- The Washington Times - Monday, November 6, 2006

Desensitized

“The genius of Borat is how the character exploits our country’s obsession with conflict-avoidance and multicultural tolerance. It’s a shiv to the guts of appeasement, and it just might be the best — and certainly the funniest — deconstruction of American pretensions ever made. …

“When it comes to exploring uncharted lands of awkwardness and vulgarity, this is the lunar landing. Free-speech absolutists will set up elaborate shrines to this film. Teenagers will sneak past movie-theater ticket takers. Concerned mothers will wonder what the world is coming to. And audiences everywhere will convulse in fits of pained laughter.

“Watching the movie is like taking an 89-minute cultural-desensitization course. You walk in with your mores, tastes, and air of civility comfortably intact, but when you emerge you no longer have any idea of what’s acceptable.”

— Peter Suderman, writing on “Learning from the Culture,” Friday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

Mugabe’s ‘tsunami’

“A tsunami has rolled through Zimbabwe, different from the tidal waves that hit Asia in 2004. Ours came last year, in the form of bulldozers and soldiers. Vibrant towns were reduced to flat and desolate grounds. More than 700,000 people lost their homes and livelihood. Why?

“President Robert Mugabe thought that the poor people who lived in these urban areas represented a political threat. … So he launched a pre-emptive strike against those already suffering under his policies. He called it ‘Operation Murambatsvina,’ literally “Operation Clear the Filth’ — the ‘filth’ being hundreds of thousands of Zimbabwean men, women and children who were internally displaced, many of whom continue to live without access to humanitarian assistance today.

“Zimbabwe was once a success story in Africa, but over his long rule Mr. Mugabe has dragged us all down. …

“Responding to the arrest and torture of 15 trade-union activists in September, he said ‘some are crying that they were beaten. Yes, you will be thoroughly beaten.’ ”

— Arnold Tsunga, writing on “Yes, You Will Be Thoroughly Beaten,” yesterday in Opinion Journal at www.opinionjournal.com

Celebrity tales

“So lucrative has the celebrity children’s book business become that the children’s sections of book shops are awash with actors, pop singers and politicians, even an alleged mobster, all trying to grab their market share. …

“Currently selling briskly in both the UK and America are kids’ books by Paul McCartney, Julie Andrews, Kylie Minogue and … Madonna. Add them all up and this starts to look not so much as a phenomenon as a stampede. …

“It is scary because it suggests that celebrities believe the hype about their own abilities. Worse, it implies a depth of public obsession about the famous that is even more extreme than we realize. It is one thing to want to know which celebrity is sleeping with which, who has fallen out with whom, the stuff and nonsense of tabloid prurience. But to want to listen in to the most intimate bedtime stories told by a celebrity to her or his child, irrespective of their worth, is bordering on the weird.”

— Ed Pilkington, writing on “Once upon a time,” Friday in the Guardian


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