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Culture Notes

Culture

Issue: "The persecuted church," Nov. 1, 1997

Ignoble prize

The Nobel prize for literature went to Italian playwright Dario Fo, an unrepentant Marxist whose plays satirize capitalism, Italian politics, and religion. His drama We Can't Pay, We Won't Pay features oppressed consumers rising up and looting a supermarket. In his play The Pope and the Witch the pontiff is administered a truth serum, whereupon he advocates the legalization of drugs and turns pro-abortion. When it was performed in San Francisco in 1992, it was condemned even by ultraliberal critics for its religious bigotry. Mr. Fo's work is little more than communist agitprop. Why, 10 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, was it regarded as worthy of the Nobel prize? The Swedish Academy gave the peace prize to the American activist Jody Williams and her International Campaign to Ban Landmines. The gesture could be seen as yet another tribute to Princess Diana, who had become a champion of the cause. The organization is dedicated not to removing existing mines but to banning countries from using them, a measure that, as President Clinton to his credit points out, would put U.S. troops in South Korea at risk. Ms. Williams was a former activist for the Sandinista dictatorship in Nicaragua. Though the $990,000 prizes for left-wing causes may signal the advent of a new radical chic, the choice for Nobel prize for economics was a testimony to the efficacy of the free market. Americans Robert Merton and Myron Scholes won the prize for developing calculations that opened up the possibility of investing in stock options, creating a new financial market worth up to $55 trillion. If Marxism, which is primarily an economic theory, doesn't work for economics, why does the Swedish academy think it works for literature?

Curtain call for Jane Alexander, savior of tax funding for the arts

Actress Jane Alexander stepped down as head of the National Endowment for the Arts after successfully defending her agency. Though the NEA was on the verge of elimination due to conservative attacks on its habit of using taxpayer money to fund questionable art, both houses of Congress finally passed a bill to give the agency $98 million and to continue federal subsidies for the arts. The bill also gave the NEA the ability to raise funds on its own. This could make the agency a true endowment, independent of congressional appropriations and oversight. The euphoria at the NEA was tempered by a new in-house report that concluded that artists have alienated themselves from the public. Arts institutions cater to the upper classes, are racially segregated, and are isolated from their communities.

Ellen a handbasket

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When former Vice President Dan Quayle addressed TV industry elites, he chastised the way they glorified single parenting in Murphy Brown. When Vice President Al Gore addressed the TV honchos in Hollywood in October, he praised the way they forced Americans to "look at sexual orientation in a more open light" in Ellen. In a speech to the Hollywood Radio and Television Society, the vice president lauded the effect of TV on American culture-citing the effect of Sesame Street on education, All in the Family on helping Americans confront their prejudice, and the made-for-TV movie The Day After on awakening Americans to the danger of nuclear weapons. Mr. Quayle was pilloried in the media for criticizing TV, though after the election pundits admitted he was right. Mr. Gore-who reportedly adlibbed the line that was not in the original draft of his speech-places himself solidly in the good graces of homosexual activists and the Hollywood elite, both of whom are big spenders on presidential campaigns. Meanwhile, in the continuing saga of Ellen DeGeneres and her coming-out-as-a-lesbian party, the actress threw a temper tantrum when an episode featuring her kissing a woman garnered a TV-14 rating with a parental advisory. This is censorship, she complained to TV Guide. When a man and a woman kiss, there is no restrictive rating. This can only be discrimination about homosexuals. Her network, ABC, which is owned by Disney, caved and removed the advisory. The incident illustrates that homosexual activists do not simply want tolerance. They want their sexual practices to be regarded as just as acceptable as those of married heterosexuals.

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