"I'm on top, I'm 35 years old, I don't want to get hurt anymore, and I've got nothing left to prove." Who said this about what?
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Thursday's Question (No. 222)--"Zanimax":
The Iranian daily newspaper Zan (Farsi for "woman") and the American movie company Miramax (English for "Big Mira"?) are in trouble for similar offenses. What?
"Running afoul of parent company Disney."--Michael Fein
"Requesting public information from the city of New York."--Dave Gaffen
"I have no idea what the offense is, but Khomeini is Farsi for 'Weinstein.' "--Adrianne Tolsch
"Forcing women into lesser roles."--Chrysa Kieke-Sciglitano
"Trouble at Zan due to clerics. Trouble at Miramax due to guy who made Clerks."--Cliff Schoenberg
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Foreign magazines sound so deliciously trivial, so delightfully parochial. Zan. It's no Time or Spin or Maxim. That's my delightfully parochial view, an easy one to maintain because here in America we're No. 1--except for education, income, and infant mortality. Do other nations escape this jingoism? Surely neither Belgium nor Belize nor Brunei can assert this sort of claim. But of course they can; every nation can, as long it avoids hard data and stakes its pride on cultural superiority.
Saturday night in New York, the big "Gypsy Caravan" concert presented Romany musicians from six different nations. Musafir, an Indian group, featured a drummer who played unimaginably complex rhythms on a dholak. The Hungarians, Kalyi Jag, featured a drummer who played the milk can. Can the Hungarians really believe it's all culturally relative? Surely the milk can guy wakes up in the middle of the night and admits to himself that the dholak guy is just better.
Of course these kinds of questions always confound me because I'm from a country where Disney owns the evening news and the only compelling rhythm is the beat of my heart when the camera zooms in on Peter Jennings. He articulates so clearly when he speaks of cherry-tree-eating beavers!
Zan and Miramax are in hot water for sassing religion, a serious offense in this, the neo-Middle Ages.
Miramax embarrassed prissy parent company Disney by making Dogma, directed by Kevin Smith (Clerks, Chasing Amy). Everyone involved apologized meekly. "Why make trouble?" asked contrite Miramax boss, Harvey Weinstein. Smith says his movie was "from first to last always intended as a love letter to both faith and God almighty." The movie, featuring Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Alanis Morissette, Selma Hayek, and Chris Rock, will be distributed by some other company so that really gullible people will think Disney had nothing to do with it.
Iranian authorities confiscated copies of Zan after it printed a cartoon showing a thug being asked to kill a woman rather than a man because under Islamic law a woman's "blood money" is half that of a man's. (Blood money is compensation that must be paid to the family of a victim who is murdered or killed in an accident.) Gholamhossein Rahbarpour, head of Iran's Revolutionary Courts, told the Associated Press that Zan insulted Islam because blood money is "one of the main judicial and religious principles of Islam." The paper is banned from publishing until after the case goes to court.
Faraj Balafkan, Zan's editor, is expected to continue her fight for press freedom. Michael Eisner, Disney's chairman, is expected to continue his fight to make as much money as possible.
Last week, participants were invited to invent an organization more soporific than "Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities," a group that ran a policy ad on the op-ed page of Wednesday's New York Times. A few particularly tepid examples:
- "Indiana Dentists for Civic Responsibility."--Neil Pollack
- "The Charles Osgood Appreciation Society."--Tim Carvell
- "The Ya-Ya Sisterhood of Concerned Scientists."--Chris Kelly
- "Citizens Concerned With Environmental Development. (An actual organization.)"--Brian Danenberg
- "Corporate Lawyers Against Unnecessary Integrity."--Francis Heaney
- "Mid-Level Executives at Mid-Cap Companies for Increased Median Compensation."--Michael Connelly
- "http://www.corporatecomedy.com. (An actual Web site.)"--Anonymous
Eastern antipathy toward Salman Rushdie; Western antipathy toward Gwyneth Paltrow.