- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Favorite villain
"Tinseltown's most poisonous venom is reserved for the military. Other than Mel Gibson's 'We Were Soldiers' or movies starring Chuck Norris, how many Vietnam-themed films do not portray veterans of that conflict as bloodthirsty lunatics, doped-out losers, or sufferers from some other severe form of mental illness?
"The revulsion felt for the military interrupted by a recent wave of patriotic war movies goes beyond Vietnam-themed flicks. Recent cinematic offerings depict crackpot Marines attempting to nuke San Francisco ('The Rock') or approving the killing of an out-of-step private ('A Few Good Men'). From watching 'The General's Daughter,' one gets the idea that the typical rapist is not an inhabitant of the urban jungle or of a correctional institution but an officer candidate at West Point. Classics such as 'The Sands of Iwo Jima,' 'The Longest Day,' and 'Sergeant York' are lambasted for being pro-military propaganda. Yet the events depicted in these movies really happened. Films like 'The Rock' are only the product of a writer's warped perception of the armed forces, making it more of a propaganda film than any midcentury war movie. Despite all the negativity, there is reason for optimism. The success of films such as 'Saving Private Ryan,' 'We Were Soldiers' and 'Black Hawk Down' make it increasingly unlikely that there will be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for propagandistic scripts railing against America. Money talks nowhere as loudly as it does in Hollywood."
Daniel J. Flynn, from his new book, "Why the Left Hates America"

Jitters city
"At just the moment when Washington is proposing to lead the world into war against a homicidal potentate in Iraq, the [sniper] killings left the nation's capital cowering under its collective bed. Across a vast metropolitan area that spans parts of four states and holds 5 million people, virtually all public activities [were] halted.
"Those of us who detected a change in American psychology after September 11 turn out to have been wrong. We are not behaving with the pluck of Israelis, as one might have hoped; we are not even behaving like Londoners during the Blitz. About the only consolation for Washingtonians is that the wider nation has, if anything, outdone us in its jitters. When the sniper shot a man in Ashland, Va., 108 miles south of the first cluster of attacks, the mayor of nearby Richmond responded by shutting down the 141,000-student public-school system indefinitely.
"Meanwhile, the 'Battle of the Bands', which draws tens of thousands of spectators and thousands of musicians to Washington D.C.'s historically black Howard University each October, fizzled out when 23 of the marching bands cancelled their visits. Howard, as it happens, is located at the edge of a neighborhood that is one of the Western world's homicide havens. The sniper has shot exactly one person within the Washington city limits."
Christopher Caldwell, writing on "In the Line of Fear," in the Oct. 26 issue of The Spectator

Spoiled rotten
"Mike Tyson insists he's not bad; he's just method acting. Left to his own devices, he says, he'd probably come off looking like a distinguished writer of timeless theater.
"'No one's gonna buy Mike Tyson as George Bernard Shaw, you know,' the petulant pugilist says in the upcoming issue of Details, comparing himself to the quick-witted playwright for no discernible reason. 'I just played to what they want to buy. The cameras get me paid, baby, the cameras get me paid.'
"Then again, he admits, he doesn't tend to display the traits of the deep-thinking dramatist out of the ring either.
"'Believe me, I'm very immature,' he says. 'I've been spoiled for most of my life.'"
Amy Reiter, writing on "Nothing Personal," Monday in Salon at www.salon.com

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