- The Washington Times - Friday, February 4, 2000

Oscar rules

"The Oscars, always Xanax time in Hollywood, are causing even bigger panic attacks this year, when no one film is thought to have a lock on an Academy Award. With such a wide-open field … the next eight weeks get even tetchier… .
"The acting nominations always follow a few basic rules. If you're playing a member of a group shamelessly exploited by Hollywood i.e., the handicapped, kids, ingenues, a racial or ethnic minority that's a plus. So is being English or Irish, or being an American who talks as if you're English or Irish. More popular than ever are boys playing girls, or girls playing boys… .
"In the Best Actor category, forget that the NAACP is breathing down the necks of the networks and that there's always the possibility that Jesse Jackson will picket the Oscars. Denzel Washington would still be in front of this crowded field for a performance as chiseled as his abs in 'Hurricane.' …
"For Best Actress, it's come down to a two-country contest: the Americans Hillary Swank for 'Boys Don't Cry' and Annette Bening for 'American Beauty' versus the Brits Janet McTeer for 'Tumbleweeds' and Emily Watson for 'Angela's Ashes.' Swank currently has the edge, although Bening was the favorite until she stupidly opened her mouth about Hillary Clinton in this slavishly Democratic town."
Nikki Finke, writing on "American Duty," in the Feb. 7 issue of New York

Biblical mission

"David Spence was a young missionary who came to Nicaragua in 1980, despite the dangers of civil war and persecution… .
"[T]he Sandinista government was trying to control what was preached from Nicaragua's pulpits.
"At that time, the communists were promoting 'liberation theology' a blend of Marxism and Christ's teaching about liberating the poor. Weekly 'sermon sheets' were given by the Marxist government to priests and pastors, and all clergy were expected to preach about class warfare. Because genuine biblical preaching was so scarce, people gathered in droves when the Bible was preached."
Joan Wilson Carter, writing on "Faith Defeats Communism," in the January issue of Charisma

Depressing singles

"As they watched their parents' marriages dissolve, the middle-class young people of the 1970s decided that they wanted to stay a healthy distance from this terrifying institution… .
"It's telling that movies [of the 1970s] that wanted to represent single life as carefree tended to be set in the past, like George Lucas' 'American Graffiti.' Movies set in the present-day depicted single life as depressing and dangerous, like 1977's 'Looking for Mr. Goodbar,' the story of a young teacher compulsively drawn to singles bars who is murdered by one of her pickups, or 'Saturday Night Fever,' a dark picture of sexual exploitation in Italian Brooklyn… .
"By 1979, more than 1 million U.S. households were made up of an unmarried man and woman… . 'I really don't feel I have to go to somebody and hear them say, now, you're really married,' a 17-year-old girl confided in a survey of adolescent sexuality conducted by the Episcopal Church. 'I feel that I'm living with somebody and … if I tell the person I'm living with that I'm married to you like spiritually and he tells me the same thing, then we're automatically married as far as I'm concerned… . And I think that's more lasting than a piece of paper.' "
"Alas for her, cohabitation proved even less lasting than the piece of paper. And when it failed, it left behind feelings of disappointment and betrayal every bit as acute as those inflicted by divorce."
David Frum, from his new book, "How We Got Here: The 70's, The Decade That Brought You Modern Life For Better or Worse"

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