- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 7, 2002

True heroes
"Sometime after the 1983 liberation of Grenada, Ronald Reagan observed that one of the important achievements of the operation was that it helped get America over Vietnam. No longer was every military campaign destined to be another lost, aimless war. This weekend, Hollywood finally caught up to the Gipper. No longer is every movie about Vietnam destined to portray the war as aimless and immoral.
"Mel Gibson's new film 'We Were Soldiers' tells a story of the first major American military engagement in Vietnam, the Ia Drang Valley battle of November 1965. The film focuses on some 400 American soldiers, inserted miles into hostile territory, who fought thousands of North Vietnamese army troops. They were surrounded for three days, but fought on with bravery and honor principled men vs. a determined, well-equipped foe. The Americans end up killing nearly 2,000 of the enemy and winning the battle.
"What elevates the film is that it's a true story about Vietnam. Hollywood simply hasn't been able to tell a true story that portrays Americans as the good guys in that conflict in a long time."
Brendan Miniter, writing on "We Were Soldiers, Not Baby Killers," Monday in Opinion Journal at www. opinion-journal. com

Musical slaves?

"Several top recording stars are protesting what they see as recording contracts requiring artists to become 'indentured servants.' They are currently lobbying to change a 1987 California state law that requires artists to make albums still 'owed' to their labels, even after contracts expire.
"The group, led by some of the top recording artists from several eras including the Eagles' Don Henley, Joni Mitchell, Billy Joel, Sheryl Crow, the Dixie Chicks and Courtney Love is trying to bring attention to what the artists call overly long, and unfair contracts imposed on musicians by record labels. …
"But others say that artists complaining about restrictive contracts are not typical of most musicians in the business most of them can't afford homes in Beverly Hills, for starters. Record companies, they say, set up long-term contracts to minimize their own risks for developing untested talent.
"For an industry that relies on sales of established artists to offset losses made by the newer acts, there are challenges here, too. Big names such as Mariah Carey, Tori Amos and Rod Stewart were recently dropped after poor retail turnover."
Daniel B. Wood, writing on "Behind Grammy grins, an industry grimaces," Feb. 27 in the Christian Science Monitor

Celebrity culture
"The celebrity industry the bedazzled magazines, the breathlessly inconsequential infotainment programs, the whole fun, fluffy fraction of the culture was supposed to be among the collateral damage of September 11. It was going to be impossible henceforth for any thinking, feeling American to watch the Golden Globes or even think about the National Enquirer. Our interest in Tom Cruise and Britney Spears would evaporate. The era of amoral vacuity … was at an end.
"At press time, no such paradigm shift has occurred. Sure, Talk magazine died, and for a few weeks last fall, the entertainment-gossip TV shows were doing segments about firemen instead of Charlize Theron and Enrique Iglesias. But just wait until the next 'It Girl' messes up, or the next politician gets caught in a sex scandal, or a new celebrity-mad media idea gets traction. Rapt attention will be paid.
"In a couple of weeks, watch the Oscars regardless of the patriotic flourishes, we will ogle the stars' dresses and haircuts just as avidly as we did last year and the year before. September 11 did not turn us into some kind of earnest Greatest Generation redux."
Kurt Andersen, writing on "Only Gossip," in Sunday's New York Times Magazine

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