- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Summertime hype

“Like the blazing summer sun, the media and marketing blitz surrounding Hollywood’s hottest season can be searing. …

“From the studio’s perspective, a movie’s only worth is its ability to lure you into the theaters. So slick trailers, big-name stars, and a catchy title are more valuable than the actual film. Publicists act as carnival barkers. …

“All of this hoopla happens before we get to see the movie, which is treated as an afterthought. Last summer, Americans lived and breathed ‘Men in Black 2’ for months before it arrived. No wonder I was sick of the picture before I saw a single frame. …

“Box-office reports are rarely a good judge of a movie’s quality, especially during the summer. When a film debuts in first place … more often than not it’s an indication of the marketing campaign’s success and little else.

“By touting first-place standings, the studios are essentially telling you that almost everyone else in America went to see their movie last weekend except you. The implication is that if you don’t race out to catch their film, you’ll be hopelessly out of it. But really, does anyone feel any shame for skipping last year’s ‘Scooby Doo?’”

Josh Larsen, writing on “Beat the Summer Movie Hype,” in the June issue of the American Enterprise.

Gone wild

“If the object of a man’s love is only a woman acting badly, how strong can his love be for her, especially when she’s just like so many others. …

“Consider the success of ‘Girls Gone Wild,’ a video series that is the brainchild of millionaire Joe Francis. Francis has produced more than 80 versions of these films, in which women voluntarily bare their breasts for crowds of drunken men and a few movie cameras. These women are mostly college students, our educated elite; my peasant grandmother, who never went to school, would have run circles around them intellectually. Meanwhile, Joe Francis gets the last laugh and all the profits. Last year ‘Girls Gone Wild’ earned him $90 million. Some of the women, as if to prove their stupidity even further, have sued him; none has prevailed. …

“Women have forfeited control of their destinies. They can choose their universities, careers, houses, and so on but they have no good men from whom to choose because they’ve set the moral bar so low that men don’t need to rise to the challenge of being good men. They don’t have to because women don’t demand it.”

Pia de Solenni, writing on “Girls Gone Wild,” in the May 5 issue of National Review

Mythical era

“‘The Times they are a-changin,’” Bob Dylan declared with a growl in 1964. The sense of apocalyptic inevitability that drove Dylan the certainty that this revolution was jolting households across America, provides the starting point for NBC’s bold family drama, ‘American Dreams.’ …

“Set in working-class Philadelphia and centered on the Pryors, an Irish-Catholic family, the show is planted right on the cracks that emerged in the 1960s as subterranean America got all shook up. A new age was born, and, in the way that creation myths usually do, the ‘60s have fascinated us ever since. …

“The show’s most jagged moments occur between Jack and Helen Pryor, the young parents of four children ranging from ages 7 to 18.

“It doesn’t take long to see that their marriage is meant to prefigure the culture wars that have dominated American public life in the aftermath of the ‘60s Jack defaults to an embattled midcentury Roman Catholicism, while Helen cautiously moves toward less traditional visions of freedom.”

Eric Miller, writing on “Culture Wars: The Prequel,” in the May issue of Christianity Today

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