- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 9, 2005

Reagan’s career

“On Feb. 8, 1950, some of Hollywood’s brightest lights gathered at the Beverly Hills Hotel for the kind of glamorous, star-studded soiree typically held on Academy Awards night. … [T]he event for which Cecil B. DeMille, Harry Cohn, George Burns, Ed Wynn, Jane Wyman and some 600 others turned out had nothing to do with the film industry’s annual awards ceremony. Instead, it was a formal tribute to Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan? The same Ronald Reagan who supposedly had a B-grade movie career and was a failure as a leading man? Why would he be feted with such fanfare, more than 15 years before he was elected governor of California?

“In those days, the view of Reagan was far different from today’s conventional wisdom about his work in Hollywood. …

“Despite Reagan’s enduring popularity with the American people, one would be hard-pressed to find that same sentiment among the arbiters in today’s Hollywood. For decades, Reagan’s career has been marginalized and caricatured by the establishment here as well as in the top film schools. Among those who determine what is deemed worthy of attention and study in film, Reagan is persona non grata.”

— John Meroney, writing on “Night Unto Reagan,” Thursday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

Cultural recipe

“Tradition … is the only possible mode for transmitting a community’s habits of the heart, and it does this by providing the recipe for making the kind of human beings who will viscerally feel and respond to the same habits of the heart as the community to which they belong. …

“To see institutions and traditions as recipes is to grasp at once how pointless it is to debate their truth or falsity. Is Julia Child’s recipe for Bouillabaisse true or false? The question sounds absurd because it is. … How is it possible to devise a neutral method by which to judge which dish or which culture is objectively better?

“Let us grant that this is the case; no one is really in a position to judge fairly whether the cuisine of his own culture is better or worse than that of another. But there is something that everyone can judge for himself — whether he prefers the old recipe for making meatloaf … or the new one.”

— Lee Harris, writing on “The Future of Tradition,” in the June-July issue of Policy Review

Production model

“[T]he super-corporations — Viacom, Disney, News Corporation, Time Warner, General Electric — now own what remains of the old Hollywood studios. … Their main production model was discovered long ago by Walt Disney: find a niche audience (children, in Disney’s case) and be astute about licensing the rights to toys, books, cartoons, and other products that spin off the original movie. George Lucas’s ‘Star Wars’ has acted on that model and created an empire that has struck back again and again — struck the cash register, that is — through lucrative licensing agreements.

“Globalism, whatever else may be said for it, also means lowest-common-denominatorism, and technology plays right into it. … Besides, the global market turns out to be largely the youth, or adolescent, market, and that market, brought up on cartoons, comic books, television, and Nintendo games, is much more interested in spectacle than story, in car crashes than catharsis.”

— Joseph Epstein, writing on “What Happened to the Movies?” in the July-August issue of Commentary

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