- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Young genius

“Orson Welles — the most notorious young overachiever of the last century — came to consider his own precocity a curse. It was as if he had mortgaged his future by impatiently speeding in advance through the ages of man. He began playing King Lear … when he was 10. … But the improvident, unreliable boy wonder soon exasperated his bosses, who saw to it that Welles had no chance to sustain his early successes. …

“Self-destruction might have been a shrewder move, as it was for James Dean, who died in a car crash at the age of 24, after a film career that had lasted only 16 months; the accident immortalized him. …

“Our society still worships youth, but the nubile freshness it markets has a merely commercial allure. …

“We are stalled in a state of permanent adolescence; the economy relies on the avidity of teenage consumers who have to be tantalized with a fresher face every few months. Adolescent celebrities are obsolete by their early 20s.”

Peter Conrad, writing on “20-20 vision,” Sunday in the British newspaper the Guardian

Judging not

“Augustine would make a great talk show guest. His ‘Confessions’ stands as a fourth-century memoir of his life makeover through God’s spiritual fitness program. …

” ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ is renowned as a place of confession. … Fans say they appreciate that Oprah is an open, nonjudgmental listener as she hears from a wide range of guests. …

“Oprah is steering the audience to the place of nonjudgment. She speaks for the audience, which represents public opinion. She may anticipate or voice a judgment her audience might make, ask questions they might have about a behavior. But she also shapes her viewers’ views. Oprah is hardly alone in this softening of strict judgment. … Nonjudgmentalism pervades much of religion in this country today. …

“Religion’s idea of sin has been replaced by the idea of a nurturing God — God lite — who will understand, accept and ultimately forgive all.”

Marcia Z. Nelson, in her new book, “The Gospel According to Oprah”

Infamous fugitive

“On a London morning in mid-July, a week and a half after the transit bombings, I found myself in … the Royal Courts of Justice as Vanity Fair defended itself in a libel action brought by the film director Roman Polanski, a fugitive from American justice who has been living in France for the past 27 years. That an American magazine could be brought to trial in an English court by a man who resides in France is one of the many vagaries of the British legal system. …

“In early 1977, Polanski, then 43, had been hired to photograph some girls for a French fashion magazine. He was directed to one young girl, whom he met … in Los Angeles. The girl was 13. …

“Polanski was indicted on six counts — including sodomy and rape by use of drugs. He spent a total of 42 days in jail … before fleeing the country in fear of a stiff prison sentence. …

“The final word on the case belonged to Samantha Geimer, the woman who said Polanski had raped and sodomized. Now a married mother of three and living in Hawaii, she had her own opinion of the verdict. ‘The libel case makes no sense,’ she told the Mirror. ‘Surely a man like this hasn’t got a reputation to tarnish?’ ”

Graydon Carter, writing on “Roman Holiday,” in the October issue of Vanity Fair


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