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Culture Briefs

- - Sunday, August 22, 2010

Boyish heroes

"The musclemen of the 1980s may have been an exaggeration of an earlier masculine ideal, but prior decades were hardly lacking in virility. Broad-shouldered, chiseled icons like John Wayne, Gregory Peck, Sean Connery, Burt Lancaster and so forth might not have been built like Schwarzenegger or Stallone, but they were no pantywaists. Not all male heroes of yesterday necessarily fit that brawny mold — there was also room for more sensitive types played by the likes of Jimmy Stewart or Henry Fonda — but there was plenty of brawn to go around.

"The situation today is markedly different. Many action movies today star youthful-looking actors like Matt Damon, Orlando Bloom, Brendan Frasier and Leonardo DiCaprio. Even comparatively older stars like Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt still come off as aging boys rather than manly men. There's Tobey Maguire's gawky web-slinger and Robert Downey Jr.'s immature playboy techno-warrior. (Notably, Damon, Maguire and Downey all play heroes who in one way or another find themselves with awesome powers that they must learn to use and/or don't understand at first.) William Shatner's signature role now belongs to boyish Chris Pine. Earlier this summer there was a sequel to the Schwarzenegger vehicle Predator starring Adrien Brody, of all people.

"With few exceptions — Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman — it's hard to think of a leading man today who could credibly go toe to toe with Rocky or Indiana Jones."

Steve Greydanus, writing on "Where Have You Gone, Gregory Peck?" on Aug. 20 at his National Catholic Register blog

Friends movie

"Jennifer Aniston is in hot water for using a politically incorrect term on 'Live with Regis & Kelly' Thursday morning.

"While promoting her flick 'The Switch,' Aniston discussed her recent Barbra Streisand-inspired photo shoot for 'Harper's Bazaar' on the show. 'Yeah, I got to play dress up,' Jen said to Regis, 'I do it for a living, like a retard!'

"Now, disability advocates are bashing the actress for her word choice. A rep for the Special Olympics tells 'Us Weekly,' 'People with intellectual disabilities have fought their whole lives for understanding and recognition. When people continue to use the R word, it's hurtful.'

"The comments come on the heels of criticism after Aniston said women don't have to settle for a man to start a family. Conservative family advocates accused her of downplaying the importance of the role of a father in a child's life."

From "Jen Aniston sparks outrage after referring to herself as a 'retard,'" on Aug. 20 at the Fox News entertainment blog 411

Friending movie

"Heard about that little website founded in a Harvard dorm room that soon made status updates, friend requests, and stamping 'Like' on comments a daily part of modern life? 'The Accidental Billionaires,' Ben Mezrich's controversial book about the founding of Facebook, has been adapted into an already controversial movie, out this fall: 'The Social Network,' written by Aaron Sorkin, directed by David Fincher and starring Jesse Eisenberg as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

"Now, a new report exposes the back-channel diplomacy between Facebook and producers of 'The Social Network,' and the desire of execs at the hugely popular website to ignore the movie when it opens Oct. 1. But can they?

"With no apologies, [producer Scott] Rudin says Zuckerberg is 'simultaneously a builder and a destroyer.' He adds, 'It's a big subject. It's a big American subject.' (Zuckerberg doesn't seem to think it is. He told ABC's Diane Sawyer in July, 'The real story is actually probably pretty boring. … We just sat at our computers for six years and coded.')

From "Facebook Execs and 'Social Network': Not Friends," on Aug. 22 at PopEater