- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 10, 2005

A key battle?

“Does ‘Million Dollar Baby’s mini-sweep [of the Academy Awards] signify a victory for the left in the culture wars?

“Certainly the controversy surrounding the movie during the build-up to the Oscars might suggest that. But it’s not quite accurate. …

“It’s actually the left that framed the film as if it were a key battle in the culture war, acting as if anyone who takes issue with its message wants to ban the movie from theaters or run [Clint] Eastwood out of the country. Mr. Eastwood made a sad, hopeless (if elegantly directed) film that ultimately denigrates the value of human life. …

“Mr. Eastwood has every right to tell the stories he chooses; Hollywood seems to have forgotten that audiences have the same right to reject them.”

Andrew Coffin, writing on “Bringing up ‘Baby,’ ” in the March 12 issue of World

Porn ‘liberation’

“[Revenues from pay-per-view and video-on-demand adult movies have quadrupled since the late 1990s as cable operators have started airing more explicit erotic material.

“… Movies like ‘Boogie Nights’ and the recent documentary ‘Inside Deep Throat’ have portrayed the adult industry as an enclave for good-hearted, rough-edged misfits and cultural freedom fighters. Last fall the memoir of porn superstar Jenna Jameson spent a month and a half on the New York Times bestseller list. …

“In response, a predictable political debate has emerged, with cultural conservatives standing athwart the tide yelling ‘Stop!’ while left-leaning civil libertarians brandish the First Amendment. But there’s a voice that’s been conspicuously absent in the current debate: anti-pornography feminists. …

“[T]oday … it’s easy to forget that the most powerful anti-pornography legislation ever passed in this country was written not by cultural conservatives, but radical feminists led by legal scholar Catharine A. MacKinnon and author Andrea Dworkin. …

“In 1974, the writer and activist Robin Morgan had put it most starkly: ‘Pornography is the theory, rape is the practice.’ …

“These days, ‘sex-positive’ feminists like Laura Kipnis or Camille Paglia tend to get the airtime. And in the universities, women’s studies scholars are more likely to do close readings of the aesthetics and politics of pornography than to march in favor of banning it. …

“Starting in the late 1980s, some feminist scholars … began to see porn as a tool that women could appropriate to liberate themselves from patriarchal norms of behavior and beauty.”

Drake Bennett, writing on “X-ed out,” Sunday in the Boston Globe

Network mammoths

“In 1980, 75 percent of televisions in use during the dinner hour were airing an evening news broadcast from one of three networks. By 2003, the number was down to 40 percent.

“Of the three retreating network mammoths, CBS has stumbled the worst. Dan Rather’s ‘CBS Evening News’ show has finished a distant third during most ratings periods since 1993. …

“Granted, Rather’s … so unpopular that there are probably more Arizona Cardinals fans than Rather fans. But is the failure of the ‘CBS Evening News’ all his fault? … CBS helped dig the ditch Dan vacates this week, one so deep that not even Walter Cronkite could have climbed out of it.”

Jack Shafer, writing on “CBS, What Is the Frequency?” Monday in Slate at www.slate.com

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