- The Washington Times - Friday, February 28, 2003

(Not) 'About Schmidt'
"'About Schmidt' isn't really about the title character played by Jack Nicholson (an actuary for an Omaha insurance company who re-evaluates his life in the wake of his retirement). This movie is about the Midwest and Hollywood's smug, condescending view of the supposedly dimwitted dullards who live there.
"Nicholson's Warren Schmidt is a withered WASP full of buried emotions and unfounded optimism. …
"Considering that movie theaters actually do exist in that vast expanse between New York City and Los Angeles (or so I've heard), releasing a commercial film mocking middle Americans is a bit like speaking ill of your employer while he's in the room. Unless, of course, the target is too stupid to understand what you're saying. …
"The Midwest we see on this screen is one of monolithic skyscrapers, sterile suburbs, and banal chain restaurants. … And there's a reason for that no movie extolling the wholesomeness of America's Midwest would ever win an award from most movie critics."
Josh Larsen, writing on "Bull Schmidt," in the March issue of the American Enterprise

Crime therapy
"One of the ways by which youth crime has been reduced, according to officialdom, is a curious quasi-treatment known as anger management. By this means, youths are trained to contain their impulsive actions when they feel anger welling up within them and to count to 10 instead of lashing out, as was their pre-treatment custom.
"Here, once again, we see the triumph of the Therapeutic State. Come unto me, says the State, and I will make you whole. The corollary of this, of course, is that if I am not made whole, if on the contrary I continue to shout and stamp my feet and slap my girlfriend, the fault is not mine, but the State's, for not having provided me with the assistance I need. …
"For every behavioral problem … there is an equal and opposite therapy: until then, they are justified in continuing to do whatever it is that brings them into conflict with the law. Indeed, they can continue to do so with a sense of moral superiority to the rest of society and to the law itself: for they have been deprived by society of that to which they are entitled; namely, help. They are angry that they have had no anger management, or no help for their addiction to stealing cars.
"This perfectly dovetails with both the intellectual outlook and material interests of the apparatchiks of therapy. … The ideal of the Therapeutic State is for half the population to be in permanent counseling with the other half."
Dr. Theodore Dalrymple, a British prison physician, writing on "Say They Have a Right to Be Angry and They Will Be," Wednesday in the Times of London

Dude, you're jobless
"Ben Curtis, a 22-year-old who hails from Chattanooga, Tenn., … the annoying kid on the Dell commercials who says things like "Dig it" and "Dude, yer gettin' a Dell," inspiring a handful of creepy fan sites and helping Dell's sales surge, … was suddenly out of work.
"On Feb. 9, he was arrested on charges of buying less than two ounces of marijuana. The arrest prompted Dell to cancel the actor's contract, which was valued somewhere in the vicinity of $500,000.
"The down-to-earth NYU acting student says it's the best thing that's happened to him. 'I'm done with the Dell stuff,' he told the New York Sun in his first interview since his arrest. 'I wasn't being taken seriously as an actor, I was having a hard time getting proper auditions … .'"
"His heroes are Sean Penn and Johnny Depp. 'I always saw myself playing a soldier from the south that had serious problems from childhood or something,' he said. 'It's fun to play really messed-up people.'
"More fun than playing an annoying computer geek.
"'I was getting frustrated. My creative talent was getting wasted.'"
Lauren Mechling, writing on "Dell Dude Talks of Life, Pot and a Lesson Learned," in the New York Sun yesterday

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