Culture Briefs

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Should Congress make English the official language of the U.S.?

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Higher anger

“I don’t think American life in general has been improved by this too-ready resort to histrionic anger, whether it comes from Glenn Beck or Cary Nelson. It abides on both the left and the right. Whether it abides more on one side than the other is a ticklish question. The left explodes in anger if you suggest it is the more rageful of the two. The right tends to laugh at the idea. But there is clearly enough anger-spiked tea to fill everyone’s cup.

“Higher education has no special immunity from the angri-culture. On the contrary, it is a privileged haunt for those who delight in scorn, derision, and wrathful dislike of mainstream American culture. We cite academic freedom as guaranteeing our right to be vitriolic.

“I don’t know of any simple remedy for that, but I do think it comes across to most Americans as hypocrisy. To claim academic freedom as a protection of ones own diatribes while crying ‘no fair’ when someone aims a diatribe back at you requires a clownish degree of self-regard. Unfortunately, what most Americans will take from [the academic attacks on Glenn Beck over Frances Fox Piven] is that higher education has an abundance of that particular quality.”

Peter Wood, writing on “The Beck-Piven Controversy” on Feb. 10 at the Chronicle Review

CNN gamble

“On Thursday, CNN announced that it is adding three new commentators to its political team, as it gears up for coverage of the 2012 elections. One of the three additions, Cornell Belcher, is from the ideological left. … The other two additions hail from the conservative side of the ideological spectrum. Will Cain, host of “Off the Page” at NationalReview.com, joins the political group at CNN. … Solidifying CNN’s rightward shift was the announcement that it is adding conservative talk-show host Dana Loesch to its political team. …

“The fascinating aspect of this announcement is that this is essentially an admission by the folks at CNN that the network does in fact lean to the left and that it needs to move to the right, by adding conservative talkers, in order to increase its ratings.

“However, there is the chance that the addition of two conservative talkers could backfire for CNN if both Loesch and Cain are more than just token conservatives on a panel discussing the issues. The brash take that they, certainly Loesch, will take on the issues, could upset the current left-leaning viewers who expect a certain and consistent ideological take on political and social issues.”

Chad Stafko, writing on “CNN’s conservative ‘Hail Mary’ pass,” on Feb. 13 at the American Thinker

Wrong TV model

“But the news that NBC has ordered a new pilot for an American version of ‘Prime Suspect’ starring Maria Bello gives me pause. …The U.S. broadcast TV model — with its 42-minutes-a-week, 22-weeks-a-year format, frequent commercial interruptions, and still-oppressive content restrictions — is the enemy of every fine quality that the original ‘Prime Suspect’ possessed. …

“Great British shows don’t always produce precisely the same number of episodes every single year, during roughly the same time span, then restart the production process and start cranking out more episodes immediately. There were, for example, only 12 episodes of the original ‘Fawlty Towers.’ The great Steve Coogan character Alan Partridge — a twittish talk-show host bumbling from fame to infamy — appeared in multiple TV and radio series and specials that appeared sporadically between 1991 and 2002. The English version of ‘The Office’ consisted of two series of six episodes broadcast between 2001-2003, followed by a couple of specials.”

Matt Zoller Seitz, writing on “The problem with American remakes of British shows,” on Feb. 9 at Salon

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