- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Public pain

“Films, TV programs and books claim that privacy is a ‘sham’ or a ‘cloak,’ clung to by certain people who want to hide their real lives and the apparently toxic emotions that dominate their lives. Forget privacy, we are told — instead we should reveal to the world our pain and emotions.

“The public confession, especially on a reality-TV program or in an ‘Oprah’ or ‘Dr. Phil’-style confessional format, is celebrated as an act of bravery these days. Those who prefer to keep their problems to themselves are stigmatized as being ‘in denial’; the stiff upper lip is seen less as a virtue and more as a sign that one must have a mental health problem.

“The metaphor of the dreaded closed door sums up today’s suspicious attitude towards private encounters. …

” ‘Raising awareness’ about the danger of the closed door captures society’s lack of trust in one-to-one relations. The academic and political discussions of family life as potentially violent and disgusting has given rise to today’s outpouring of pornographic abuse-memories that now top the bestseller lists.”

— Frank Furedi, writing on “An emotional striptease,” May 17 in Spiked at www.spiked-online.com

Reagan vs. RFK

“On May 15, 1967, there was a fascinating debate between California’s new Republican governor, Ronald Reagan, and New York’s new Democratic senator, Robert F. Kennedy. The subject: the Vietnam War. The debate … was billed by CBS as a ‘Town Meeting of the World.’ … The debate was watched by a huge audience: 15 million Americans.

“There was total agreement, including among media sources who revered Bobby Kennedy … that Reagan overwhelmingly won the debate. ‘To those unfamiliar with Reagan’s big-league savvy,’ reported Newsweek, ‘the ease with which he fielded questions about Vietnam may have come as a revelation.’ …

“David Halberstam acknowledged that ‘the general consensus’ was that ‘Reagan … destroyed him.’ …

“Alarmed viewers looking for a defense of the United States as anything other than history’s greatest purveyor of global misery were frustrated by Kennedy’s lame responses but buoyed by Reagan’s strong retorts.”

— Paul Kengor, writing on “The Great Forgotten Debate,” Tuesday at NationalReview.com

Smug ‘Sicko’

” ‘Sicko’ isn’t a bad film, exactly, but anyone who’s seen even one of Michael Moore’s previous screed-cum-documentaries could probably give a fairly accurate summary of its content, sight unseen. As in ‘Fahrenheit 9/11,’ Moore leans heavily on admittedly affecting but patently manipulative sob stories. …

“Also, I must say that I’m starting to sympathize with the anti-Moore faction. Late in ‘Sicko,’ Moore reveals, with audible self-satisfaction, that he anonymously sent $12,000 to pay medical expenses for the wife of Jim Kenefick, the guy who runs the anti-Moore Web site Moorewatch.com. Which seems like a remarkably generous and altruistic act, until it dawns on you that its primary purpose was to make Moore look remarkably generous and altruistic, since his ‘anonymous’ donation is now the last-laugh climax of a major motion picture.”

— Mike D’Angelo, writing on “Cannes Report” on Sunday at the Screen Grab blog at www.nervepop.com

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