- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Not on Facebook

”Time magazine recently declared Facebook more popular than porn. But who are they kidding? Facebook is porn. With porn, you watch other people take off their clothes and abase themselves in public. On Facebook, where there’s technically an anti-nudity policy (thus defeating the whole purpose of the Internet), you get to figuratively do the same.

”By now, the horror stories are legion. … [But] the reason to hate Facebook is because of the stultifying mind-numbing inanity of it all, the sheer boredom.

”If Facebook helps put together streakers with voyeurs, the streakers, for the most part, after shedding their trench coats, seem to be running around not with taut and tanned hard-bodies, but in stained granny panties with dark socks. They have a reality-show star’s unquenchable thirst for broadcasting all the details of their lives, no matter how unexceptional those details are. They do so in the steady, Chinese-water-torture drip of status updates. The very fact that they are on the air (or rather, on Facebook) has convinced them that every facet of their life must be inherently interesting enough to alert everyone to its importance.”

- Matt Labash, writing on “Down with Facebook,” in the March 16 issue of the Weekly Standard

The comeback

”Last week, America greeted the news that hip-pop princess Rihanna was headed for reconciliation with boyfriend Chris Brown. This was the same Chris Brown, for those not keeping track, as the dumb brute who (allegedly) punched in her face like a ripe fruit during a pre-Grammy altercation, rendering her unable to perform and an object of public humiliation.

”But in an emotionally and intellectually enlightened era such as our own, humiliation is to be overcome whatever the cost, and our favorite celebs have money and youth to burn. ‘Domestic violence experts said they were dismayed, but not surprised,’ the Daily News reported. ‘Yet they remained concerned what message this would send to the 21-year-old “Umbrella” singer’s fans.’

“No message they haven’t already heard elsewhere - or, indeed, a pessimist might object, most anywhere. … So Rihanna tops the pops with a song called ‘Rehab,’ and Pink, another of the new-model starlets who’s both hypermasculine and hyperfeminine, cuts a video for ‘Sober’ (notice a pattern?) that climaxes in a rough, heartless makeout scene between Pink and - Pink. With self-abuse like this, who needs boyfriends?”

- James Poulos, writing on “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” on March 6 at the American Spectator

Both pro and con

”Anyone can make a list of the many catastrophic adaptations they have seen. … But adaptation can be a creative as well as a destructive force. … I’m currently teaching a course that highlights some of the instances in which fine books have been adapted into fine films - Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence mutated into Martin Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence; Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s portrait of Sicily in 1860, The Leopard, turned into Luchino Visconti’s greatest film; Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood became a wonderful John Huston movie; and, in his film of Great Expectations, [David] Lean produced a classic that can stand alongside the Dickens novel without any sense of inferiority. …

”The question raised by the adaptive excesses of Adaptation is the question at the heart of the entire subject of adaptation - that is to say, the question of essence. ‘Poetry is what gets lost in translation,’ said Robert Frost, but Joseph Brodsky retorted: ‘Poetry is what is gained in translation’, and the battle-lines could not be more clearly drawn.

”My own view has always been that whether we are talking about a poem moving across a language border to become another poem in another tongue, a book crossing the frontier between the world of print and celluloid, or human beings migrating from one world to another, both Frost and Brodsky are right. Something is always lost in translation; and yet something can also be gained.”

- Salman Rushdie, writing on “A Fine Pickle,” on Feb. 28 at the Guardian

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