Culture Briefs

Authentic sin

“ ’Knocked Up’ has taken a lot of heat from pro-choice activists and a few of their brethren in the media over the choice of its protagonist Allison … to have and raise a child conceived during what was supposed to be a one-night stand. …

“The movie is … raunchy, and yet, interestingly, there is one word too obscene to be uttered in this film about immature, foul-mouthed, bong-suckers: abortion. Slate movie critic Dana Steven writes that ‘[Director Judd] Apatow’s reticence on the subject seems to spring less from personal conviction than from the fear of offending his audience’s sensibilities. This kind of Trojan horse moralism is maddeningly common in pop-culture representations of abortion, which seem muzzled, invisibly policed, by either the pro-life lobby or the fear of it.’

“The thinking here is that the decision to endure a pregnancy is artificial and inauthentic since this is likely not what would happen in real life. In the world of serious cinema, it is a far graver sin to be inauthentic than immoral. And as long as you can make the case that an artistic choice is reflecting reality, it is not making a de facto moral statement.”

Mollie Ziegler, writing on “Everyone’s a moralist: But only some people realize it,” in the summer issue of Doublethink

Academic image

“The absent-minded professor, that kindly old figure, is long gone. A new image has taken his place. …

“Look at recent movies about academics, and a remarkably consistent pattern emerges. In ‘The Squid and the Whale’ (2005), Jeff Daniels plays an English professor and failed writer who sleeps with his students, neglects his wife and bullies his children. In ‘One True Thing’ (1998), William Hurt plays an English professor and failed writer who sleeps with his students, neglects his wife and bullies his children. In ‘Wonder Boys’ (2000), Michael Douglas plays an English professor and failed writer who sleeps with his students, has just been left by his third wife and can’t commit to the child he’s conceived in an adulterous affair with his chancellor.”

William Deresiewicz, writing on “Love on Campus,” in the summer issue of the American Scholar

Metal politics

“Megadeth’s latest offering ‘United Abominations’ [addresses] the transgressions of a certain international body situated on the East River. …

“In a mere 5 minutes and 37 seconds ‘United Abominations’ ’ title track encapsulates a litany of complaints against this ‘blot on the face of humanity,’ as [guitarist Dave] Mustaine sneeringly calls it, from its practical indifference to ethnic cleansing and state-sponsored terrorism to the ‘mire of hypocrisy, bribes, kickbacks and corruption’ it mucks around in. ‘The U.N. is where our so-called allies undermine us, and we pay 22 percent of the tab to host our enemies here at home,’ Mustaine intones during what is almost certainly the only song this year to name check Kofi Annan’s son Kojo (‘Held hostage by Oil-For-Food/Yet their own plates are full off the fat of their lands/There’s no blood on their hands, right Kojo?’). …

“On another track, ‘Amerikhastan,’ Mustaine envisions a dystopian future wherein a ‘legion of bankrupt souls with a lust for revenge’ brings civilization to its knees.”

Shawn Macomber, writing on “Longhairs Versus Blue Helmets,” Monday in the American Spectator Online at www.spectator.org

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