- The Washington Times - Friday, January 12, 2001

Frantic film

"Steven Soderbergh, the not untalented but show-offy writer-director, has come up with 'Traffic.' … It concerns rival Mexican drug cartels battling each other for supremacy in exporting their unholy wares to our pristine shores. Robert Wakefield, a worthy Ohio judge newly appointed U.S. drug czar, has a bit of a handicap in his 16-year-old daughter, Caroline, a druggie and mild orgiast, but really a good girl merely overreacting to paternal neglect in however noble a cause.

"The movie careens frantically among four or more stories… .

"All in all, two-and-a-half hours of nonstop action, made harder to follow by Soderbergh's fancy filmmaking. But what fun you can have afterward, trying to unravel what you saw."

John Simon, writing on "Sex, Drugs and Costner," in the Jan. 22 issue of National Review

Subsidizing corruption

"Foreign aid, argues President Bill Clinton, is 'designed to keep our soldiers out of war.' He threatened to veto this year's $12.7 billion foreign assistance appropriations bill after Congress reduced his request by $2 billion. But the evidence is overwhelming that increasing foreign aid would only throw good money after bad.

"The United States alone has contributed more than $1 trillion (in current dollars) in foreign assistance since World War II. Although some individual development projects have undoubtedly worked, there is no evidence that what we inaccurately call 'foreign assistance' has generated economic growth or promoted political stability in the developing world… .

"[A]n investigation by the Office of the High Representative in Bosnia … concluded that as much as $1 billion of that artificial nation's public money had been stolen since 1995 even as the West was providing $5.1 billion in aid… .

"It is bad enough to force Western taxpayers to subsidize local corruption. It is criminally irresponsible to make them underwrite a system that actively impedes economic development and growth."

Doug Bandow, writing on "New Excuses for Old Failures," in the January issue of Ideas on Liberty

Pornographic rock

"This is one video you can safely bet will never appear on either MTV or VH-1. 'Backstage Sluts,' directed by veteran pornography director Matt Zane, features rock stars such as Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit, Jonathan Davis of Korn, [and groups] Sugar Ray and Insane Clown Posse. In the video, Durst and company tell stories that emphasize the 'sex' in 'sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll' which Zane then re-enacts, in graphic detail, for the audience.

"Zane's 'film' is hardly the only example of the convergence between mainstream entertainment and the world of pornography. A recent record, entitled 'Deep Porn,' illustrates the increasingly close relationship between the pornography industry and rock music. On this album, Kid Rock does a song … that features the porn actress Midori who used to be his girlfriend moaning to the accompaniment of guitars and percussion instruments.

"Kid Rock's 'contribution' … is in keeping with his performance at this year's [Grammy awards]… . [T]he Detroit native performed surrounded by porno stars dancing in cages. If anyone objected to the objectification of women in front of a nationally televised audience, I missed it. (Where were the folks from Lilith Fair when we needed them? Has the era of the female star come and gone already?) …

"Not only are rock stars trying to incorporate the pornography ethos into their acts, porn actresses are trying to use the connection to cross over into legitimate fields."

Roberto Rivera, writing on "Mainstreaming Porn," in Boundless at www.boundless.org

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