“Why was [the new movie ‘Black Hawk Down’] made? Apparently only because no one had yet made a film about the American military expedition to Somalia in 1993. ‘Black Hawk Down’ does little more than burrow through battle scenes in the streets of Mogadishu. These scenes are factual, I assume; but, grim though they are, they are very familiar by now, cinematically speaking.
“Most of the film is simply shooting and bombing and emergency medical aid. The picture ends up as nothing more than a trite collection of combat sequences suspended in limbo, scenes that, with a few minor changes in dialogue, could be used in other combat pictures set in foreign places.
“Which leads to the fact that, though military pictures have never been in short supply, we are going to have a martial plenty. Bruce Willis is coming in one, and Mel Gibson in another. This surge cannot be a response to September 11; films take more time to make. But war pictures have always been as plentiful as war itself.
Still, many of those war films have had some point other than the visceral excitements of slaughter. What’s particularly depressing about ‘Black Hawk Down’ is that it doesn’t even sense the need for a point.”
Stanley Kauffman, writing on “Reasons for Being,” in the Jan. 21 issue of the New Republic
‘Not a bad lad’
“Shortly after the identity of the would-be shoe-bomber of the Paris-to-Miami flight was revealed, a British newspaper traced and interviewed his father. Speaking of his son, Richard Reid, Mr. Reid Sr. said, ‘He’s not a bad lad. I can’t imagine him doing anything like this without being involved with somebody else.’
“Not a bad lad! One rubs one’s eyes in disbelief.
“Actually, ‘not a bad lad’ is now a stock phrase of British parents when asked to comment on the appalling conduct of their offspring. Not long ago, for example, it was reported that a youth aged 14 had been caught by the police for about the 250th time while committing a crime, terrorizing the entire district in which he lived: but he, too, in the opinion of his mother, was ‘not a bad lad, really.’
“This phrase reveals the deep sentimentality that pervades modern life and thought. The goodness of a person has no connection with how he conducts himself: for each of us carries within him a Platonic essence (more real than any illusory phenomena, such as behavior) that is, by definition, good. It follows that each person has an inalienable right to be considered good, however he behaves. We shall all be judged and found perfect.”
Theodore Dalrymple, writing on “Just Your Average Shoe-Bomber,” in the Jan. 28 issue of National Review
“Following the tragedy of 9/11, record numbers of people returned to their traditional houses of worship, seeking peace of mind and a purpose to life. In just a few months, however, the flock has shrunk back to pre-tragedy numbers as many recent returnees failed to find what they were looking for.
“Still seeking salvation, but disappointed in the theology and practices offered by the religions they once practiced, people of all faiths who are on a spiritual quest to find new answers to age-old problems will gravitate toward a new millennium religion. Like those religions before it, the yet-unnamed new millennium religion will configure the minds of individuals, form new institutions and help direct the course of history.
“If there is one major trend that will drive life in the new millennium, this is it. A new major religion, whose seeds have been sown in the growing ‘quest for spirituality’ that has spread over the last decade and a half, will grow to a scale that rivals any of the great world religions from Islam to Christianity.”
Gerald Celente, writing on “Top Trends 2002,” in the winter issue of the Trends Research Journal