Life v. Art

David Edelstein and Nell Minow

Life v. Art

David Edelstein and Nell Minow

Life v. Art
An email conversation about the news of the day.
July 28 1998 4:54 PM

David Edelstein and Nell Minow

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David,

CNN reports that Monica Lewinsky and her mother now have "broad" immunity agreements. You asked how I'd advise the President. It's been a long time since I pretended to practice law, but I think my advice would be to admit it, pardon everyone going back to Susan McDougal, and get on with it. I admit it, I am a huge Clinton fan. I once caused stunned silence at a Washington dinner party by saying that I would find it difficult to support a candidate who committed adultery, and still feel that way. In addition to everything else it is just so stupid and self-destructive. But let's have a sense of perspective. This is not trading arms for hostages or taking illegal campaign contributions or playing dirty tricks on political opponents. The irony is that all of those scandals have created this Frankenstein. The independent counsel was supposed to be independent of partisanship, not of reason, accountability, or integrity. The best news on this subject I've heard in the last week was the suggestion that an independent counsel might be appointed to investigate Starr. I'd like to see him get one just like him. By the way, we should mention that he says his inspiration is none other than Atticus Finch, as played by Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird. I wish life did imitate art in this case.

Please, let's return to the back of the book. Time magazine has a correction noting that the Excite executives it wrote about earlier measure their wealth in millions, not billions. I suspect that those who read the article when it came out are so numbed by the Internet numbers that they barely noticed. After all, next year it just might be billions. Time also reports on a hot new baby boomer trend--vacationing in a monastery, which now have waiting lists as long as a year for "a hard single bed with threadbare sheets in a sweltering, non-air-conditioned room; a warped desk that would be rejected by Motel 6; and simple meals like baked beans or tuna casserole." The monks say they are trying to "keep the growing horde down to the true spiritual seekers, not just vacationers at Club God." I guess my reaction to this is that the alligators of the mind may have to be fed, but so does the black hole of the spirit. Time also has two movie-related stories that I'd like to hear your views on. The first touts Blockbuster's robust return to profitability, primarily by guaranteeing customers that they will be able to get the latest releases. I am always happy to see people watching movies (and I'm glad I'll be sure of getting Amistad later this week), and I am always happy to see companies turning around, but I wish it didn't mean a narrower selection, and fewer of the classics and oddballs that I love to share with people. The second covers Hollywood's new teen stars (basically, the cast of the Kevin Williamson movies), explaining that in addition to attracting that key audience (teens are the only group willing to pay to see a movie twice while it is still in theaters), they work cheap (no percentage of the gross). Result: studio executives are "casting young," asking if scripts written for people in their 40s can be rewritten for people in their 20s. Stories like Dangerous Liaisons, Lysistrata, and Taming of the Shrew are being re-written in high school settings. If Ken Starr's role model is Gregory Peck, just think what these movies will inspire!

David Edelstein is Slate's film critic. Nell Minow's reviews of movies and videos appear on her Movie Mom Web page. Her book The Movie Mom's Guide to Family Movies is forthcoming.