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Thursday, July 14, 2005

Of little time and many topics

Quick correction
Larry Savage, editor of the Star-Banner weeklies in Ocala, Fla., e-mailed to tell me that it was not Jodie Foster who starred in the original "Bad News Bears," but Tatum O'Neal. But, of course. So thank you, Larry for sending that along. And thanks for reading.

So many things to write about and so little time.

Judy Miller is still in jail. Karl Rove is still employed. Scott McClellan is (finally) getting battered by White House Press Corps. For great giggles, check out The Daily Show spin. God, I love that Jon Stewart. Too bad I can't hack stayin up that late. Instead I catch him a day later at the dinner hour just before (or maybe it's after) MAD-TV.

Such a quandary. Instead, I'll settle for an abbreviated version of what I was going to write about, which is as follows:

Journalism and patriotism
Charles Madigan wrote a brilliant column in the Chicago Tribune earlier this week. Here's the gist:

The problem conservative critics have with modern news media is the same problem conservative critics have always had with news media.

It's not just that they despise liberals. They do. But I think the whole liberal thing is a ruse.

What they really dislike is journalism.

Truth, unlike spin, is unpatriotic. Or at least that's what many in the current administration would have us believe. Here's Madigan again.

In a democracy based on the thought that an informed electorate will make wise decisions, someone has to point out all of these unpleasant things, just so you know what your government is up to.

I know, it's not happy to hear it. It's not patriotic either.

It is just truth building up over time and playing out in context. If you really long for flag-waving news, go to a parade. But that is not what journalism is about.

Or, if you prefer the Hollywood version:

I'm tired of being labeled anti-American because I ask questions. — Actress Susan Sarandon

Actors as journalists
Speaking of actors, my neighbor gave me a couple issues of a magazine called Interview. The basic premise is that celebrities interview other celebrities in Q and A style.

Some of it is pure dreck. But some of it is quite good. For example, the May cover story on Russell Crowe (Yum!) is "written" by actor Paul Giamatti. Perhaps the better title for this pub is "Conversations," because that's what these really are. Here's an excerpt:

PG: But didn't you like working in secret before? Did you prefer working that way?

A whole part of my creative life has been ruined by becoming famous. I was the prime observer. I was the person who could just slip into any situation, see what I needed to see, and take the information away. But that way of working has been taken from me."

PG: So how do you compensate for that?

You can't. But there are still ways of walking down the street without being recognized—and without getting a false nose or moustache. If you just change your energy, you can sort of get away with it. But you do go from being an observer to being the one who is observed. That's when the whole theory falls apart. But, on the positive side, you get access to better minds. That's one advantage, I think, in the way things have come down for me."

I'm sure the same could be said for writers who have been propelled into fame. One moment they quietly make their living as the observer, the next they are in the spotlight, the monkey in the zoo. I wonder how that affects their creative process and how they compensate.

Bad News Bears
When was the last time you saw the original Walter Matthau / Jodie Foster version of "Bad News Bears?" My husband and I rented it last summer for the boys, thinking fondly on how much we enjoyed the movie.

But what we saw was jarring to say the least. I'm convinced we only saw the scrubbed-up TV version of this movie because the original is pretty bad. There's ample sexual, racial and social stereotyping and overtones, not to mention the whole drunk coach thing.

Now there's a remake starring Billy Bob Thornton. A friend of mine saw the trailer in the theater recently and said there's no way her kids are going to see this movie. "The trailer should have been rated PG-13," she said.

I'm no prude, and neither is she, when it comes to our kids seeing movies, but I have to say the original seemed a dinosaur from another age. Danny and I may have to screen the new version first.

One last thing
My labor of love story on Thomas Merton ran in last week's Catholic Herald in Arlington, Va. Special thanks to my SPJ gal pal and fellow Korean traveler, Ann Augherton for helping me place the story.

1 comment:

Jami said...

great post on an important topic. there's a good bill moyers quote on this.

"That's because the one thing they loathe more than liberals is the truth. And the quickest way to be damned by them as liberal is to tell the truth."