from circumstances where we face a degree of moral or spiritual disorientation.”

Frank Furedi, writing on “Our unhealthy obsession with sickness,” March 23 in Spiked Online at www.spiked-online.com

Whose freedom?

“Some 200 faculty members of the University of Colorado signed a full-page newspaper ad in defense of their colleague Ward Churchill, the ethnic studies professor who argues that the 9/11 victims got what they deserved. …

“Strangely, none of these advocates of free speech and academic freedom have taken out an ad in support of another of their University of Colorado colleagues, history teacher Phil Mitchell. He was informed that his contract would not be renewed, despite 20 years of teaching there and his 1998 winning of the SOAR teaching award, chosen by students as the best teacher on campus.

“What was Mr. Mitchell’s fireable offense? In a class discussion, he quoted the words of Thomas Sowell and other black critics of affirmative action. That is not allowed at the University of Colorado. …

“Mr. Mitchell has an earned doctorate, unlike Mr. Churchill. He has not been charged with scholarly plagiarism, as Mr. Churchill had.”

Gene Edward Veith, writing on “Free radicals,” in the April 2 issue of World

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