- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 12, 2006

Spielberg’s ‘outburst’

“‘So many fundamentalists in my own community, the Jewish community, have grown very angry at me for allowing the Palestinians simply to have dialogue and for allowing Tony Kushner to be the author of that dialogue.’ Thus did a self-pitying Steven Spielberg … explain the opposition to ‘Munich.’ Fundamentalists! Is there any greater curse? And those who admired ‘Munich,’ they are — what? Rationalists? Progressives? Children of light? Since I was one of the children of darkness who wrote cruelly about the film, and since I do not take kindly to being called a fundamentalist, theologically or politically, a few more cruel words may be in order. For Spielberg’s outburst confirms my view that he is an intellectually confused individual, and that his confusion, like his cinematic work, is standard-issue Hollywood. …

“One of the comedies of Jewish life in America in recent decades has been the emergence of Steven Spielberg as a figure of Jewish authority. He owes this unexpected status to two things: ‘Schindler’s List’ and personal philanthropy. …

“Steven Spielberg may be the most powerful man in Hollywood, and on some of the most urgent matters of our time the least interesting.”

— Leon Wieseltier, writing on “Even Steven,” Feb. 2 in the New Republic Online at www.tnr.com

Forgotten casualties

“On September 11, 2001, terrorists hijacked four large airliners. Two crashed into New York’s World Trade Center towers, one smashed into the Pentagon, and one, in which the passengers rebelled, crashed into a field. About 3,000 people perished. President Bush went on television and proclaimed, ‘We are at war!’ …

“That same day, September 11, about 4,000 unborn babies were aborted in the United States, 4,000 the day after, and another 4,000 more the day after that, so that about 6 million have been killed since September 11, 6 million who would have been American-born … citizens. …

“[N]ot one of those politicians who so vigorously criticize the loss of troops in Iraq mentions the daily ‘termination, safely and legally’ of so many more developing lives in America. Do they not know? Do they not care?”

— Harold O.J. Brown, writing on “The Mental Guillotine and Abortion,” in the December issue of the Religion and Society Report

Grammy meaning

“‘I don’t know what this means,’ said Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, accepting the 1996 Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance. ‘I don’t think it means anything.’ As acceptance speeches go, it’s more or less what you’d expect from a grunge-rock god. …

“Probably the most ubiquitous complaint against prizes like the Grammys (and the Oscars and the Pulitzers) is that they sully the arts, reducing them to sports-style contests with winners and losers. …

“Despite what Eddie Vedder says, the Grammys have plenty of real-world meaning. They can propel a musician … to superstardom, boost CD sales by millions of copies, and give a jolt of life to a moribund record industry. More important, they speak to musicians’ competitive drive, providing the recognition and affirmation that all performing artists seek, even those who mumble disclaimers into their flannel shirts. If the Grammy really didn’t ‘mean anything’ to Vedder, why did he bother showing up to accept it?”

— Jody Rosen, writing on “The Grammy Paradox,” Wednesday in Slate at www.slate.com

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