- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 8, 2005

Martha and us

“[I]sn’t Martha Stewart a tyrannical perfectionist who wants women to stay at home and not have jobs, so they can make pristinely decorated cakes in the shape of Easter eggs and Halloween pumpkins?

“Or, worse yet, isn’t she a demanding witch who expects women with full-time jobs to bake those very same cakes, while also remembering to scent their ironing … with lavender water and change the potpourri sachets in their lingerie drawers at the recommended intervals (every three months, at least)? Isn’t she trying to wrest women back into the one dreaded role — that of domestic homebody — we’ve worked so hard to wriggle out of?

“The answer to all of those questions should now be clearer than ever: Not even Martha Stewart can be Martha Stewart. So why should any of us care if we can’t make the grade, either? …

“The point is that our feelings about Martha’s perfection say more about us than they do about her.”

Stephanie Zacharek, writing on “Martha-hater, heal thyself,” March 4 in Salon at www.salon.com

America the tough

“‘You’re fired!’ may be the money phrase on the Donald Trump reality series ‘The Apprentice,’ but it’s not the show’s key locution. That honor goes to the word ‘tough.

“‘They’re tough,’ the Donald says, nodding toward two Barbie-blondes among the … 20- and 30-somethings competing to win a job running one of Trump’s businesses. … ‘New York is the toughest place on earth,’ America’s favorite billionaire warns. … And Trump delivers innumerable variations on the theme: ‘It’s the meanest city in the world, it’s the most vicious city in the world. … This jungle of Manhattan is the real jungle; you have to fight for a cup of coffee here, for God’s sake.’ …

“America’s cowboy capitalism asks its worker-citizens to be hardworking, self-motivated, innovative, and, surprising as it may strike its critics, civil. It’s a system that has enlarged its participants’ sense of opportunity.

“Sure, only two or three kids per generation can grow up to be president, but anyone with discipline, ambition, and a sense of adventure can aspire to be an entrepreneur.

“But you know what? It’s also tough.”

Kay S. Hymowitz, writing on “Capitalists on Steroids,” in the winter issue of City Journal

Eternal ‘Rebel’

“When Warner Bros. released ‘Rebel Without a Cause,’ barely a week after [James] Dean’s death [in 1955], the publicity focused on him. In spite of mixed reviews for the film, Dean was uniformly praised. …

“[T]he movie was the second-biggest moneymaker for Warner Bros. that year. … Even after Dean’s death, the studio continued to receive 2,000 letters a week addressed to the star. …

“The impact of the movie was immediate, unleashing knife fights and ‘chickie run’ enactments around the world among teenagers, who felt that ‘Rebel’ spoke for them. The film was censored in London. …

“Filmmakers continue to pay homage to the movie, especially the ‘chickie run’ scene, in which Dean and Corey Allen (as Buzz, the knife-wielding gang leader) drag race to the edge of a cliff.”

Sam Kashner, writing on “Dangerous Talents,” in the March issue of Vanity Fair

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