- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 31, 2000

Unpunished immorality

"In the past few years, we've seen anti-heroes as heroes who earn our respect and even admiration… .

"Whether it's 'The Basketball Diaries,' 'True Romance' or 'Taxi Driver,' presenting immorality and lawlessness without punishment, particularly after we are meant to identify with the protagonists, is a dangerous form of art, the uglier side of not dumbing down all storytelling to the lowest common denominator.

"We return to the image of the teen-ager with the poster of a mohawked Travis Bickle over his bed… . If we tell our stories, worried about how they will play in Peoria, we aren't telling the truth we're writing ad copy… .

"The unexpected, widespread success of ['Being John Malkovich'] seems to illustrate the mainstream acceptance of morally dubious protagonists… . Although the world still loves 'Star Wars' and a good James Bond romp, we don't need good and evil to wear white and black… . We like to watch ourselves up on that screen.

"It's where we've always belonged."

Grant Rosenberg, writing on "I Feel Your Pain: Identifying With the Immoral and Amoral in the Movies," in the May/June issue of Gadfly

Hedonistic culture

"[T]he United States suffers from what Daniel Bell once described as the cultural contradiction of capitalism … the notion that wealth may produce hedonism and ennui, which in turn undermines the ability to produce further wealth. The United States has certainly indulged in a degradation and coarsening of its culture and that at some point may have an effect… .

"In 1953, the great social thinker Pitirim Sorokin argued that advanced sensate societies such as ours encounter difficulties in producing wealth. I wonder what Sorokin would think of today's America? The nation produces extraordinary wealth and is an even more advanced post-advanced, if you will sensate society… .

"[T]he United States is engaged in a relentless search for orthodoxy because its spiritual condition is so poor… . Americans … have turned to cults and perverse religions for answers that don't interfere with their pursuit of pleasure… .

"The natural consequence of postmodernism, relativism, is the belief that anything can and will be true. Thus one can believe anything… . Michael Fumento pointed out a survey indicating that there are more people today who believe in astrology than in logic."

Herbert I. London, writing on "The Enemy Within," in the spring issue of American Outlook

The Great Hater

"[Atlanta Braves pitcher] John Rocker has profusely apologized. In fact … he has more than apologized; he has, as his inquisitors wanted, groveled, and shown, in ways reminiscent of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, that he has been re-educated. But no matter: He remains the butt of media jokes and continues to be treated as America's Great Hater.

"How to explain the anomaly of such intense hatred directed at a baseball player who made intemperate comments to a reporter and who has been punished … and apologized? Especially when other athletes have done so much worse?

"The answer tells us a lot about contemporary liberalism, and especially about the liberal media.

"Most obviously, liberals who devote great energy to 'combatting hate' need to look inward… .

"There is such a thing as a politics of personal destruction in America. John Rocker has been its perfect victim. The wild overreaction, the hysteria, the media incitement to hatred over trivia uttered by a trivial personality is an astonishing spectacle."

Dennis Prager, writing on "Hating John Rocker," in the June 5 issue of the Weekly Standard

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