- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Walking the plank

“The bang-bang summer movie season has its first genuine surprise: ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,’ Disney’s nautical opus. … The surprise is not that ‘Pirates’ is a decent movie, but that it’s a decent movie about pirates. After a half-century of dreary pirate cinema, news that Johnny Depp would be donning pantaloons and prancing across the foredeck had left viewers with more than a twinge of dread.

“Pirate movies have embarrassed directors like Roman Polanski and Steven Spielberg. They have maimed the careers of Orson Welles and Walter Matthau. If they were merely a creative disaster, Hollywood could forgive them — these days, what summer movie isn’t a mess? But pirate movies often result in financial whirlpools, too. ‘Cutthroat Island’ (1995), the Exxon Valdez of the genre, returned around $11 million on a $120 million investment, making it one of the biggest flops in the history of the movies. This year’s ‘Pirates’ came in over budget and behind schedule, and now finds itself in the uncomfortable position of grubbing for dollars in the Terminator’s wake.”

Bryan Curtis, writing on “The Celluloid Pirate,” Friday in Slate at www.slate.com

‘Lullaby of dullness’

“After watching [Ari Fleischer] in action for years briefing a White House press corps that is both very hungry for any new information and as a whole, instinctively opposed to the administration’s generally conservative thrust (meaning new and damaging information is the best scoop), it would be appropriate to joke that now he can try a less stressful job, like deactivating mines. …

“As I sat in the White House briefing room, and heard reporters declaring their love for Molly Ivins and questioning the honesty of President Bush even in the first week after September 11, I thought Ari’s job was one I would never want to have. …

“You are there to hand out only the assigned cup or teaspoon of information the White House wants released, and no more. It’s not easy being boring for three years straight, but it’s essential to managing an unmanageable press. This was the area where you most had to admire Ari’s skills. How many times did regular Joes want to tell Helen Thomas to go jump in a vat of hummus? He did eventually realize that he could rib Helen, saying after the 2002 elections ‘you sound like a commercial that didn’t work.’ …

“[M]atching Ari’s lullaby of dullness is not going to be easy.”

Tim Graham, writing on “Appreciating Ari,” Monday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

Whose free speech?

“The last piece of recent drivel regurgitated by the feminist establishment is the supposedly new and improved Ms. magazine. … On the cover of the Summer 2003 issue is Janeane Garafalo. … Garafalo is featured in a story with ‘Susan Sarandon, the Dixie Chicks and all your favorite free speech stars.’ Really? They’re not my favorites. … Is Ms. finally simply trying to prove how desperately hypocritical and out-of-touch the feminist establishment really is?

“After all, who can forget the obscene attack on the free speech of a Jewish woman who dared to speak her mind a few years ago? She was attacked by the New Gestapo for using an unapproved-of word. …

“Was she featured in Ms. magazine? Is her case discussed in their article about the assault on freedom of expression? Of course not, because the woman I’m speaking of is [radio host] Laura [Schlessinger] and the gang that flew into a jihad to destroy her was the gay establishment, along with the help of the Feminist Elite and hypocrites like Susan Sarandon. The double-standard is stunning, and exposes nothing less than the partisan leftist agenda that has been masquerading as feminism for far too long.”

Tammy Bruce, writing on “The (Anti-)Feminist Movement,” Monday in Front Page at www.frontpagemag.com

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