- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 9, 2002

'Landmark disgrace'

"After decades of paranoid counterculture thrillers, in which the heroes routinely stumble on some secret government organization that runs roughshod over the Bill of Rights in the name of protecting our American way of life, it was a lark in 'Men in Black' (1997) to be finally on the side of the hiply poker-faced fascists: men who put the highest priority on maintaining order while keeping their existence a secret.

"Although the film pretended to lampoon all those '50s, J.-Edgar-Hoover-vetted FBI dramas, in which the super-competent agents wore identical suits and reveled in their own conformity, it delivered the same sort of pleasure. The Men in Black constituted a fascist rainbow coalition. And it was absolutely delightful.

"With all the talk about trading civil liberties for security, the time would seem perfect to bring the 'Men in Black' back for even more double-edged satire. But 'Men in Black II' was hatched before [September 11] and doesn't have a thing on its mind except more and bigger squiggly beasties. If it isn't the worst sequel ever made, it's only because it has too much competition: Impersonal and frenetic, it's a landmark Hollywood disgrace."

David Edelstein, writing on "Suit Case," July 2 in Slate at slate.msn.com

Unreal 'World'

"Never has there been a more inaccurate name for a television series than that of MTV's pseudo-reality-television program 'The Real World.'

"MTV's 'The Real World ' is bringing up a generation of people who honestly believe this carefully crafted charade to be a true reflection of modern life.

"Teenagers across the country and across the globe watch 'The Real World' every week for their dose of soap opera 'reality.' As one might expect, only the most outrageous and basest behaviors survive the editing drinking, sex, crude and unusual experiences, parties, and general hedonistic pleasures all crammed into a half-hour segment.

"'"The Real World" glorifies alternative lifestyles by promoting them in a consequence-free environment,' college student Jessica Echard explains. 'It's used as a vehicle for promoting these interactions, which in turn shapes the way society is expected to act. It's really a show about changing our standards by chipping away at our innocence.'"

Sarah Trafford, writing on "MTV's 'Real World': Modeling Moral Anarchy to Our Youth," in the June 28 Culture and Family Report

No mystery

"'Read Koran': That's the bumper sticker long affixed to Hesham [Mohammed] Hadayet's front door.

"He was angry that Old Glory was being flown from the apartment window above him after September 11. Employees say he was virulently anti-Israel. He went to LAX with the intent of killing and somehow he missed the Delta counter and ended up at El Al. And we're supposed to think that 'so far we have no indication of any type of prejudice against any particular organization or nationality.' What planet are these FBI denialists on?

"It's irrelevant whether Hadayet was connected to official terrorist groups. In fact, if he is unconnected, his Jew-killing is more troubling. He is simply responding to the hate that the Arab and Muslim world has been stoking against Jews for decades. He needed no official instruction to tell him to kill Jews and Israelis. He wasn't poor: He was a prosperous immigrant who drove a Mercedes. The only instruction he needed was affixed to his door: 'Read Koran.'

"Why should we be surprised when, under the current circumstances and stoked by the new anti-Semitism from the Arab world and Europe, Hadayet took the Koran's injunction to kill Jews literally? And when is our government and p.c. media going to recognize we have a problem here? Can you imagine if a white supremacist had shown up at an African airline counter and killed blacks? Would anyone be 'puzzled' about the motive?"

Andrew Sullivan, writing in the "Daily Dish," Saturday at www.andrewsullivan.com

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