- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Raging Marty

“A recent American Express Card ad is built around an unusual celebrity endorser: Martin Scorsese. Yes, he’s made cameos in a number of films, from ‘Taxi Driver’ to ‘Gangs of New York,’ but we know him as a director, not an actor. …

“In the spot … Scorsese is standing at a drugstore counter, going through a batch of birthday-party photos he’s just had developed. Talking rapid-fire, he’s delivering a withering self-critique to the baffled clerk. ‘This one,’ he says, ‘it’s far too nostalgic.’ He asks the clerk about one snapshot; the clerk says, ‘It’s pretty.’ Perfectionist Scorsese stares back in disgust. ‘How could I have done this? I’ve lost the narrative thread.’ Muttering that he’ll have to re-shoot, he buys more film with his Amex card. Stalking off, he cell-phones his nephew: ‘It’s your Uncle Marty. How’d you like to turn 5 again?’

“So what Scorsese is doing is playing himself as a control freak. That’s his reputation, and it’s a funny ad. But of course what he’s really doing is playing a guy who has a sense of humor about his reputation as a control freak. …

“Amusingly, Advertising Age recently noted that before the real-life Scorsese would agree to be in the spot, he demanded to see and approve a reel of work by the ad’s director, Jim Jenkins. … Obviously this anecdote takes nothing away from Scorsese’s performance — in fact, it enhances it. It’s much harder to convincingly lampoon your image as a pushy control freak when you really are a pushy control freak.”

Rob Walker, writing on “Martin Scorsese Makes Fun of Himself,” Monday in Slate at www.slate.com

Mating market

“What made 1970s feminism such an anomaly was a puzzling combination of two things that don’t ordinarily go together: anger against men and promiscuity; man-hating and man-chasing. …

“The feminism of the 1970s was decisively shaped by a demographic phenomenon that brought heartbreak and disappointment to two large groups of women. The first group was the cohort of women born in the early years of the post-World War II baby boom. … When these girls started dating (in the 1960s), there were 1.7 million more of them than there were men in the age group where they ordinarily would have expected to find husbands. …

“Inevitably, there were abuses by men of their suddenly dominant position in the mating market. Many women of Betty Friedan and Bella Abzug’s generation found themselves alone and in difficult circumstances when their husbands divorced them to marry younger women. That created a second large group of angry women, and 1970s feminism was off to the races.”

Mary Ann Glendon, writing on “The Women of Roe v. Wade,” in the June/July issue of First Things

The weird turn pro

“No one can accuse [Hunter S.] Thompson of not living his philosophy: ‘When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.’ …

“Reviewers have despairingly characterized Thompson’s persona as a coked-out prophet in the Book of Revelation, a hillbilly bookworm on speed, a psychopath with an arsenal of high-powered weapons, a paranoid gun junkie, a womanizer, a drunk and worse. While all these descriptions are provable in various degrees, the truth is far weirder: most of the time Hunter Thompson is a strangely modest man, a serious thinker, a great wit, a superb satirist and a sports fan. He is 60-something, and he grew up, as I did, at a time when the greatest American writers were remote and powerful figures. …

“He chose for his first book-length subject the Hell’s Angels motorcyclists. He rode with them, chronicled their lives and their customs. They were an outlaw tribe, living at the edge of society, and he identified with their need for space, their love of binges and their hatred of authority.”

Paul Theroux, writing on “The Honest Outlaw,” Saturday in the Guardian

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