Go to the link below for more information:
Go to the link below for more information:
BY PEGGY NOONAN
Friday, April 27, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT
This week saw a small and telling controversy involving a mural on the walls of
Roosevelt High School in Los Angeles. The mural is big–400 feet long, 18 feet high at its peak–and eye-catching, as would be anything that “presents a colorful depiction of the rape, slaughter and enslavement of North America’s indigenous people by genocidal Europeans.” Those are the words of the Los Angeles Times’s Bob Sipchen, who noted “the churning stream of skulls in the wake of Columbus’s Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria.”
What is telling is not that some are asking if the mural portrays the Conquistadors as bloodthirsty monsters, or if it is sufficiently respectful to the indigenous Indians of Mexico. What is telling is that those questions completely miss the point and ignore the obvious. Here is the obvious:
The mural is on the wall of a public school. It is on a public street. Children walk by.
We are scaring our children to death. Have you noticed this? And we’re doing it more and more.
Last week of course it was Cho Seung-hui, the mass murderer of Virginia Tech. The dead-faced man with the famous dead-shark eyes pointed his pistols and wielded his hammer on front pages and TV screens all over America.
What does it do to children to see that?
For 50 years in America, whenever the subject has turned to what our culture presents, the bright response has been, “You don’t like it? Change the channel.” But there is no other channel to change to, no safe place to click to. Our culture is national. The terrorizing of children is all over.
Click. Smug and menacing rappers.
Click. “This is Bauer. He’s got a nuke and he’s going to take out Los Angeles.”
Click. Rosie grabs her crotch. “Eat this.”
Click. “Every day 2,000 children are reported missing . . .”
Click. Don Imus’s face.
Click. “Eyewitnesses say the shooter then lined the students up . . .”
Click. An antismoking campaign on local New York television. A man growls out how he felt when they found his cancer. He removes a bib and shows us the rough red hole in his throat. He holds a microphone to it to deliver his message.
Don’t smoke, he says.
This is what TV will be like in Purgatory.
It’s not only roughness and frightening things in our mass media, it’s politics too. Daily alarms on global warming with constant videotape of glaciers melting and crashing into the sea. Anchors constantly asking, “Is there still time to save the Earth? Scientists warn we must move now.” And international terrorism. “Is the Port of Newark safe, or a potential landing point for deadly biological weapons?”
I would hate to be a child now.
Very few people in America don’t remember being scared by history at least to some degree when they were kids. After Pearl Harbor, they thought the Japanese were about to invade
California. If you are a boomer, you remember duck-and-cover drills. The Soviets had the bomb, and might have used it. I remember a little girl bursting into tears during the Cuban Missile Crisis when I was in grade school. But apart from that, apart from that one huge thing, life didn’t seem menacing and full of dread. It was the boring 1950s and ’60s, and the nice thing about a boring era is it’s never boring. Life is interesting enough. There’s always enough to scare a child. But now it’s a million duck-and-cover drills, a thousand alarms, a steady drumbeat of things to fear. Adults have earnest discussions about how more and more of our children are being prescribed antidepressants and antianxiety drugs. What do you think–could there be a connection here?
Why are we frightening our kids like this, with such insensitivity? Part of it is self-indulgence, part of it is profit, but not all of it is malevolent. Some of it is just mindless. Adults forget to think about kids. They forget what it’s like to be a kid.
ABC’s John Stossel is a person in media who knows. He did a piece recently on the public-service announcements warning about child abduction. He asked some children if the warnings worried them. Yes, they said. One little boy told him he worries every night “because I’m asleep and I don’t know what’s gonna happen.”
Children are both brave and fearful. They’ll walk up to a stranger and say something true that a grown-up would fear to say. But they are also subject to terrors, some of them irrational, and to anxieties. They need a stable platform on which to stand. From it they will be likely to step forward into steady adulthood. Without it, they will struggle; they will be less daring in their lives because life, they know, is frightful and discouraging.
We are not giving the children of our country a stable platform. We are instead giving them a soul-shaking sense that life is unsafe, incoherent, full of random dread. And we are doing this, I think, for three reasons.
One is politics–our political views, our cultural views, so need to be expressed and are, God knows, so much more important than the peace of a child. Another is money–there’s money in the sickness that is sold to us. Everyone who works at a TV network knew ratings would go up when the Cho tapes broke.
But another reason is that, for all our protestations about how sensitive we are, how interested in justice, how interested in the children, we are not. We are interested in politics. We are interested in money. We are interested in ourselves.
We are frightening our children to death, and I’ll tell you what makes me angriest. I am not sure the makers of our culture fully notice what they are doing, what impact their work is having, because the makers of our culture are affluent. Affluence buys protection. You can afford to make your children safe. You can afford the constant vigilance needed to protect your children from the culture you produce, from the magazine and the TV and the CD and the radio. You can afford the doctors and tutors and nannies and mannies and therapists, the people who put off the TV and the Internet and offer conversation.
If you have money in America, you can hire people who compose the human chrysalis that protects the butterflies of the upper classes as they grow. The lacking, the poor, the working and middle class–they have no protection. Their kids are on their own. And they’re scared.
Too bad no one cares in this big sensitive country of ours.
Ms. Noonan is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal and author of “John Paul the Great: Remembering a Spiritual Father” (Penguin, 2005), which you can order from the OpinionJournal bookstore. Her column appears Fridays on OpinionJournal.com.
Best known for her portrayals of sultry ladies of the silver screen, Gloria Grahame was born Gloria Hallward in Los Angeles, California. From her birth in 1923, Grahame was groomed to become an actress by her former stage star mother, Jean Grahame.
Grahame so loved the craft that she quit Hollywood High just sort of graduation and made her way to New York. There she appeared in a couple of Broadway plays, and was spotted by MGM studio chief Louis B. Mayer. He signed her to a contract with his studio for $250 a week. Her first real public recognition came from her appearance in “It’s a Wonderful Life” (see below), on loan-out from MGM.
After a short period longer, her contract was sold to RKO, and it was here that she would shoot to stardom. She was nominated for an Oscar 1947 (“Crossfire”) and 1952 (“The Bad and the Beautiful”). It was also during this time period that she would marry and divorce the director Nicolas Ray.
Her career began to slow down in the late 1950s. On-set, she began to get the reputation for being “difficult.” Off-set, she became scandalized after marrying her former stepson, Anthony Ray, her fourth (and final) marriage.
Grahame returned to the New York stage, and died of cancer in October 1981. She was survived by her four children, and her sister Joy, who was also an actress.
“The Big Heat”: I haven’t seen this one in years and years, but “The Big Heat” is one of Gloria Grahame’s best-known performances. Glenn Ford stars as Dave Bannion, a police detective investigating a fellow officer’s suicide. It all seems routine, until someone claiming to have evidence is murdered and he is ordered off the case. When a bomb meant for Bannion kills his wife (Jocelyn Brando), Bannion starts off on a path of vengeance, getting involved along the way with Debby (Grahame), the disfigured ex-mistress of mobster Vince Stone (Lee Marvin). Directed by Fritz Lang, the film is based on a Saturday Evening Post serial.
“The Bad and the Beautiful”: Though a bit dated, The Bad and the Beautiful is an interesting look into the mean world of Hollywood. Told mostly through flashback, a director (Walter Pidgeon), an actress (Lana Turner), and a writer (Dick Powell) remember how uber-producer Jonathan Shields (Kirk Douglas) did them wrong. While it is predominantly Douglas’ film, each story gets an equal amount of time devoted to it. Grahame shines as the writer’s wife, Rosemary, whose brief screentime give the film a good part of its poignancy. This is a nice departure for the actress, as her character is much more of the girl next door type. It won five Oscars in 1953, including a Best Supporting Actress award for Grahame.
“In a Lonely Place”: This is another dated film taking place in Hollywood. Humphrey Bogart stars as a troubled screenwriter who may or may not have murdered a young woman. Grahame co-stars as Laurel, his neighbor and alibi. The two soon begin an ill-fated love affair. As the police investigation continues, Laurel begins to be more and more conflicted over her boyfriend’s supposed innocence. Bogart’s acting is cheesy, but it allows Grahame the chance to steal every scene she’s in.
Charmingly gruff actor Ward Bond made 271 film and television appearances in his thirty-one year career, averaging 10 to twenty films a year (30 in 1935 alone). Quite the illustrious life for the former Benkelman, Nebraska boy. While a student at the University of Southern California, he was a roommate and football teammate of John Wayne, who got him work as an extra. When director John Ford upped Bond from extra to supporting player in Salute, the two became fast friends and would go on to work together 26 more times.
Things got a little complicated when this “ardent but intellectual patriot” became president of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals in the 1940s. The ultra right-wing group’s main platform was the opposition to Communists in the United States, and became a major proponent in the blacklisting of the 1950s. Because of this, many liberal directors worked to keep Bond unemployed. For years he mostly appeared in movies with his buddy John Wayne or other similarly politically-motivated artists. Bond made his comeback, though, in 1957 as Seth Adams in the television show “Wagon Train.” He died in 1960 in a Dallas hotel room while in town to attend a football game.
His friendship with John Wayne was a life-long one. Legend has it that Bond was hit by a car on the way to Wayne’s wedding, got some crutches and performed his best man duties anywayWayne read the eulogy at Bond’s funeral, and was left a shotgun that Bond had accidentally shot him with on a hunting trip many years earlier.
Inducted posthumously into the Western Performers Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, Wardell E. Bond is survived by a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a memorial park in his old hometown.
“The Searchers”: This is one of my favorite films of all time. Ethan Edwards (John Wayne) returns from the Civil War, only to find his family massacred by Indians and his beloved niece, Debbie, kidnapped. He vows to find her and bring her home, aided by his “half-breed” adopted nephew, Martin (Jeffrey Hunter). Their quest takes years, and Martin begins to worry that Ethan may not bring his niece home after all. Common thought at the time was that once a white woman lived with the Indians too long, she was more like them (and therefore was greeted with the same fate as all of the other Indians). While all of the great western elements are there, it is the relationships between the characters that bring the most depth to the film. Ward Bond appears as Reverand Captain Samuel Johnston Clayton, who helps in their effort.
“My Darling Clementine”: In John Ford’s re-telling of the events leading up to the showdown at the OK Corral, Henry Fonda stars as Wyatt Earp, who moves to Tombstone in an effort to avenge his brother’s murder. He takes on the job as town marshal and deputizes his brothers, Virgil (Tim Holt) and Morgan (Bond) as deputies. He has an embittered friendship with Doc Holliday (Victor Mature) and falls for Clementine (Cathy Downs), an old flame of Holliday’s. The film reaches a tense climax during the Earp/Clanton brothers showdown.
“Maltese Falcon”: One of the best film noirs of all time, “Maltese Falcon” stars Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade, the private eye of all private eyes. After his partner is murdered while tailing a man, he learns that the woman who hired them, Brigid O’Shaughnessy (Mary Astor), is not who she says she is. He becomes entangled in a dangerous hunt for a priceless statue. Ward Bond plays Spade’s policeman friend, Tom.
“It’s a Wonderful Life”: It’s highly unlikely that you’ve never seen or heard of this 1946 classic. While quite the box office disappointment upon it’s initial release, “It’s a Wonderful Life” has become a Christmas classic. James Stewart stars as George Bailey, a devoted son/brother/husband/father/friend, who has always put everyone else’s needs and desires before his own. One Christmas Eve, his Uncle Billy (Capra regular Thomas Mitchell) misplaces an $8,000 loan. Knowing that he will more than likely be arrested and the savings and loan office he’s struggled to keep afloat for years will crumble, George becomes despondent. After lashing out at his family, he gets drunk and decides to commit suicide. Before he can do so, Clarence (Henry Travers) appears, identifying himself as George’s guardian angel. He decides to show George what the world would be like if he hadn’t been born. Gloria Grahame stars as Violet, a saucy local who has always had her eye on George (much to the chagrin of Mary Bailey, played beautifully by Donna Reed). Ward Bond appears as Officer Bert, a loyal friend of George’s. The acting is phenomenal, and you can’t help but loving life a little more after every viewing.
Photos courtesy of imdb.com
Somewhere in the bowels of hell, Cho Seung-Hui must be smiling. He’s getting what he wanted: global infamy.
Now everybody with a TV set knows his name and his face. That sick little ditty bag that he sent to NBC did the trick.Look at me, world! I’m the Virginia Tech killer!In the news business, it’s unusual to receive a publicity packet from a dead person, much less a dead mass murderer. To help craft his legacy, Cho put together an ambitious multimedia presentation: photos, videos and writings compiled in the six days before he murdered 32 students and faculty members and then shot himself.
NBC quickly turned over the material to investigators, but not before copying it. The contents are pretty much what you’d expect from a paranoid, homicidal, narcissistic nut job.There’s the tediously hateful, vague and meandering scribblings; the predictably rambling video loops in which the killer portrays himself as a long-suffering victim of unspecified injustices; and, finally, the personal photo gallery complete with vainglorious self-portraits and the obligatory macho gun poses.
Certainly it’s shocking stuff, but it’s also a premeditated performance. Cho was still sane enough to know that, because most of us could not fathom such a monstrous crime, we’d be frantic to learn every possible detail about him.He was also sane enough to know that the media would go wild over his posthumously delivered press kit, which was mailed during a break in the shooting spree. Cho is not the first mass killer to have craved recognition, but he’s the first to successfully exploit DVD technology.Back in the summer of 1966, Charlie Whitman had only a typewriter with which to attempt to explain what he was about to do. ”I don’t really understand myself these days,” he wrote. “I am supposed to be an average reasonable and intelligent man. However, lately (I can’t recall when it started) I have been a victim of many unusual and irrational thoughts.”Hours later, Whitman murdered his mother and then his wife. The next morning, the Florida-born former Marine took a high-powered arsenal to the top of the University of Texas Tower and shot 45 innocent people, killing 16.
Those of us old enough to remember that terrible day also remember the stunned bafflement pervading the nation. ”Why?” was the question everybody was asking. Why in the world did Whitman do it?
In the typed suicide note, he complained of severe headaches and even requested that an autopsy be performed on his body to see if something was wrong. Medical examiners did find a brain tumor, although experts disagreed about whether that could have caused him to snap so violently.
Unlike Cho’s suicide messages, Whitman’s final notes were neither seething with anger nor laced with fantasies of persecution. He hinted at a difficult relationship with his father, yet he wrote adoringly of both his mother and his wife.In the end, the reason for Whitman’s sniping rampage remained a mystery. This is what was known beyond any doubt: He was a seriously screwed-up guy.
Which is ultimately all that will ever be known — and all that really matters — about Cho Seung-Hui. He was demented, he was deluded, he was dangerous. End of story.I don’t care if he had a brain tumor or an impacted wisdom tooth. I don’t care if he had an adverse reaction to his medicines. I don’t particularly care about his childhood, his dorm life or what songs he played on his iPod. After all is said and done — and that day cannot come soon enough — Cho will go into the history books as another troubled loner with documented mental problems who walked into a gun shop and bought himself a headline.
As in the Whitman case, the incalculable misery inflicted by Cho has generated an almost desperate hunger for answers. NBC had no choice but to broadcast his disturbing photos and video rants; sketchy insight into the murderous mind is better than none at all. Cho surely was aware that once his self-promotional package hit the airwaves, his face would be everywhere, indelible and inescapable. As crazy as he was, he knew exactly what to feed the media beast.
So we sit through replay after replay of his toxic tirades on television. We pick up a newspaper or a magazine, and there’s the ubiquitous faux Rambo picture, a glowering Cho with his arms extended, a gun in each black-gloved hand.We get it, already. He was an angry and unwell young man who cracked up. He was also an evil publicity freak.Now that we know what we do about Cho, the choice falls to us. Mine is to change the channel whenever his face appears. Let him be infamous on someone else’s time.Among the many who deserve more attention in death are those he executed for no reason:Ross Alameddine, Christopher Bishop, Brian Bluhm, Ryan Clark, Austin Cloyd, Jocelyne Couture-Nowak, Daniel Perez Cueva, Kevin Granata, Mathew Gwaltney, Caitlin Hammaren, Jeremy Herbstritt, Rachel Hill, Emily Hilscher, Jarrett Lane, Matt La Porte, Henry J. Lee, Liviu Librescu, G.V. Loganathan, Partahi Lumbantoruan, Lauren McCain, Daniel O’Neill, Juan Ortiz, Minal Panchal, Erin Peterson, Michael Pohle, Julia Pryde, Mary Karen Read, Reema Samaha, Waleed Mohammed Shaalan, Leslie Sherman, Maxine Turner and Nicole White.These are names worth remembering, lives worth examining.
That other guy? Just another sicko in a long, bloody line.
This appeared in the Miami Herald on Sunday, April 22, 2007.
I found this on the Wall Street Journal online opinion page and think that it’s amazing. What do you think?
Virginia Tech and the heartlessness of our media and therapy culture.
Friday, April 20, 2007 12:01 a.m.
I saw an old friend on the Acela on the way to Washington, and he told me of the glum, grim faces at the station he’d left, all the commuters with newspapers in their hands and under their arms. This was the day after Virginia Tech. We talked about what was different this time, in this tragedy. I told him I felt people were stricken because they weren’t stricken. When Columbine happened, it was weird and terrible, and now there have been some incidents since, and now it’s not weird anymore. And that is what’s so terrible. It’s the difference between “That doesn’t happen!” and “That happens.” I found this on the Wall Street Journal online opinion page and think that it’s amazing. What do you think?Actually I thought of Thoreau. He said he didn’t have to read newspapers because if you’re familiar with a principle you don’t have to be familiar with its numerous applications. If you know lightning hits trees, you don’t have to know every time a tree is struck by lightning.
In terms of school shootings, we are now familiar with the principle.
Dennis Miller the other night said something compassionate and sensible on TV. Invited to criticize some famous person’s stupid response to a past tragedy, he said he sort of applied a 48 hour grace period after a tragedy and didn’t hold anyone to the things they’d said. People get rattled and say things that are extreme.
But more than 48 hours have passed. So: some impressions.
There seems to me a sort of broad national diminution of common sense in our country that we don’t notice in the day-to-day but that become obvious after a story like this. Common sense says a person like Cho Seung-hui, who was obviously dangerous and unstable, should have been separated from the college population. Common sense says someone should have stepped in like an adult, like a person in authority, and taken him away. It is only common sense that if a person like Cho leaves a self-aggrandizing, self-celebrating, self-pitying video diary of himself to be played by the mass media, the mass media should not play it and not publicize it, not make it famous. Common sense says that won’t help.And all those big cops, scores of them, hundreds, with the latest, heaviest, most sophisticated gear, all the weapons and helmets and safety vests and belts. It looked like the brute force of the state coming up against uncontrollable human will.
But it also looked muscle bound. And the schools themselves more and more look muscle bound, weighed down with laws and legal assumptions and strange prohibitions.
The school officials I saw, especially the head of the campus psychological services, seemed to me endearing losers. But endearing is too strong. I mean “not obviously and vividly offensive.” The school officials who gave all the highly competent, almost smooth and practiced news conferences seemed to me like white, bearded people who were educated in softness. Cho was “troubled”; he clearly had “issues”; it would have been good if someone had “reached out”; it’s too bad America doesn’t have better “support services.” They don’t use direct, clear words, because if they’re blunt, they’re implicated.
The literally white-bearded academic who was head of the campus counseling center was on Paula Zahn Wednesday night suggesting the utter incompetence of officials to stop a man who had stalked two women, set a fire in his room, written morbid and violent plays and poems, been expelled from one class, and been declared by a judge to be “mentally ill” was due to the lack of a government “safety net.” In a news conference, he decried inadequate “funding for mental health services in the United States.” Way to take responsibility. Way to show the kids how to dodge.
The anxiety of our politicians that there may be an issue that goes unexploited was almost–almost–comic. They mean to seem sensitive, and yet wind up only stroking their supporters. I believe Rep. Jim Moran was first out of the gate with the charge that what Cho did was President Bush’s fault. I believe Sen. Barack Obama was second, equating the literal killing of humans with verbal coarseness. Wednesday there was Sen. Barbara Boxer equating the violence of the shootings with the “global warming challenge” and “today’s Supreme Court decision” upholding a ban on partial-birth abortion.
One watches all of this and wonders: Where are the grown-ups?
I wondered about the emptiness of the phrases used by the media and by political figures, and how pro forma and lifeless and cold they are. The formalized language of loss hasn’t kept up with the number of tragedies. “A nation mourns.” “Our prayers are with you.” The latter is both self-complimenting and of dubious believability. Did you really pray? Or is it just a phrase?And this as opposed to the honest things normal people say: “Oh no.” “I am so sorry.” “I’m sad.” “It’s horrible.”
With all the therapy in our great therapized nation, with all our devotion to emotions and feelings, one senses we are becoming a colder culture, and a colder country. We purport to be compassionate–we must respect Mr. Cho’s privacy rights and personal autonomy–but of course it is cold not to have protected others from him. It is cold not to have protected him from himself.
The last testament Cho sent to NBC seemed more clear evidence of mental illness–posing with his pistols, big tough gangsta gonna take you out. What is it evidence of when NBC News, a great pillar of the mainstream media, runs the videos and pictures on the nightly news? Brian Williams introduced the Cho collection as “what can only be described as a multi-media manifesto.” But it can be described in other ways. “The self-serving meanderings of a crazy, self-indulgent narcissist” is one. But if you called it that, you couldn’t lead with it. You couldn’t rationalize the decision.
Such pictures are inspiring to the unstable. The minute you saw them, you probably thought what I did: We’ll be seeing more of that.
The most common-sensical thing I heard said came Thursday morning, in a hospital interview with a student who’d been shot and was recovering. Garrett Evans said of the man who’d shot him, “An evil spirit was going through that boy, I could feel it.” It was one of the few things I heard the past few days that sounded completely true. Whatever else Cho was, he was also a walking infestation of evil. Too bad nobody stopped him. Too bad nobody moved.
Ms. Noonan is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal and author of “John Paul the Great: Remembering a Spiritual Father” (Penguin, 2005), which you can order from the OpinionJournal bookstore. Her column appears Fridays on OpinionJournal.com.
Copyright © 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved
So Joe Francis, the founder of the “Girls Gone Wild” series, surrendered to federal marshals this morning. He is facing a citation for contempt of court. Apparently, he threatened the plaintiff’s lawyers and the judge in charge ordered the case to be settled or Francis to go to jail. Negotiations broke down on Thursday, and a warrant was issued. Francis had refused to surrender initially.
This thirty-four year old makes what is estimated to be $29 million a year from videos of young women baring all and getting into sexually explicit situations. The seven girls that are suing him were underage when they appeared on camera during their Panama City Beach spring break four years ago.
This whole story is tragic. The worst part is, of course, that people buy these videos, and that Joe Francis makes money off of crudely objectifying women. You can only blame Francis for his entrepreneurial recklessness so much; after all, for all supply there is demand.
The only way consumers like this can separate themselves from everything that is reminiscent of their mothers is to dirty it all. Breasts are an obvious example.
Women are taught, be it by people they know or the society they live in, that their primary role is as a sex object. So, that is how they seek approval. Maybe if lift up my shirt and bra than people will think I’m really cool.
So while I think it’s unfortunate the plaintiffs felt the need to get themselves into the situations they did get themselves into, I don’t feel sorry for them. I want to shake them until they realize what idiots they were in the first place. I understand it’s Spring Break. I understand how fun it is to get drunk with your friends and do things you wouldn’t ordinarily do while sober. I’m most certainly not a teetotaler. But everyone should know their limit, and when you get to the point that you’re taking your shirt off for some creep with a camera and making out with your friend, you’re not having fun, you’re being stupid. And the point that people seem to keep missing: if they were too young to bare all on camera, they were definitely too young to be drinking alcohol. I wish that I could have woken up the morning after a wild night and sued someone for my lack of maturity and common sense.
I wish I could have gotten millions of dollars for associating myself with some of the guys who went to my college and thinking better of it down the road. But my naked body wasn’t put onto thousands of tapes and commercials. I somehow avoided that. Maybe I should feel left out. After all, no cameraman ever approached me. No one ever offered to immortalize my college girl antics. But then again most of the time my antics consisted of taking shots and playing Uno with my friends.
This is not to say I think Francis is being victimized. I think that he is a slimy, despicable creature. I think anyone who makes a living off of someone else is a waste of space, especially when it’s something like this. I think he should lose all of his money and be forced to spend the rest of his life apologizing in some constructive way or another to women the world over. I think every buyer of every “Girls Gone Wild” product should be forced to do the same. Mel Gibson and Isaiah Washington went to rehab for saying offensive things about various groups, why can’t people go to rehab for perpetuating the vicious cycle of anti-female imaging?
We have come so far in the course of feminism, but it seems like that can’t be appreciated and we as a society feel the need to take giant leaps backward. Only in the past hundred years can it even be argued that women have been seen anywhere in the midst of being equal to men. Feminism is a hard, dirty word to most people, and women are afraid to associate themselves with it. Feminists are man-haters, people think. Well, we can hate the men who objectify us the way that Joe Francis does, but we also have to hate the women who stand by and let it happen. Young children learn their place in the world from male members of their family and community, sure, but they are also shaped even more by their mothers or other females. Nature and nurture.
This case will be written off as an argument between a sleazebag and some naïve girls. But the story will continue on in American society. Even if Girls Gone Wild is no more, some slick, despicable person will start up a bigger, better version. And in a nightmare-ish way, I feel like eventually I will have to make the choice between a proverbial apron and curlers or a push up bra and crotchless panties. Which sounds better?
Peter Lorre, an actor best known for his supporting roles in films of the 30s and 40s, was born Ladislav (Laszlo) Lowenstein. Though he was born in Ruzomberok, Austria-Hungary (now Slovakia), his family moved to Vienna when he was quite young. He joined an improvisational theater group at 17, and later moved to Berlin, where he acted on the stage and in film. It was here that he adopted the stage name of Lorre. Fame came to him when director Fritz Lang cast him as the child killer protagonist in the immortal 1931 film M.
Soon after, Nazis came to power in Germany and, according to trivia buffs, Josef Goebbels himself warned Lorre to leave the country. Lorre lived in Paris before taking refuge in London. It was here that he met the great director Alfred Hitchcock, who cast him in the original The Man Who Knew Too Much. Legend has it that he bluffed Hitchcock about his limited command of English and made it through the initial meeting by smiling and laughing. He learned much of his part in the thriller phonetically.
Lorre eventually made his way to Hollywood, where he usually ended up playing evil foreigners of some kind or another. He made many good friends, including Humphrey Bogart.
In 1941 he became a naturalized citizen of the United States, but his film career began to take a downturn after World War II. He focused on radio and stage work, and in 1951 he co-wrote, acted and directed in Der Verlorene (The Lost One), which was critically acclaimed.
During the infamous House Un-American Activities Committee’s investigation of Communist infiltration in the United States, he was asked to name anyone suspicious he had met since moving to the country. He supposedly responded by giving them a list of everyone he knew.
As time went on, Lorre became overweight and never really conquered his morphine addiction. He was married three times, and he had a daughter with his last wife, Annemarie. Lorre died of a stroke in 1964 at the age of 59. His good friend Vincent Price read the eulogy at his funeral.
As Lorre’s last movie was produced in 1964, he is not the most well-known of actors to people today. So check out a few of these Peter Lorre classics.
M: Fritz Lang’s masterpiece, which I actually prefer to the director’s other famous work, Metropolis. Lorre is Hans Beckert, a serial murderer who targets children. The police attention to the case is so strong, that it is upsetting the business of the criminal underground. They decide to take matters into their own hands. The final scene, where Beckert must face his fate, is chilling. So is the whistling throughout the film to the tune of “In the Hall of the Mountain King.” Though Beckert is the character whistling, Lorre was unable to do so, and it was done by Lang.
The Man Who Knew Too Much: Though I prefer the 1954 remake, this is one of his earliest roles as a criminal in English-speaking films. The Lawrence family is on vacation in Switzerland, when their French acquaintance is shot. Before he dies, he tells Bob Lawrence (Leslie Banks) of an assassination plot. Fearing that their plan will be revealed, the assassins (headed by Lorre as Abbott), kidnap Bob’s daughter.
Secret Agent: Another Hitchcock. This time, Edgar Brodie is recruited by British intelligence during World War I to find a German spy and kill him. He is teamed with two professional agents. One is Elsa Carrington, who will pose as his wife, and the General (Lorre), a deadly assasin known as The General. After the General kills the wrong man, Elsa & Edgar begin to get suspicious.
Casablanca: One of the greatest films of all time, thought it had a lukewarm response when it first came out. Lorre was payed a paltry $500 for his role as Ugarte. His theft of transit papers from two Nazis sets the whole plot of the romance/drama/thriller in motion. His real-life friend Humphrey Bogart co-stars as Rick, who agrees to hide the papers for Ugarte. Lorre’s part is brief but memorable.
The Maltese Falcon: Bogart again co-stars as Sam Spade, a detective investigating the murder of his partner and the connection to a mysterious dame. He soon finds himself involved in the search for a priceless statue of a falcon and is pursued by dastardly criminals Kasper Gutman (Sydney Greenstreet) and Joel Cairo (Lorre). One of the best and most well-known film noirs ever.
Photos courtesy of imdb.com