- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Media ‘courage’

“Boy, those TV people are nervy, aren’t they? I mean, this year’s Super Bowl [commercials] featured a man and woman simulating sexual intercourse on an airplane, and a 12-year-old girl discussed married sex with her mother. Takes guts, doesn’t it?

“And the newspapers — they’re just incredible, huh? The New York Times has risked its neck by revealing that the Bush administration has been monitoring overseas phone calls. …

“Yes, there’s nothing our good old courageous media won’t tackle, is there?

“Well, yes there is. It turns out not a single TV network and only two newspapers — the New York Sun and the Philadelphia Enquirer — have dared publish the dozen Danish cartoons that have set off riots around the world. …

“Whence this newfound humility? Well, everybody’s mumbling something about ‘respect for religion’ and ‘not wanting to offend anybody,’ but the real reason is transparent. They’re scared to death. Publishing portraits of rock stars posing as Jesus or putting naked movie stars on the cover of Vanity Fair — that’s easy. Only a bunch of hillbillies down in Arkansas will be offended. But publishing a cartoon of Mohammed with a bomb in his turban — now that’s different. … Agitprop about freedom of the press is one thing; doing something dangerous is another.”

— William Tucker, writing on “Standing Up To Terror,” Monday in the American Enterprise Online at www.taemag.com

Gen-X memory

“Last month marked the 20th anniversary of the Challenger space shuttle disaster and, mercifully, the mass media was otherwise preoccupied, for better or worse (mostly the latter) to conduct a national day of mourning. I did read one elegy, however, a piece by San Francisco writer Kevin Smokler that ran in the Feb. 3 Baltimore Sun, which tinkered with a few brain waves in my head.

“Headlined, ‘The day that Gen X grew up,’ Smokler’s first sentence alone is a doozy: ‘It was 20 years ago this week that my generation, the Xers of slacking, hip-hop and dot-com foolery, stopped being children.’ … I don’t mean to minimize the Challenger fiasco … but for Smokler to claim that an entire generation came of age on that day is simply absurd. …

“Actually, I’d bet that the 1994 suicide of Kurt Cobain had a lot more impact on Generation X than the Challenger’s loss.”

— Russ Smith, writing on “How Many Times Can You Grow Up?” in the Feb. 8 issue of the New York Press

Pandering

“Let us now ponder the mystery of Steve Martin’s career. In the past decade or so, it’s diverged into two discrete and contradictory channels: There’s Steve Martin the auteur … and Steve Martin the lowbrow, the shameless purveyor of [movies] like ‘Cheaper by the Dozen,’ Parts 1 and 2, ‘Father of the Bride,’ Parts 1 and 2, or ‘Bringing Down the House,’ the Martin/Queen Latifah race comedy, which has mercifully stopped at Part 1 (so far.)

“A colleague of mine tells me that his 6-year-old daughter, who’s very keen to see Martin’s latest comedy, ‘The Pink Panther,’ refers to it as ‘The Pink Pander.’ The kid displays remarkable critical acumen. …

“Except in one scene … Martin wisely curbs the temptation to impersonate Sellers. But he also fails to offer anything new, any reason to resurrect the series or the character, beyond the desire to scare up a few laughs and, I guess, forklifts of cash.”

— Dana Stevens, writing on “The Death of Inspector Clouseau,” Friday in Slate at www.slate.com

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