- The Washington Times - Monday, July 14, 2003

Films of fate

“There’s something odd going on at the multiplex. Two of this summer’s blockbuster sequels — ‘Terminator 3’ and ‘The Matrix Reloaded’ — tackle the same philosophical question: Do we control our fates, or is every event that happens to us part of an inescapable destiny? …

“[B]oth sequels come down solidly in the fatalism camp. That is, they both appear to suggest that all events in the history of the world, and, in particular, the actions and incidents which make up the story of their heroes, are predetermined, and that their efforts to avoid that fate are futile.

“It’s counterintuitive to see this fatalist argument out of Hollywood, and in action movies no less. Almost every action hero at some point in their stories chooses to risk their neck and take on the bad guy, protect the innocent, and so on. They could, theoretically, walk away — although it wouldn’t make much of a movie if Indiana Jones turned down the chance to beat the Nazis to the lost Ark of the Covenant, or Luke Skywalker decided to remain a farmer on Tattooine. What makes them heroes, in most cases, is that they deliberately choose to take on great challenges and fight the good fight.”

Jim Geraghty, writing on “Fatalist Blockbusters,” Friday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

Pop education

“Pop-music courses draw crowds of students on college campuses, and academic presses are putting out such portentous titles as ‘Instruments of Desire: The Electric Guitar and the Shaping of Musical Experience’ … and ‘Running With the Devil: Power, Gender, and Madness in Heavy Metal Music.’

“Pop-music professors, especially those who specialize in rock, are caught in an obvious paradox, which their students probably point out to them on the first day of class. Namely, it’s not very rock ‘n’ roll to intellectualize rock ‘n’ roll. When Pink Floyd sang, ‘We don’t need no education,’ they could not have foreseen the advent of research projects like ‘Another Book in the Wall?: A Cultural History of Pink Floyd’s Stage Performance and the Rise of Audiovisual Gesamtkunswerk, 1965-1994.’ … The pop scholar is forever doomed to sounding like the square kid at the cool kids’ party, killing their buzz with sentences like this: ‘From the start, hip-hop’s samples ran the gamut of genres, defying anyone who would delimit hip-hop’s palette.’”

Alex Ross, writing on “Rock 101,” in the July 14 issue of the New Yorker

Feminist pedophilia

“Germaine Greer deliberately provokes controversy with the cheapest trick. If there’s a taboo left, she’ll break it, and since one of the few remaining taboos in Western liberal democracies is pedophilia, that’s the arena she’s most recently entered.

“Her upcoming glossy book, ‘The Boy,’ full of pictures of ‘ravishing’ pre-adult boys with hairless chests, wide-apart legs and slim waists, is an ‘art book,’ [according to] Greer, 64. …

“She wouldn’t say exactly how young the ‘boys’ are in her book but has cheerily admitted it will ‘get me into a lot of trouble’ and expects she will be called a pedophile.

“‘I know that the only people who are supposed to like looking at pictures of boys are a subgroup of gay men,’ she wrote last year in London’s Daily Telegraph. ‘Well, I’d like to reclaim for women the right to appreciate the short-lived beauty of boys, real boys.’ —

“Once you get over the hypocrisy of the godmother of 1970s feminism salivating over boys as sex objects, you are left with the fact that Greer is using the language of pedophiles. …

“But the taboo against pedophilia is nothing to her. Like other long-gone taboos, it is just another challenge to the baby boomer generation.”

Miranda Devine, writing on “Generation of taboo breakers are a selfish lot,” Thursday in the Sydney Morning Herald

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