- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 21, 2003

‘Junk politics’

“The American democratic ideal called for universal, informed participation in the public square: acquaintance with the skills of argument, familiarity with standards of coherence, brains. The embrace by those in high office of dim-bulb diffidence tropes — macho brandishing of ignorance — trashes that ideal and draws down added contempt on political vocation.

“Junk politics redefines qualifications for high political office; the chosen tropes celebrate pugnacity and eagerness to take on bullies. By any measure the most popular current political gesture is that of defiance. Defiance of what? Excessive specificity not required.”

Benjamin DeMott, writing on “Junk Politics,” in the November issue of Harper’s

Eros diluted

“For most of human history, erotic images have been reflections of, or celebrations of, or substitutes for, real naked women. For the first time in human history, the images’ power and allure have supplanted that of real naked women. Today, real naked women are just bad porn. …

“For two decades, I have watched young women experience the continual ‘mission creep’ of how pornography — and now Internet pornography — has lowered their sense of their own sexual value and their actual sexual value. …

“Well, I am 40, and mine is the last female generation to experience that sense of sexual confidence and security in what we had to offer. Our younger sisters had to compete with video porn in the ‘80s and ‘90s. … Pornography is addictive; the baseline gets ratcheted up. …

“The young women who talk to me on campuses about the effect of pornography on their intimate lives speak of feeling that they can never measure up, that they can never ask for what they want; and that if they do not offer what porn offers, they cannot expect to hold a guy. …

“The evidence is in: Greater supply of the stimulant equals diminished capacity. …

“The ubiquity of sexual images does not free eros but dilutes it.”

Naomi Wolf, writing on “The Porn Myth,” in the Oct. 20 issue of New York

Rock, R.I.P.

“Rock is dead. But ‘School of Rock’ would have you believe otherwise. …

“Where is the humor in the plot of a teacher encouraging kids to goof off? Everyone knows that the American education system has failed the younger generation for several decades now. It’s hard to believe that reviewers ignore this fact; they celebrate the sham mythology that ‘School of Rock’ propagates. Even party people can see that this supposedly feel-good family movie carries insidious notions about pop — integrity, creativity and energy are isolated as the virtues of only one genre. Dewey [Finn, the character of Jack Black,] browbeats his fledglings’ personal taste with idolatry about Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Motorhead — he instills the rockist ideology that, in standard pop publications, has turned popular music into a sinecure for cultural racism. ‘School of Rock’ perverts the radicalism imputed to rock in the ‘60s, pretending All-American exuberance and liberation when it is actually only selling hegemony. …

“Rarely has a movie both bundled up and plainly exposed the scheming machinations of the entertainment industry. … It’s not a comedy, but an institution intended to graduate self-satisfied consumers of trash.”

Armond White, writing on “Rock, Out,” in the Oct. 15 issue of New York Press

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