Monday, November 19, 2001

Holding her own
“It’s funny. [T]here’s this element that is difficult for people to understand about being as big a star as you are. It’s hard for a leading man at times to hold his own against you, you know what I mean? As an actor, I think there are a lot of wonderful actors out there. But you sort of you’re so you’re Julia Roberts, you know?
“It’s a funny thing, but there aren’t really big female stars anymore. There were in the ‘40s. Today, there are lots of actresses. But you you’re bigger than the male stars. And that hasn’t been around for a while. It’s been a male-driven industry for a long time. We always talk about how there aren’t real movie stars anymore, how they don’t really exist anymore, how there aren’t any Paul Newmans anymore. There are a couple now. There’s you and Tom [Hanks] and a few others who are really just bigger than life.”
George Clooney, interviewing Julia Roberts, in the December issue of Esquire

Media aristocrats
“As its status increases, the media takes on many of the characteristics of traditional elites. Like the nobility of old, it is concentrated in a few hands, and its responsibilities are minute in proportion to its power. It respects no superiors. Its stance toward proper authority, Congress, is as cavalier as its attitude toward the rights of individuals and their privacy. It does not accept restrictions and tends to see itself as above the law. Governments quail before the media, for when the media joins together in opposition, presidents are doomed (LBJ, Nixon, even Carter). George W. [Bush] has the right perspective toward the new elite. He ignores it. The media, needless to say, is convinced that it speaks in the name of the people, most of the time without going through the formality of ascertaining what the people think.
“On issue after issue journalists set the agenda. Their prejudices, their arrogant, insolent views of the world determine the news coverage and therefore determine what people see and hear of the world. To the media elite, Americans are a hopelessly retrograde lot. They are racist, sexist, homophobic, have no understanding or appreciation of art. They also hold unenlightened views on religion, morality and the nation.”
Taki, writing on “The Media Elite,” in the Nov. 14 issue of the New York Press

Punk history
“In the beginning, punk rock was meant to change the world. The songs were nasty, brutish and short, but the ambitions were extravagant. While the Sex Pistols attempted to foment nihilism in the UK, the Clash hoped that youth culture might become a kind of international socialist club. Even in America, the Ramones sought to take their mock-bubblegum to the masses. ‘We developed a small following of weirdos,’ Tommy Ramone boasted in 1976. ‘Then we got the intellectuals. Now the kids are coming.’
“Of course, it didn’t turn out that way. The Sex Pistols ended up bringing more anarchy on themselves than upon anyone else. As for the Ramones, their bid for fame never proceeded beyond the intellectuals, if it ever got that far. Punk rock failed to win mass approval. By 1980, major record companies disdained the music, preferring the slicker stylings of the new wave.
“As a result, American postpunk bands of the 1980s had chastened ambitions. Cut off from commercial radio, they assembled a creaky network of small-time record stores and clubs, mimeographed fanzines and independent record labels.
“By the middle of the decade, the indie rock ethos had taken shape. Then, in 1991, Nirvana released ‘Nevermind,’ a record that won over the indie cognoscenti but didn’t sound much like anything else on commercial radio at the time. Nirvana, it appeared, had made the world safe for punk rock.”
Alexander Star, writing on “Expressway to Yr Skull,” in the Nov. 19 issue of the Nation

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