In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 5, 2010 / 21 Shevat 5770

Hollywood Has Seen the Enemy . . .

By Jonah Goldberg

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | It's Oscar time. Unfortunately — or perhaps fortunately — I haven't seen anywhere near all of the contenders. For that reason alone, I can't write an Oscar column. Throw in the fact that I think the Oscars are one of the most overhyped events in American life. They're almost as bad as the Grammys were when they were still around.

Wait, they still have those? Really?

OK, well, the Oscars are still overrated.

But I do love movies, and I'm fascinated by what they say about American life. Of course, movies don't always reflect or articulate what moviegoers are thinking. Often they merely express what Hollywood thinks Americans are thinking or what Hollywood thinks they should believe.

For instance, over the last decade, Hollywood unleashed a stream of high-profile films directly or indirectly about the war in Iraq. Nearly all of the polemical antiwar films bombed. Robert Redford & Co. were desperate to remake "Coming Home" and other antiwar films, but Americans weren't interested. The few war movies that did well pretty much avoided the sort of preachy jeremiads you'd expect to hear at Susan Sarandon's book club. For instance, "The Hurt Locker" — nominated for Best Picture — largely ignores the debate over the war and instead tells a gripping story about our troops' heroism. "The Kingdom," another war-on-terror movie, was a hit despite the best intentions of director Peter Berg, who wanted it to be a parable about the cycle of violence. It succeeded because it was good action movie that depicted Americans as heroes.

It's a bit funny, then, to hear some people claim that "Avatar," with its cartoonish environmentalism and hackneyed attacks on the military and those evil corporations, is proof that Americans love serious left-wing preaching with their popcorn. "For years," writes Patrick Goldstein in the Los Angeles Times, "pundits and bloggers on the right have ceaselessly attacked liberal Hollywood for being out of touch with rank and file moviegoers, complaining that executives and filmmakers continue to make films that have precious little resonance with Middle America." The last laugh is on them, cackles Goldstein, because "Avatar" "totally turns this theory on its head."

I'm sure Goldstein's right. No doubt James Cameron could have made "Avatar" for $300 million less and still made a fortune. After all, audiences didn't need the 3-D digital magic, explosions, giant aliens or spectacular backdrops. All they wanted was an extended lecture about the evils of corporate America and the cruelty of the military, and some gassy pantheistic blather about the need to get back to nature. Why, Cameron could have simply recorded a poetry jam at Barbra Streisand's house and still put out the highest-grossing film ever.

Goldstein's effort is a good example of how critics and historians want to impose significance on films that may not be there.

Letter from JWR publisher

Early Cold War movies from the 1950s rank pretty high as targets for film school vivisection. For decades, film historians have insisted that "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" is a thinly veiled (and paranoid) allegory about Communist infiltration. The movie ends with the protagonist screaming directly into the camera: "They're here already! You're next! You're next!"

The funny thing is that the filmmakers never saw it as an allegory about anything.

That doesn't mean "Body Snatchers" didn't reflect Cold War anxieties. But it's a good reminder that filmmakers aren't always aware of their inspiration and that sometimes the best way to articulate a larger message is to not try to.

Indeed, when Hollywood tries too hard, it usually comes out lame. The original "Day the Earth Stood Still" (1951) was driven by a fear that the Cold War would turn hot and mankind's propensity for violence would destroy the world. The 2008 remake with Keanu Reeves — playing yet another emotionally impaired, semi-stupid, quasi-robot savior figure — was a predictably lame lecture about how humans (i.e., Americans) are bad stewards of the environment. It wouldn't have been so annoying if it weren't for the fact that the same movie is made nearly every year.

Since the end of the Cold War, Hollywood has been in desperate pursuit of enemies. You'd have thought that 9/11 would have provided a great opportunity for Hollywood to find a worthy enemy. But it turned out moviemakers were more comfortable depicting Jihadi terrorists before 9/11 than after (rent "The Siege" and "Executive Decision" if you don't believe me). They've tried (and retried) aliens, drug kingpins, bad weather and the always-enjoyable zombies. But with a few exceptions, Hollywood is still most comfortable with the idea that the enemy is really us.

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