- The Washington Times - Monday, October 2, 2006

Glamour heroes

“When ‘Superman’ debuted in 1978, it invented a whole new movie genre — and a new kind of cinematic magic. Today, hundreds of millions of dollars depend on the heroic box-office performances of costumed crusaders whom Hollywood once thought worthy only of kiddie serials or campy parodies. The two ‘Spider-Man’ movies rank among the top ten of all time for gross domestic receipts, and ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’ and ‘Superman Returns’ are among this year’s biggest hits.

“Superhero comics have been around since Irving Thalberg and Louis B. Mayer ruled the back lot, but only recently has Hollywood realized the natural connection between superhero comics and movies. It’s not just that both are simultaneously visual and verbal media; that formal connection would apply equally to the “serious” graphic novels and sequential art that want nothing to do with crime fighters in form-fitting outfits. Cinema isn’t just a good medium for translating graphic novels. It’s specifically a good medium for superheroes. On a fundamental, emotional level, superheroes, whether in print or on film, serve the same function for their audience as Golden Age movie stars did for theirs: they create glamour.”

—Virginia Postrel, writing on “Superhero Worship,” in the October issue of the Atlantic


Forced ‘choice’

“On Sept. 15, the 19-year-old girl Katelyn Kampf … phoned police from a shopping center in Salem, N.H. She wanted to report a kidnapping: her own.

“Two things transformed this from the local crime of the week into a larger story. First, she was allegedly abducted by her own parents. Second, and more important, was the reason for the abduction. Her parents wanted to force her to have an abortion.

“Upon learning that their daughter was about five months pregnant with the child of one Reme Johnson, Lola and Nicholas Kampf ordered her to abort.

“There’s been a lot of speculation about why they did this but here are the facts: Johnson was black and serving a six-month sentence for possession of a stolen weapon; Katelyn had dropped out of Boston College, probably because of the pregnancy. …

“A Boston Globe news report tried to frame the story by explaining, ‘Katelyn Kampf did not subscribe to her parents’ vision for her life.’

“Maybe — just maybe — that was because she didn’t believe her life was the only one that mattered.”

—Jeremy Lott, writing on “Kampf Culture,” Sept. 25 in the American Spectator Online at www.spectator.org

Historic ignorance

“Do our colleges and universities provide their students the American history and constitutional understanding needed to make them strong and responsible citizens?

“A study … by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute … concludes that ‘America’s colleges and universities fail to increase knowledge about America’s history and institutions.’ …

“So what should be done about our colleges’ failure to offer sound educational courses on America’s constitutional republic? Obviously they must improve the quantity and quality of their teaching, and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute recommends building ‘centers of academic excellence on college and university campuses for the teaching of America’s history and institutions.’

“That would help people become, as Jefferson put it, ‘enlightened enough to exercise their control’ over governmental matters.”

—Pete du Pont, writing on “What Do You Know?” Wednesday in Opinion Journal at www.opinionjournal.com

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