- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Eminem cinema
"Curtis Hanson's '8 Mile,' a not-really-but-kind-of biography of Eminem, in which the rapper himself stars, is straightforward, rudimentary, old-fashioned moviemaking, cranking away in the service of a story we've seen over and over again, from 'Rebel Without a Cause' to 'Saturday Night Fever.' At once creaky and compelling, '8 Mile' is an early 21st-century meditation on the youthful dream (or necessity) of making yourself heard and getting away, fast, from the roots that threaten to strangle you.
"For better or worse '8 Mile' is far less sophisticated than Eminem's music itself: As a performer, Eminem is a master of point of view, an artist who puts himself (and his reputation) at the mercy of the characters he creates. When fancy-pants novelists do that, they win big prizes; when hip-hop artists do it, they're decried as the end of civilization.
"I'm a fan of Eminem's precisely because I can't explain him easily: My inability to get him fully as opposed to my approval or disapproval of any of his perceived 'messages' is what keeps me coming back.
"'8 Mile' doesn't even begin to explain Eminem's complexity. If anything, it strips much of it back, making him seem more likable and accessible than he comes off either in interviews or performances."
Stephanie Zacharek, writing on "The Marshall Mathers movie," Friday in Salon at www.salon.com

Slap 'em around
"It's quite possible that the greatest favor the United States could do for Canada is to declare war on it. A full-scale conquest is unnecessary; all Canada needs is to be slapped around a little bit, to be treated like a whining kid who's got to start acting like a man. We've done it more than once, and we've threatened it plenty of times.
"Five decades ago, historian Frank Underhill wrote that the Canadian is 'the first anti-American, the model anti-American, the archetypal anti-American, the ideal anti-American as he exists in the mind of God.'
"Canadian anti-Americanism is anti-American by reflex, which is to say that when America goes about its business, Canada flinches and calls this tic 'the Canadian way.'
"The Canadian Mounties were created to restrain the tomfoolery of American whiskey traders. They chose their red tunics solely to distinguish themselves from the Union blues of American cavalry."
Jonah Goldberg, writing on "Bomb Canada," in the Nov. 25 issue of National Review

Familiar line
"Uh oh. Here come the left-wingers, blaming the Democratic Party's poor showing in Tuesday's elections on its drift to the right. Several lefties are repeating a familiar line: Given a choice between a real Republican and a fake one, voters will choose the real one every time.
"It's true that there's no reason to vote Democratic if the Democratic candidate is identical to the Republican. There has to be a difference. But it doesn't follow that the more different the Democrat is, the more votes he'll get. George McGovern was very different from Richard Nixon. Bill Clinton, in terms of policy, wasn't so different from George H.W. Bush.
"Properly understood, being a Clinton-type Democrat rather than a McGovern-type Democrat isn't about eliminating the differences between you and your Republican opponent. It's about choosing those differences. You eliminate differences that create bad policy or bad politics in order to focus the election on differences that create good policy or good politics. If you insist on being different about everything, you let your opponent define you by defining himself. He's for war, so you're against it. He's for tax cuts, so you're against them. Pretty soon, you're against Mom and apple pie."
William Saletan, writing on "Wellstone's ghost," Thursday in Slate at www.slate.com

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