- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Market imperialism
"In the mid-1990s, the well-known French filmmaker Claude Berri warned that without protection from American cultural exports, 'European culture is finished.' He had plenty of pessimistic company. In that era, French Culture Minister Jack Lang spoke in terms of America's irrepressible 'cultural imperialism.' …
"Today, similar jeremiads are blowing as strong as ever: The leading prophet of cultural doom these days is Benjamin R. Barber, an academic growing hoarse as he warns against the dull global 'monoculture' he thinks is being imposed by American capitalism. …
"[Indian filmmaker Shekhar] Kapur believes that "American culture has been able to dominate the world because it has had the biggest home market." But the growing commercial importance of Asia China, India, Japan along with the larger markets of the Mideast and North Africa will change that, he argues. In other words, cultural globalization is far from a recipe for American dominance; it is an opportunity for other cultures and markets to assert themselves.
"'In 15 years from now,' he writes, 'we won't be discussing the domination of the Western media, but the domination of the Chinese media, or the Asian media. Soon we will find that in order to make a hugely successful film, you have to match Tom Cruise with an Indian or a Chinese actor.'"
Charles Paul Freund, writing on "We Aren't the World," in the March issue of Reason

Pathetically busy
"[M]edia outlets … have been running stories looking at the odd state of dating and romance in this country. Of particular concern/interest is the decline of regular old dating and the emergence of super-efficient methods of mate location, such as Internet dating, speed dating … or dating coaches. … The individuals who use these new services overwhelmingly give the same reasons: They're far too busy for regular dating.
"On the surface, this seems like a very hip, modern explanation for employing services that might once have been (unfairly) regarded as the last bastion of losers. … But, really. Too busy to date? Or even meet people? Please.
"Relationships take work. Am I supposed to believe that some guy who doesn't have more than eight minutes to spend with me at a Friday night speed-dating session is going to have the time and energy to be a decent boyfriend or husband? …
"People dreaming of romance but 'too busy' for all the messy inefficiencies it entails don't need help getting a date. They need to get a life."
Michelle Cottle, writing on "The Heart Beat," Friday in the New Republic Online at www.tnr.com

Against tyranny
"On [Feb. 10], the National Theatre crowd eagerly awaited [director Ron] Maxwell's 210-minute epic 'Gods and Generals' which opens in movie theaters nationwide Feb. 21. …
"The film opened with Col. Robert E. Lee played by Robert Duvall of the U.S. Army meeting with an envoy from President Abraham Lincoln. The president was prepared to offer Lee command of the 75,000-volunteer Union army that was being formed to put down the rebellion. …
"Lee then opined that Lincoln's call for 75,000 volunteers hadn't solved the secession crisis but had worsened it. The president of the United States forming an army to invade sovereign states was, Lee said, a form of tyranny.
"The same reference to a tyrannical federal government seeking to impose its will on Southern states seeking independence was repeated as Gen. Thomas 'Stonewall' Jackson (portrayed by Stephen Lang) spoke to the troops he had been ordered to raise by presidential edict. An invasion by a Northern army would subject Southern states to tyranny, Jackson told the troops.
"What's this we have here? A Civil War film, in a nation run amok with political correctness, that thumbs its nose at the politically correct line?"
Gregory Kane, writing on "Civil War film may reopen debate on cause of conflict," Feb. 12 in the Baltimore Sun

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