- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 22, 2003

War drums

“If you logged any time watching the war in Iraq you heard a lot of blaring trumpets, military drums, and soaring violins the artillery of broadcast news themes. As the number of cable, satellite, and Internet news options rapidly grows, music has become increasingly important in helping characterize a news organization and its anchors…. For Operation Iraqi Freedom, many networks commissioned special themes composed of authoritative martial elements victorious brass, pounding timpani, and electronic war sounds.

“NBC was the first to take news music to the big leagues: In the mid-‘80s, it commissioned a grand symphonic work called ‘The Mission’ from Hollywood composer John Williams…. The other organizations have been trying to match its success ever since….

“For the new Gulf War, NBC commissioned a special war theme from New York composer Michael Karp, the man behind the sound of ‘Dateline NBC.’ The theme successfully incorporates Williams’ blend of symphonic confidence with strong thematic material; the music revolves emphatically around counterpoint and declamation. While it’s not as memorable as Williams’ theme, it’s the best of the new war music.”

Adam Baer, writing on “The Sounds of War,” Thursday in Slate at www.slate.com

Boom and backlash

“In the 1960s the ‘baby boom’ generation converged on colleges and universities across the land, bringing about a revolution in higher education. They demanded more from their college years than a traditional liberal arts curriculum they wanted relevance. They wanted insights into contemporary social issues such as poverty, civil rights, and the war in Vietnam. They could not be bothered with Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas and John Locke; these were figures of the past, and seemed to offer little of value to the America of the time….

“The result was a change in the liberal arts curriculum. Out went Aristotle, Aquinas, and Locke, although Marx stayed in the canon. In came new names names like Fanon, Aptheker, and Chomsky….

“Students are as restless today as they were in the 1960s. They, too, are looking for ‘relevance,’ but by that they mean job skills. They believe that the purpose of a university education is to prepare them for a career…. They regard their professors, young and old, with the same disdain in which their 1960s counterparts held the older faculty. For them Fanon, Aptheker and Chomsky hold no more appeal than Aristotle, Aquinas, and Locke just more stuff to memorize for the test, then forget about.”

John Moser, writing on The Liberal Arts and the New “Student Revolt,” for the Ashbrook Center at www.ashbrook.org

Populist fantasy

“The key to reality TV’s vitality … is the audience’s mutable relationship to the contestants the Rocky Balboa way they can be clowns and the people’s champions simultaneously. Simply by existing, reality programming exposes the class distinctions that the rest of the medium sweeps under America’s magic carpet, since its priorities are so flagrantly lumpen. And so are its assumptions, the proof being Joe Millionaire’s concern with whether those itchy broads were after Marriott’s bogus bankroll or loved him for himself a question genuine rich people would find baffling. (They are their money; their money is them. End of story.) Yet ‘Joe Millionaire’ wasn’t just crass; it was profoundly crass. In every particular the hero’s false pretenses, the belief that France spells elegant, the champagne fetish the show resurrected kitschy eternal verities that even Hollywood finds creaky…. When Marriott and his chosen one, Zora Andrich, reached the happy ending of their ridiculously rigged fairy tales, I know what I thought: Up yours, Charles and Di. This is democracy.”

Tom Carson, writing on “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing,” in the May issue of GQ

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