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Culture Briefs

- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 3, 2010

Paparazzi rape

"Mainstream media and online jackals reacted adversely yesterday to Kristen Stewart's comment, included in an interview with British Elle's Claire Matthiae, that being hunted down, surrounded and flash-bulbed by paparazzi is a little like being raped.

"In the print version of his story, N.Y. Daily News writer Anthony Benigno quoted an online ranter who called Stewart's remarks 'ignorant and insensitive,' and added that she should 'apologize to rape victims.'

"Why should Stewart apologize? Paparazzi are hit-and-run rapists of a sort, and being obliged to surrender little slivers of your soul as your picture is taken hundreds or thousands of times by a pack of shouting wolves is a kind of personal mauling that isn't far from my understanding of 'rape' - to be invaded and occupied and suffer a kind of brutal violation or wounding or theft, be it physical or emotional."

- Jeffrey Wells, writing on "Stewart Agonistes," on June 2 at Hollywood Elsewhere

Overrated

"If [Tina] Fey is being honored for creating humor from her uniquely American experience, then the best that I can tell it is because of her imitation of Sarah Palin. Not that I object to her impersonation because Palin certainly doesn't. Of course, Palin was such a good sport about it that she went on SNL to meet her mimic. In 'Going Rogue,' Palin recounts dressing up as Fey during one Halloween. Palin writes, 'I was Tina Fey before she was me.'

"But let's not kid ourselves. When Fey receives the prize in November, a week removed from the midterm elections, the ceremony will turn into little more than yet another opportunity for the so-called sophisticates from D.C., New York and Hollywood to pillory Palin. If not for the former Alaska Governor, would Fey have been honored this year? In which case, it would merely confirm that Fey is being honored for all the wrong reasons.

"Now some might argue that I am merely objecting to Fey's liberal politics. That is hardly the case. Robin Williams is as liberal as they come. Over the years, he has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Democratic Party. But whatever his politics it would be foolhardy to deny his comedic genius. If Williams's contributions to American humor aren't unique, it would be impossible to imagine someone fitting of the word. The Kennedy Center, however, has yet to honor Williams. Can anyone honestly tell me that Tina Fey is more deserving of the Mark Twain Prize than Robin Williams?"

-Aaron Goldstein, writing on "Tina Fey Isn't Funny," on June 2 at the American Spectator

New generation

"It's the 32nd anniversary of 'Grease'! I know you're excited! To celebrate, the movie will re-open in 'select cities' in a new sing-along version. The Guardian's Stuart Heritage ... goes on to point out numerous other changes that have been made to the film: John Travolta's cigarette has been digitally erased (as has Olivia Newton-John's at the end), lyrics now read 'the chicks'll scream' rather than 'cream.' There's almost certainly more where that came from. ...

"You'll note that these aren't the old, follow-the-bouncing-ball song lyrics of yore; they're blue and pink, popping and weaving, sometimes scratched into the background, upstaging the yeomen-esque visuals easily. In a smart, cynical bit of advertising, the titles inform us that this is "the original High School Musical." And indeed, the whole point of this project - from Travolta's cleaner bill of health to the de-sexualized lyrics - seems to be to update a durable brand name for a new generation, giving them a hyperactively pastelized version of a movie that wasn't all that special to begin with. The '50s are the '70s are the teens."

- Vadim Rizov, writing on "Making 'Grease' into the latest tween sensation, minus the smoking," on June 3 at the IFC blog Indie Eye

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