- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Border battle

“In the southeastern corner of Arizona, Cochise County rides the Mexican border. And there’s a burr under its saddle.

“Armed civilian groups are patrolling the international boundary, scouting the rolling grasslands and rough hills for people who have entered the United States illegally, and in many cases detaining them until the U.S. Border Patrol arrives to take them into custody. The leaders of these militias say they are compensating for inadequate government enforcement of misguided immigration policies that allow undocumented workers, drug smugglers, and possibly terrorists to ‘swarm’ across the border, damaging private property, harming the environment, and intimidating rural residents. …

“Texas rancher Jack Foote founded Ranch Rescue in June 2000, inspired in part by the exploits of Cochise County rancher Roger Barnett, who patrols his 22,000-acre Cross Rail Ranch with his brothers, his dog, and his Colt .45 and M-16. …

“‘I’ve ridden along with Roger on his ranch,’ says Foote. ‘These criminal trespassers — that’s what they are, criminals — have torn up his infrastructure for his cattle ranch, they’ve torn down his fences, broken his water pumps, killed his cattle, and trashed his grazing areas.’”

—James Reel, writing on “Men With Guns,” in the July-August issue of Sojourners

Anti-advertising

“Perhaps you’re sick of advertising and all its predictable gimmicks. You know who else is? Advertisers. …

“Two of the noisiest campaigns of the last 12 months have been the Coors Light ‘twins’ ads and the Miller Lite ‘catfight’ ads, both of which relied on the familiar theory that sexy women make great sales props. And it looks as though we’re seeing more of the same in a [new Heineken ad] that seems to be set at a rooftop party. There’s a tattooed dude, dancing with beer in hand, and lots of energetic young men and women, expressing a suspicious amount of joie de vivre while a ludicrous fast-rock song plays. … A trio of identical blondes in revealing shorts prance vacantly into the milieu, knocking over a cardboard version of themselves. Then a voice speaking through a bullhorn shouts, ‘Come on, give me some skin.’ Ah, it’s the director of the ‘commercial.’ ‘Cut!’ he yells.

“Viewing all this from across the way are attendees at another rooftop party — a real one. It’s mellow, with laid-back R&B; playing, a little barbecue, a big old dog, and a (suspiciously) multi-culti crew all having the time of their enlightened lives together. Basquiat-like graffiti lends the perfect urban-hipster-sophisticate touch. …

“So what if that Heineken party looks — and of course is — every bit as concocted as the one it’s looking down on? … Advertising isn’t about a consistent worldview; in this case, it’s about catching a mood. Right now the mood happens to be a little testy about certain commercial tactics and trends.”

Rob Walker, writing on “Does Heineken Hate Beer Babes?” Monday in Slate at www.slate.com

Stereotype TV

“My boyfriend is not what you’d call ‘fashion-conscious.’ … His idea of trying on a new pair of pants involves dangling them against his frame, somewhere in between his waist and his neck, and declaring them fit for public consumption. …

“What’s a girl to do? Hire a gay entourage, apparently. Or do the next best thing: tune in to ‘Queer Eye for the Straight Guy’ on Bravo, a gleefully exploitative program in which a team of ‘queer’ guys come out of the closet to, well, rearrange straight guy’s closets. …

“I like these guys. I think they’re smart and sassy and I wouldn’t mind sipping a fluorescent martini with them myself. The show is incredibly entertaining, too. But that’s exactly the problem. We’re welcoming homosexuality into our homes, sure; homosexuality as a socially palatable diversion — in the form of a snug, smug stereotype.”

Kara Baskin, writing on “Eye of the Beholder,” in New Republic Online at www.tnr.com

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