- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 16, 2002

'Babes on the air'

"The Paula Zahn incident, in which the news fox was characterized in a CNN promotion as being sexy, has ruffled the plumage in that branch of the information industry. Imagine: Television news admitting that looks matter. It is as if the alcohol industry had let out the fact that its products can get you drunk. Natural response: 'You don't say!'

"The industry is blushing, however, which is why enlightened consumers should take this time to thank the networks for putting babes on the air. Otherwise, be guaranteed that we wouldn't watch nearly as much news as we now do.

"Perhaps that's the point of staffing the news desks with chicks. One would hope so. Serving a market is what capitalism is all about. You had better aim to please and if you're lucky you will. From there flows the manna. Beauty is better than the alternative; the more of it the better.

"Nonetheless, the railing has been quite loud. A pretty face hasn't unleashed so much concern since the recent controversy over the televised presentation of the Victoria's Secret catalogue."

Dave Shiflett, writing on "Foxy News," Monday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

Heretical families

"The actual Western model of the family a temporary, fragile, and unstructured group of atomized and equal individuals has very little to do with the family as revealed in the teachings of the Scriptures. This Western reductionist view of the family is a sociological and historical anomaly, a philosophical aberration, and is, from the point of view of the historic Christian faith, unquestionably heretical.

"As is clearly witnessed by the Torah, the family has a temporal priority over every other social institution. God created Adam first, then from Adam he made Eve, and together they brought forth children into the world. All social institutions religious, political, economic and cultural have their root in the original family.

"The Western family had in fact given up almost all of its divinely ordained functions to the Almighty State. It has thus become an empty shell, a temporary and insignificant assemblage of individuals, soon to be durably dispersed. These atomized individuals, for all their pretension to personal liberty and autonomy, are in fact totally dependent on the functioning of our new Leviathan, the modern bureaucratic state."

Jean-Marc Berthoud, writing on "The Model Family," in the December issue of Touchstone

Too hunky

"Russell Crowe [in 'A Beautiful Mind] gives the kind of performance that sends a thrill up the spines of Academy voters, and the film is in no mood to let us forget it.

"When the same actor played Maximus, in 'Gladiator,' the question of his beautiful mind never arose, at least half the audience being more concerned with how much beautiful body he could pack inside a breastplate; he lived within the part, and we, in turn, were content to live the story through him, whereas [mathematician John] Nash is such a tight, recalcitrant being that Crowe's efforts to break into him never really bear us along.

"Crowe astounds with his technical skill the organ-deep murmur of the West Virginia voice, the rubbing of palm against brow as if to wipe it clean of besmirching thought and yet I felt almost embarrassed to see him return to the hassled complexity that he explored in 'The Insider.' Crowe is now an officially designated hunk, whether he likes it or not. Blame the bigotry of our natural taste, but the history of cinema owes more to brooding hunks than to cracked eggheads, and we simply find it hard to watch the strong play the weak."

Anthony Lane, writing on "Game Boy," in the Jan. 7 issue of New Yorker

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