- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 15, 2001

Movie 'reality
"There is a remarkable line in the movie 'E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial that demonstrates how reality breaks down within the medium of film. The hero, a boy named Elliott, discovers an alien life form in his shed. Toward the end of the movie, he and a few of his brothers friends try to help E.T. rendezvous with his landing party so he can return home. At one point a boy named Greg says, 'Well, cant he just beam up? To this, Elliott gives the snide reply, 'This is reality, Greg.
"The reference to 'beam up plays on a well-known means of transportation in the 'Star Trek television series and movies. Everyone in the 'E.T. world knows exactly what Greg means. The question is perfectly rational given the context of the movie and the nature of sci-fi films. …
"Elliotts reference to reality suddenly throws him into the audience as one who knows the difference between 'Star Trek fiction and real-life nonfiction. In doing so, it makes the viewers lose their sense of boundaries; where does the movie leave off and reality begin? …
"The myths that supported the 'E.T. plot were borrowed from other movies, yet they were myths so prevalent within culture that moviegoers bought the plot enough to shed tears over the dying puppet."
— Chuck Smith Jr., from his new book, "The End of the World As We Know It"


Fanning the flames
"The battle over the nomination of former Missouri Sen. John Ashcroft to be attorney general ranked among the nastiest political fights in recent memory. … People for the American Way unveiled a dedicated nationwide advertising campaign to warn senators about the consequences of voting to confirm their former colleague. More interesting for private philanthropy is the fact that some of the wealthiest and most prominent private foundations in the country underwrote the entrenched interests that were gunning for Ashcroft. …
"For example, during the Ashcroft campaign, the People for the American Way Foundations Web site, 'Right Wing Watch Online — funded by money from private foundations — declared that George W. Bushs campaign promise to be 'a uniter, not a divider was being 'drowned out by his decision to nominate an ultra-conservative and favorite son of the Religious Right to the position of attorney general. …
"What do the foundations that fund PFAW think about the possibility that their money may have been used either on anti-Ashcroft activities or to free up other monies to oppose the former Missouri senator? Most want to avoid the question entirely. 'I have no idea, says a spokesman for the Packard Foundation. … 'I dont know if it relates to that at all. I cant comment on that."
— Evan Gahr, writing on "Ashcroft and Advocacy," in the March/April issue of Philanthropy


Bugs Bunny, bigot?
"The cable-TV Cartoon Network had a great idea: a retrospective featuring every Bugs Bunny cartoon ever made. Then they started looking at some of the older episodes and the carrots hit the Cuisinart. In one, Bugs parodies a black-faced Al Jolson; in another, he refers to a buck-toothed Eskimo as 'big baboon. Whats up, doc? The dander of Americas numerous and powerful 'victim groups, thats what, if this kind of thing were to be aired in public. Scrambling for cover, the network devised a plan to show the offending episodes late at night, with prominent disclaimers noting that these stereotypes were representative of their time. However, Warner Brothers, which owns the jaunty rabbit, did not have that much faith in the ability of American adults to act like, well, adults. The retrospective will go ahead, but it will no longer be complete. There are some things just too shocking, too outrageous for modern sensibilities — among them, apparently, the antics of a cartoon rabbit."
— from "The Week," in the May 28 issue of National Review


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