- The Washington Times - Friday, July 7, 2000

Job requirement

"When it comes to nudity, actresses are just like you and me self-conscious, vain, insecure, eager to please and sometimes miserable. Except that when they take their clothes off, they have to do it in front of the people they work with, knowing that they have little if any control over how the images of their naked bodies … will ultimately be presented in the context of the finished project… . And that owing to the miracle of video rental, the Internet and enormous media interest, these images will be preserved, if not forever, at least for long enough that whatever the actresses' original thoughts about getting naked were, they'll probably have second, third and fourth thoughts about it.

"On the other hand, being a hot body can be extremely lucrative, and even career-making. It is increasingly a job requisite, with, for example, actresses in their late teens and early 20s, like those in 'American Beauty,' appearing topless as a matter of course, a circumstance that would have caused at least a mild stir 20 years ago."

Mim Udovitch, writing on "The Pressure to Take It Off," in the June 25 issue of the New York Times Magazine

The lonely bowler

"By the early 1960s, more than 8 percent of American men and 5 percent of American women had joined bowling leagues. But the nation's interest in bowling leagues soon passed. Fewer than 3 percent of Americans went bowling in leagues by 1998. My aunt, now a widow who lives alone, is too old to bowl. Her son, who lives 2,000 miles away, bowls alone if he bowls at all.

"For Robert Putnam, a professor at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, the lonely bowler is emblematic of the serious collapse of community that has taken place over the last 30 years. Americans no longer spend as many evenings with their neighbors, less often join civic organizations like Kiwanis and the League of Women Voters, less frequently believe that other people are honest and trustworthy and more and more adopt a private stance toward their religious convictions …

"We learn that Americans spent about 80 minutes a day schmoozing with their friends in 1965 but only 57 minutes a day doing this in 1995. And we learn that Americans spent about twice as much time playing cards in the 1970s as they do now."

Robert Wuthnow, writing on "A Lonely Day in the Neighborhood," in the June 12 Christianity Today

'Right-wing hogwash'?

" 'The Patriot' is about the founding of our nation and some of it rubs politically correct elites so raw that they slapped an 'R' rating on it for portraying children defending themselves with guns.

"Many critics have tried to dismiss the epic as simplistic, tub-thumping patriotic drivel… . This is bizarre for a film that dwells on the human impact of war on family and loved ones.

"Still other critics correctly see 'Patriot' star Mel Gibson as the next John Wayne, a new embodiment of American individualism, and they don't like it one bit. " 'The Patriot' is right-wing hogwash bathed in an olde-timey golden glow," writes Arion Berger of the Washington City Paper. "Now the disgruntled, home-schooling, SUV-buying, pro-militia-but-cautious-suburban-family-values working man has a movie to call his own… .

"Now we know in part why so few Revolutionary War feature films have been made …. It's not just the strange costuming or a reluctance to make the Brits the bad guys.

"[The Founding Fathers were] folks that Hollywood would think of as 'right-wing Christian gun nuts,' " says film critic Michael Medved. "Indeed [producer] Mark Gordon … admits that the Motion Picture Association of America was upset by the scene of an 11-year-old firing a musket after British soldiers had killed one of his brothers. It led to the film's 'R' rating."

John H. Fund, writing on "War of words over 'The Patriot,' " Tuesday on MSNBC's Web site at www.msnbc.com

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