- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 26, 2003

Ironic cinema

“[I]n a [Quentin] Tarantino movie, it’s better to travel ironically than to arrive. ‘Kill Bill’ is mostly an hommage to Hong Kong kung fu movies, but in the pop-cult cornucopia of Quentin’s brain there’s room for a lot else, too. It’s bloody, but it’s also bloody brilliant. …

“For this director, happiness is just an allusion. … Tarantino is such a master of allusion he can make a movie alluding to stuff nobody has a clue about.

“‘Kill Bill’ plays like a ‘30s musical full of spectacular songs connected by a perfunctory plot. …

“A culture of ironic allusion chases itself in ever decreasing circles. Tarantino is the state of the art, and the state is one of advanced decay.”

Mark Steyn, writing on “Kill Bill Vol. I,” Oct. 18 in the Spectator

Gen X nostalgia

“I love the ‘80s as much as the next tedious member of my generation, formerly known as Gen X and currently known as the Most Pointlessly Nostalgic Generation Ever, but there’s something about VH1’s ‘I Love the ‘80s Strikes Back’ that makes my skin crawl. For a while there, it seemed like no other generation would ever be nearly as self-obsessed as those boomers with their endlessly repeating specials about assassinations, Vietnam, Nixon, LSD and Manson.

“But look at us now, we think we’re sooo cute, humming ‘Hey Mickey’ and telling people their hair makes them look like that one guy from Flock of Seagulls. … It was bad enough when people started having ‘80s theme parties, where they played ‘Jesse’s Girl’ and ‘Pac Man Fever,’ and everyone looked much, much uglier than usual, which is really not the desired effect while socializing. …

“Countless numbers of us were … absolutely foolish to imagine that the consumable goods of our shared past were encoded with mythical powers, treating a hot pink plastic plate from a Barbie Dreamhouse or a gun from a Star Wars action figure … as artifacts. How pathetic and dull are we, anyway, obsessing about bad songs and … toys? I mean, as self-serious and righteous and vaguely uncool as they are, at least the boomers are obsessed with stuff like politics and the Beatles.”

Heather Havrilesky, writing on “I Like to Watch,” Thursday in Salon at www.salon.com

Fickle feminism

“Some found it surprising that one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s most outspoken defenders against charges of groping and harassing women was Susan Estrich, the feminist law professor who has, by her own account, ‘spent much of my professional life fighting to reform the law regarding rape and [to] protect women against sexual harassment.’ …

“As it turns out, Estrich’s unlikely support of Schwarzenegger has a precedent: When Clinton had his difficulties with Paula Jones, Juanita Broderick, Kathleen Willey, Monica Lewinksy, et al., Estrich rallied to his defense. …

“In the early ‘90s the party faithful wore ‘I believe Anita Hill’ buttons. And by the late ‘90s, the party faithful thought a few dirty jokes by the water cooler weren’t such a big deal. …

“What the evolution of Estrich’s views does tell us … is that the kind of burning melodrama that surrounds sexual issues vanishes as quickly as it appears. … It is precisely the opinions that seem the most rigid, absolute and emotional that are subject to the whims of fashion.”

Katie Roiphe, writing on “Susan Estrich,” Thursday in Salon at www.salon.com

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