- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 20, 2003

'Mind control'
"Elizabeth Smart is back home. Her parents are happy, the world is happy. But is she happy?
"Certainly, I'll never know for sure. But it is an interesting question, whose possible answer is being muddied by all the talk of 'brainwashing' and 'mind control.' …
"Of course, if someone takes control of someone else's very survival and controls all the information that person receives … it becomes easier to implant certain ideas and make them stick. In other contexts, this is called 'socialization,' but when we don't like the ideas and thoughts thus influenced, it becomes mind control.
"But as many exasperated and despairing parents know, human beings are not automatons who can be mechanically brainwashed in the way that popular (and responsibility-shirking) metaphor implies. …
"But the press and public ought not to be so quick to embrace the painfully loose concept of 'brainwashing' or 'mind control' as an explanation. These are the most colorful weapons in the arsenal of those who try desperately to deny the reality of human choice when that choice goes in directions they don't approve of or refuse to understand."
Brian Doherty, writing "Smart Comes Back From Stockholm," Friday in Reason Online at www. reason. com
Hate film
"'Bringing Down the House,' which topped the American box office last weekend, is the most racist piece of trash released by a Hollywood studio since the 1950s, if not before. The movie, directed by Adam Shankman (who is white), depicts all of its Anglo characters as stupid, racist, and/or sexually obsessed. The problem isn't that the movie deals in stereotypes but that it actually demonstrates a seething hatred of every person in the script with white skin.
"'Bringing Down the House's dreadful script … starts with Charlene Morton (Queen Latifah) and Los Angles lawyer Peter Sanderson (Steve Martin) chatting on AOL Instant Messenger. Morton describes herself as a lawyer with long blond tresses while the aging Sanderson implies that he's a bit younger than his 50 years. Morton, of course, turns out to be, well, Queen Latifah: a big, sassy black woman with a good brain, quick wit, and a 'street' affect. She can speak like an Ivy League grad but it's a point of pride that she won't. …
"Some recent light comedies 'The Nutty Professor,' 'Cool Runnings,' 'Undercover Brother' do get comic mileage out of racial stereotypes. But such movies almost always show true affection for the 'victims' of the stereotypes in question. Viewers like the Jamaican Bobsled Team, the flatulent Klumps, and the Undercover Brother himself. … But the white characters in 'Bringing Down the House' prove themselves utterly reprehensible in every way. Movies about hatred can sometimes make for good drama. But they make for dreadful comedy."
Eli Lehrer, writing on "Bringing Down the House," yesterday in Front Page at www.frontpagemag.com
Night moves
"What is M. Night Shyamalan trying to tell us? Clearly, the writer/director of mega-hits 'The Sixth Sense,' 'Unbreakable,' and 'Signs' has something on his mind. More than any other popular director in America, Shyamalan deals with big ideas. Almost alone among his colleagues, he treats religion seriously and sympathetically, as opposed to the Hollywood norm of contempt and condescension. …
Shyamalan is a master entertainer a cross between Steven Spielberg and Alfred Hitchcock. Be he is Spielberg for grown-ups, without the glitzy special effects and collection of lovable aliens, adoring androids, and time-traveling teens. In Shyamalan's universe, there is death, alienation, loss, and pain. But there's also hope, reconnection, redemption, and transcendence."
Don Feder, writing on "The Benevolent Universe of Filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan," in the April/May issue of the American Enterprise

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