- The Washington Times - Monday, July 25, 2005

‘Shocking decline’

“[T]he mainstream of American movies has been terribly disappointing in recent years. The question that faces anyone who loves the medium is whether this is a cyclical thing — a passing dip, so to speak — or whether there might be something much more worrying. … There has been a big drop-off [in ticket sales] this year. And God knows how much bigger it would have been but for the final ‘Star Wars’ film. … There’s a lot of evidence to suggest two things … that films don’t mean as much to audiences anymore, and that they don’t mean as much to filmmakers anymore, either. …

“You talk to people time and again and you find that they’re coming away from movies disappointed. — People are spending more time looking at old movies on DVD — and I think that’s good because it leads to a sense of the wonders in our [film] library. On the other hand, the more you acquaint yourself with older films, the more shocking the decline appears.”

— David Thomson, interviewed in the June 29 issue of the Minneapolis/St. Paul City Pages

Star complex I

“It is easy to confuse the profoundly troubled soul singer and producer R. Kelly with someone slowly going mad. His seeming descent began in February 2002, when a videotape … confirmed the whispers that had long hazed his brilliant, decade-long career: In clear view, one saw Kelly engaging in fairly extreme sexual relations with a young girl rumored to be 14 years old. The seducer’s reputation went into free fall. … But … the popularity of his music — those obsessively itemized tributes to his own libido — saved him. In the years since … Kelly has only grown more irrational. …

“While the sex tapes scandalized Kelly the man, they had a liberating effect on Kelly the performer: They vouched for his out-there ambitions and confirmed his general freakishness. …

“Is it OK to like someone so cavalier about such serious transgressions? It’s easy to sell controversy, and it’s even easier to play the victim, but Kelly has … invited his fans inside his mania and convinced them to revel in his unhinged odes to sexual healing.”

— Hua Hsu, writing on “The Insanity Plea,” Wednesday in Slate at www.slate.com

Star complex II

“Not content to leave the study of celebrities to tabloid body-language experts, the psychological community is coming to terms with celebrity psychopathology. The modern medical term … is acquired situational narcissism. …

“To a celebrity, narcissism is a rational response to a world that functions as a mirror, amplifying one’s positive self-image, the sense that one is in the absolute center. … Fearful of exposing the real them, narcissists project a glorified self that becomes so ingrained it becomes impossible to tell what’s real and what’s made up. …

“Trapped in their bubble, celebrities experience arrested development. The celebrity becomes an adolescent, a developmental stage that is non-age-specific. …

“Wary of the gap between the false and true self, the star overcompensates by developing a God complex. … The star may be told, like Madonna has been by the rabbis of kabbalah, that she is the reincarnation of Queen Esther.”

— Vanessa Grigoriadis, writing on “Celebrity and Its Discontents,” in the July 25 issue of New York

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