Thursday, November 11, 2004

Voyeuristic novel

“[Tom] Wolfe’s new novel, ‘I Am Charlotte Simmons,’ … offers a leering expose of the sexual shenanigans of undergraduates, seen through the innocent eyes of a scholarship student from Appalachia, freshman Charlotte Simmons. … Charlotte is beautiful, poor, and virginal; she is also dazzlingly brilliant (in one episode, she confounds a professor by writing the first persuasive refutation of Darwin). …

“But what can be expected when a novelist in his 70s (Wolfe is 73) takes on the subject of undergraduate life? Mainly voyeurism. …

“Titillated by the sexual revolution that has arrived on campus since his own student days, Wolfe totally misses the feminist revolution that has given us so many more women students, faculty members, deans, and presidents.”

Elaine Showalter, writing on “Peeping Tom’s Juvenile Jaunt,” in the Nov. 12 issue of the Chronicle Review

Gangsta games

“Once upon a time, football fields, racetracks, and dragon-infested dungeons ruled the video game universe. Now the hot virtual locale is the hood.

“Urban fantasies like Rockstar Games’ ‘Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas’ are grabbing a real chunk of the $10 billion gaming market. Why? One reason: Video games have finally grown up. For 20-somethings, that means party time at the PlayStation2. For parents, it means having to read the ratings on the boxes. And for game designers, it means upping the thrills while thinking through some issues of conscience.

“More and more, the thrills are coming from gangsta hip-hop culture; ‘Grand Theft Auto’ and street-life titles like the upcoming ‘25 to Life’ … and ‘Fear and Respect’ … tap into rap’s stories, settings and music. …

“‘GTA: San Andreas,’ a gleefully gritty carjacking adventure, takes good life to new extremes and is destined to be a retail monster. … Indeed the game plays like the most shocking N.W.A. lyrics come to life, with gamers able to manipulate a black man through pseudo-West Coast cities, ducking drive-bys, beating innocents bloody for cash, and ‘parking’ with prostitutes.”

Neil Drumming, writing on “For Adults Only,” in the Nov. 12 issue of Entertainment Weekly

Contempt for faith

“Hollywood rarely misses a chance to ridicule Christians or denigrate their faith. The pathetic comedy “Saved,” just released on video and DVD — which is set in a Christian academy and makes religious kids look like Nazi nincompoops — is the most recent example of Hollywood’s contempt for Christians and their values.

“But when devout Catholic Mel Gibson made a movie celebrating his faith (‘The Passion’), both the producer and his work were subjected to withering attacks — including charges of anti-Semitism — by critics and commentators. …

“Christians would have to be masochistic not to revolt against this constant abuse, and totally lacking in discernment not to see it all leading to a nation where faith is marginalized, humanistic values are enshrined in government and the culture, and hate-crimes laws are used to punish dissent.”

Don Feder, writing on “Christians Eat Lions in 2004,” Tuesday in Front Page at

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