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September 06, 1991 - Image 16

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The Michigan Daily, 1991-09-06

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Page 16 -The Michigan Daily - Friday, September 6, 1991

Tenured Radicals: How
Politics Has Corrupted
Our Higher Education
by Roger Kimball.
harper Perennial
Are students on U.S. campuses
dupes of a plot by "the children of
the sixties" to finally "im-
plement" their "dream of radical
cultural transformation"? Are the
growing horror stories of leftwing
"Politically Correct" intolerance
and authoritarianism on campus
true? Our today's "tenured radi-
cals" the ringleaders of a "new
McCarthyism"?
Roger Kimball's Tenured
Radicals provides a useful starting
point for answering such questions,
because its sarcastic, rhetorically
charged tone - coupled with an al-
most blind allegiance to a rather ab-
stract conceptualization of "the
West" - makes Kimball's moral
passion play a remarkably transpar-
ent expose of the rightwing frame-
up at the heart of the "PC" contro-
versy.
Tenured Radicals is a 200-page
jeremiad on how modern evils rang-
ing from psychoanalysis to
Marxism have laid waste to
"traditional aesthetic values such as
clarity, order, and harmony." Taking
us with him on a tour of numerous
academic conferences all over the
country where these values are re-
peatedly trounced, Kimball casti-
gates the decline of "the most ele-
mentary distinctions of taste, judg-
ment, and value."
But whose taste are we talking
about here? Not a man to waste time
in either doubt or reflection,
Kimball forges ahead, identifying
taste with "the West," which is not
only the most "open" society in
history and the guardian of

"aesthetic excellence, philosophical
sophistication, and historical im-
portance," but also, "demographics
notwithstanding," what defines the
United States and U.S. culture.
Insisting that "education is the
staunchest bulwark against the
forces of disintegration we are fac-
ing," Kimball suggests that "being
ignorant of that [Western] culture
means being ignorant of oneself."
Skip the "unending search for works
by authors of the requisite sex, skin
color, sexual orientation, or ethnic
heritage." Plato and Aristotle have
more to tell us about modern times
than Toni Morrison and Alice
Walker.
There are numerous flaws in this
argument, beginning with
Kimball's definition of a work of
art as something with universal
value. Universal for whom? He
never defines what those values are
- let alone what constitutes
"excellence" or "taste" - render-
ing his appeal to such standards
rather circular: a work is great be-
cause it is great, or, more specifi-
cally, a work is great because it is
Western.
In other words, what Kimball
really means when he calls for a
cultural "bulwark" against
"barbarism," "demographics not-
withstanding," is that works of
literature and art upholding his
view of the world as the view of the
world must be protected from the
cultural and racial others at civi-
lization's gates. Poised on the
precipice of a century in which this
country's white population will be-
come a minority, Kimball's tract
opts for a stubbornly nostalgic look
at a past that never was rather than
facing a present teeming with con-
tradictions.
- Mike Fischer

A genial male-female review of the latest
feminist film (directed by a man, ofcourse)*

Eating
dir. Henry Jaglom
by Mark Binelli and
Elizabeth Lenhard
TRUE STORY. I was hanging out at
the Daily waiting for Elizabeth, my
new co-editor. Like most chicks,
she's always late, so I went to
McDonalds and grabbed a Big Mac
and a chocolate shake. She finally
showed up about an hour later,
when we sat down to discuss Eating,
the latest feminist film directed by a
man (talk about oxymorons).
Elizabeth: Sorry I'm late. I was
at Meijer's with my roommates.
Mark: What the hell are you
chewing on? Styrofoam?
Elizabeth: An organic oat bran
rice cake. Wanna make something of
it, you male chauvinist pig?
Mark: Chill out, baby. Ow!
Sorry, sorry.
Elizabeth: You men are all alike.
It's just like the movie we saw,
Eating.
Mark: That movie sucked.
Except for that French chick who
was always sunbathing topless.
That bitch was fly. Ow!
Elizabeth: You insensitive boob.
Don't you understand that beneath
the food in this movie lay just about
every issue that wimmin encounter
in the world today?
Mark: What?
Elizabeth: When wimmin deal
with unwanted pregnancy, such as
the one about which Martine (Nelly
Alard) reminisces, that issue is tied
into weight gain. Mother-daughter

rivalry is played out in a war of at-
tractiveness - Lydia (Marina
Gregory) competes with her
mother, Sadie (Marlena Giovi), in
Hollywood and in love, but the anx-
iety involved causes her to sabotage
herself by overeating.
Mark: Huh?
Elizabeth: The approach of the
director, Henry Jaglom, was fairly
prophetic. Of course, the hysterical
obsessiveness of the characters'
discussions is obviously a male's
interpretation of wimmin's extra-
ordinary sensitivity.
Mark: Yeah, right. But back to
the film. First of all, Jaglom's ap-
proach begins with dialogue that's

melodramatic bordering on absurd.
"I hate it that my tits are sagging"?
"The safest sex that you can have is
eating"? Come on.
Elizabeth: You would think
that. Your threshold for satire is so
LOW, Mark.
Mark: Look, don't worry your
pretty little head over intricate con-
cepts like satire. You obviously
can't handle it. I understand that it
was overdone intentionally, but it
just didn't work. But, AS I WAS
SAYING, Jaglom takes his poorly
written dialogue and then he shoots
his film in this pseudo-documentary
style to try to make everything
See EATING, Page 17

Jaglom1

BETSRIE 'PIE IN ' ETSRIC N RC ET EVC R

W%:H74gwu
REClORDS
WE ARE A
TICKET CEFNTER

WE HAVE SOME
MOTIVATION
FOR YOU

The cast of Eating (1-r): Mary Crosby (Kate), Frances Bergen (Mrs. Williams), Lisa Richards (Helene), Gwen
Welles (Sophie) and Marina Gregory (Lydia).

a

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