- The Washington Times - Monday, August 25, 2003

Anti-pop bias

“The first single from Justin Timberlake’s triple-platinum solo album, ‘Justified,’ came out nine months ago and was a dance-club standard by Christmas. … ‘Like I Love You’ is a tensile come-on sung in Michael Jackson’s old falsetto. …

“The second single … was ‘Cry Me a River’ … full of generous detail and disjunctive leaps and Timberlake’s second consecutive hit. The song got an obvious boost from gossip columnists reading it as Justin’s kiss-off to his ex, Britney Spears, but less obvious was the response from New Yorker music critic Alex Ross: ‘In the past year, rock critics found themselves in the faintly embarrassing position of having to hail Justin Timberlake’s “Justified” as one of the better records of the year.’ … In fact, there is a historical trend for critics to discount hugely popular artists who sell to kids, especially girls. Sometimes, critics … like to pretend that these artists don’t really exist. …

“Ross’ attack on Timberlake’s legitimacy is simply another appearance of the long-standing critical bias toward a certain kind of musician. …

“The emphasis of pop songs is on transitory physical pleasures, instead of the eternal truths that rock protects. Pop is also consumed by lots of women and kids, and what do they know? …

“Listen to Ross slag the kids and implicate the girls in this efficient dig: ‘Timberlake, for those who have let their subscription to Teen People lapse, is the blond, curly-haired 22-year-old lead singer of ‘N Sync.’”

Sasha Frere-Jones, “When Critics Meet Pop,” Friday in Slate at www.slate.com

Dissenting pleasure

“The fun to be had on the [Supreme] Court is in the dissent, and few doubt that [Justice Antonin] Scalia is a man interested in fun. …

“It is truly an unparalleled pleasure, after a decision comes down from the Supreme Court with which one disagrees, to be comforted by those two wonderful words: ‘Scalia’ and ‘dissenting.’ Such was the case for opponents of affirmative action, in Grutter v. Bollinger. The dastardly Justice [Sandra Day] O’Connor constructed the majority opinion, upholding the University of Michigan Law School’s racial preferences, even as the Court struck down an only slightly more rigid undergraduate scheme. But reason for cheer was not far off.

“‘The University of Michigan Law School’s mystical “critical mass” justification for its discrimination by race challenges even the most gullible mind,” Scalia thundered in the first sentence of his opinion, insulting a colleague before reaching his 32nd word.”

R.H. Sager, writing on “In Nino Veritas,” in the August-September issue of American Spectator

The real reason

“Some Christian film buffs have fond memories of the days when Hollywood made movies like ‘The Song of Bernadette,’ ‘Going My Way’ and ‘Ben-Hur.’ ‘The Passion’ is a quantum leap beyond those films: it portrays the cost of redemption without offering the viewer any consoling dollops of kitsch or sentimentality. [Mel] Gibson’s film is no Hollywood creation; it is, in fact, the antithesis of modern Hollywood. …

“If ‘The Passion’ does not bother Hollywood types at a spiritual and cultural level, it must certainly bother them at a purely commercial level. Consider: the subject matter is hardly likely to appeal to the teenagers-in-heat who frequent movie theatres today; the cast list includes few well-known names … and the dialogue is entirely in Latin and Aramaic. …

“‘The Passion’ will not inspire hatred towards the Jews; among some viewers at least it will inspire faith in Jesus Christ. This is, I think, in the end what most of Gibson’s enemies fear: the restoration of traditional Christianity and its faith in the God/Man.”

Deal Hudson, writing on “The Gospel According to Braveheart,” in the Aug. 23 issue of the Spectator

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