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March 14, 2000 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-03-14

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, March 14, 2000

Q~be £irbitguu ]Da~lg

Miramax Studio: Oscar's puppetmaster

420 Maynard Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
daily. letters@umich.edu
Edited and managed by
students at the
University of Michigan

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editor

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority of the
Daily's editorial board. All other articles, letters and cartoons do not necessarily
reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

There's no room for hazing at the 'U'

T he University's Greek system has
faced many problems this year, and
pounding headaches after a night of hard
partying is not the biggest one: What
houses are subjugating their pledges to
The answer is known by some, but
the solution eludes nearly all, and the
Greek community is struggling for con-
trol. Hazing poses a serious threat to the
safety of University students, and it is
only after someone gets hurt that the
necessary attention the issue needs is
applied. The serious dangers that hazing
poses became very clear to the student
body and the administration after an
incident involving a BB gun at Alpha
Epsilon Pi. This episode sparked cam-
pus-wide concern and lead to the wel-
comed visited by David Westol,
executive director of the Theta Chi fra-
ternity's national chapter, to speak to
University students about the evils of
hazing last week at Rackham Auditori-
um. He admitted that he was a victim of
hazing and later participated in hazing
others when he was a Theta Chi member
at Michigan State University.
Westol's goal was to motivate Univer-
sity students to stand up to hazing and
stressed the idea that it only takes one
person to stop it. This type of member-
ship ritual and custom is not only found
in Greek organizations, but also in sport
teams and military organizations. There
are cases where a death of a young sol-
dier was not at the hands of the enemy,
but rather his fellow comrades. It is just
another example of the brutality that can
exist within organizations that are sup-

posed to promote brotherhood and unity.
Even though not all hazing horror
stories are not smeared across the front
page of the Daily, this type of brutal and
inhumane treatment is still a problem at
the University. The exposure of a few
hazing events does not make the prob-
lem disappear or evaporate. The threat of
hazing still exists at the University. It is
a problem that can not be taken lightly. It
becomes a tradition or a ritual event in a
house that gets passed down through the
generations - and it will stay in a house
for years and years. The longer it per-
sists the more severe and important the
hazing becomes for the brotherhood of
the fraternity pr group membership.
Fraternities and sororities are not
about hazing and punishing each other.
It is an organization that should bring
friendship and leadership to the lives of
its members. Greek houses focus on
community service and building strong
ties within in the campus. The safety of
students is not only compromised
through hazing, but also the strength of
the house suffers.
Hazing does not bring unity and
friendship, but rather pins one group of
students against older members in a
house. Hazing validates the use of posi-
tion and power to torture and embarrass.
It has no place on this campus or any
other. It is surprising that at an institu-
tion where students fight to abolish inhu-
mane treatment of others and rid the
world of injustice there is still the pres-
ence of hazing. As Westol made clear, it
only takes one person to stand up and
say no to the abuse.

Last week, 4,000 Oscar ballots disap-
peared from the Beverly Hills post office.
Officials speculated that they had been mis-
marked and were languishing as third-class
mail. I speculated that they had somehow
found their way to Harvey Weinstein's house.
This isn't a serious allegation, but it's not
unwarranted. As an avid entertainment con-
spiracy theorist, I turn
my attention this week
to the latest scandal
that Hollywood and the
other governing bodies.
of our country (make
no mistake, Hollywood
is as much in control of
our leisure time as
Washington is in
charge of our tax
breaks) have perpetrat-
ed on the public. Erin
The culprit this
year, last year, and Podolsky
throughout the 1990s, You Will
is Harvey Weinstein. S
Perhaps you've heard ____ dy_
of him. You probably
have, because he loves to plaster himself
across the media as the benevolent papa bear
of Miramax, the little indie studio that could.
This projection is just the first of many such
little white lies; Miramax is now a subsidiary
of Disney, one of the world's largest corpora-
tions, entertainment and otherwise.
In each of the past eight years, Miramax
has had at least one best picture nominee. For
a so-called independent, that's pretty main-
stream. The nominees are great movies, and
some of them arguably the best films of the
decade. But can "The Cider House Rules"
really be referred to in the same breath as
"Pulp Fiction" or "The Crying Game?" Old
Harv has had his nomination appetite whet,
and anybody who's seen the guy knows he
loves to eat. Just because Miramax had no
resounding critical or box office success this
year doesn't mean that Harvey will be content
to starve while his peers gorge themselves.
I woke up early on the morning of the
Oscar nominations ard turned on the TV I

expected "Cider House" to pick up a few
nominations here and there, at least a nod for
John Irving's adaptation of his own novel
because the Academy loves to honor efforts
of that sort whether or not they're successful.
But never in my wildest dreams did I believe
a movie that so blatantly shouts "Love me!
Nominate me!" from the hilltops would actu-
ally be listened to, let alone get only one nom-
ination less than the vastly superior
"American Beauty." I hurled curses at the TV
set. My roommates woke up and considered
administering sedatives.
The nominations for "Cider House" come
completely out of the blue. It had won virtual-
ly no recognition in the list-happy months of
December and January; it had been ignored
by the Golden Globes, often considered a har-
binger of the Oscars; its box office was negli-
gible (had you heard of the movie before
Oscar nom morning? I thought not); and most
striking, it had a lukewarm response among
the nation's film critics.
The latter fact is the most important for
reasons of comparison. Pay a visit to
wwwrotten-tomatoes.com, a site that cata-
logues reviews and tabulates percentages of
positive and negative reactions. Looking at
the other best picture nominees for this year,
"American Beauty" has an approval rating of
93 percent, "The Green Mile" 79 percent,
"The Insider" 94 percent and "The Sixth
Sense" 85 percent. Other movies that showed
up on a multitude of ten best lists all scored
higher than 80 percent.
"The Cider House Rules" clocks in with a
whopping 63 percent.
I believe that Harvey Weinstein makes
certain that Academy voters have seen his
movies. That's good business, good market-
ing. I also believe that Harvey somehow con-
vinces various outlets to declare that the
Oscars are a two-horse race between "Ameri-
can Beauty" and "Cider House." Maybe he
offers them walk-ons in the next "Scream"
installment or a few backend points on the
upcoming Tarantino picture. As a result, vot-
ers sitting at home read that news and make
their decision based on what amounts to man-
ufactured peer pressure. I'd like to be wrong.

But the facts remain that Weinstein is known
for his campaigning and that "Cider House"
wasn't even mentioned until it popped up
seven times during the nomination announce-
ments. I won't even address Meryl Streep's
nomination for "Music Of The Heart, one of
the worst movies I saw last year. I hadn't con-
sidered that she would get a nomination. Silly
me - "Heart" is a Miramax movie.
The Academy Awards mean nothing to
me personally. But for people who believe
what they read in the papers, who watch CNN
to find out what they should see this weekend,
they mean a lot. They become the de facto
arbiter of good taste for people who don't
know any better. I'm not saying that my taste
is better than yours; what I'm saying is that I
see upwards of 125 new movie releases in a
given year, so I have a larger frame of refer-
ence. I don't expect others to be as dedicated
or obsessive. But I expect a governing body
- the Academy, FDA, pick your poison -
to be as informed and make judgments
accordingly rather than pandering to audi-
ences and believing their own hype.
I don't begrudge "Shakespeare In Love"
(you guessed it, a Miramax movie) its best
picture Oscar, although in 10 years we'll look
back and be agog and aghast that it defeated
"Saving Private Ryan." "Shakespeare" is a
bona fide "good" movie. It's smart, witty,
entertaining. Is it an Important Film? Maybe.
"Cider House," on the other hand, is sappy,
sentimental, mildly entertaining. Is it an
Important Film? Certainly not. It is strictly
old school, takes no chances in a year that
includes the risky "Magnolia" and "Being
John Malkovich." There's nothing wrong with
a "feel good" picture being recognized.
What's wrong is when a movie like that is rec-
ognized in lieu often other movies that are far
and away better works.
Go see "Cider House" for yourself. Enjoy
it, even. But don't ignore what else is out
there. Don't believe everything you read.
Hell, don't believe what you're reading here.
Don't let Harvey Weinstein's hype machine
become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
- Erin Podolskv can he reached via
e-mail at oppsie@umich.edu.


I r 7r-

=220000" M, lk

Cheap move
Tax cut wormed onto minimum wage bill

With the economy booming and
unemployment so low that some
fast food restaurants are offering new
employees signing bonuses, raising the
minimum wage may not seem like a ter-
ribly pressing issue right now.
However, such a time of prosperity is
the perfect opportunity to make sure
those workers on the lowest rung of the
economic ladder are being given the
chance to move up. Many in Congress
fortunately share this view and success-
fully pushed for a bill to increase the
minimum wage by $1 an hour to $6.15
over the next two years.
Unfortunately, the minimum wage bill
that cleared the House of Representatives
last week was saddled with the poison
pill of a $122 billion tax cut. Trumpeted
as a way of "cushioning the blow" to
businesses that the minimum wage sup-
posedly causes, this tax cut is an irre-
sponsible sham meant to benefit already
wealthy people. It throws the fiscal disci-
pline so fervently professed by congres-
sional leaders out the window and takes
away money from more worthy uses such
as health care and education.
The claim made by the supporters of
this tax cut is that it is intended to pro-
tect small businesses from being harmed
by a minimum wage increase. While
there is certainly some merit to that goal,
this tax cut is clearly not designed for
that purpose. Two-thirds of the bill's
costs come from a cut in the estate tax.
While the estate tax, which taxes the
estates of deceased persons, can obvious-
ly affect a small business (though
exceedingly rarely) and it has nothing to
do with the minimum wage. Paying a
lower tax on one's assets after their death
in no way helps them increase their
employee's salaries now. Opponents of

this tax cut proposed a $36 billion tax cut
package specifically aimed at small busi-
nesses, but the House leadership refused
to allow a vote on it. It is clear that the
Republican leaders of the House had lit-
tle interest in increasing the minimum
wage, but felt it necessary to diffuse an
issue that Democrats would assuredly use
against them in November's elections.
They did so by introducing a bill that
would allow their members to say they
voted to increase the minimum wage,
while at the same time attaching a tax cut
provision they knew the President was
unlikely to accept. Playing this political
game with the livelihoods of America's
poorest workers is detestable.
The Senate's already-passed version
of the minimum wage bill is even worse.
While its tax cut is lower, at $103 bil-
lion, it raises the minimum wage by $1
over three years instead of two. Delaying
the increase in this manner is wholly
inappropriate given that the minimum
wage's purchasing power has already
been badly eroded by inflation and a
more immediate increase could help cor-
rect this problem.
During the United States' most pros-
perous period in at least a generation,
Congress cannot seriously believe that it
is necessary to give $122 billion to peo-
ple who own busines-ses. Where's the
$122 billion for people who have to live
on $6.15 an hour? The President has
threatened to veto a minimum wage bill
in either of its current forms and he is
right to do so. Both of the bills are fis-
cally irresponsible and meant to help
rich people more than minimum wage
workers. The Republican leadership of
congress needs to stop playing games
and allow votes on clean minimum wage

show spirit of 'U'
I have many times found myself at odds
with those who voice their opinions to the
University community by means such as
this. but never to the extent that I felt it nec-
essary to respond in such a manner as this. I
must say that upon reading Paul Ocobock's
March 10th letter "Athletes aren't sole rep-
resentatives of University," I was more than
dismayed to note the utter disdain and disre-
gard for University student-athletes.
I am sure that had Ocobock ever really
considered what a student-athlete brings, sac-
rifices and makes the University he certainly
would retract his previous column and fur-
thermore, he would wholeheartedly apologize
to the community that he so vehemently
lashed out against. As ahcommunity, these
fine men and women represent the University,
and ultimately Ocobock, with their heart and
soul. They do this out of a profound respect
and reverence for this institution and for
those who attend it. They choose to not only
speak of a love for Michigan, rather they
choose as Nick Delgado rightly stated "to
embody it." Athletes are in Delgado's words
"the heart of Michigan." They do in fact have
a passion and "feel the spirit of Michigan." If
you cannot see this, then I am sorry. But next
time you choose to reprimand us, please take
the time out of your day to really learn who
we are, what we are, and what we choose to
sacrifice so that we might rightly and proper-
ly represent you and this fine University.



SCC insulted
students in Union
As I walked down the front steps of the
Michigan Union yesterday, I was
approached by a large group protesters from
the Students of Color Coalition. The protest-
ers shouted at me, referring to me as "igno-
rant," a "moron" and a "supporter of
institutionalized racism."
In reality, all I was doing was walking
down a flight of stairs that I use on a daily
basis. I am not sure as to how that can be
equated with making a politicaltstatement
against the SCC. I was deeply offended and
embarrassed by these unprovoked insults
and shameful name-calling tactics.

Memories ofa fan: Why sports now

Iused to love sports. When I was a boy, I
was obsessed, you might say. University
of Michigan sports were incredible. I loved
the Detroit Tigers. I followed the Lions too.
Long before they became the NH L's most
valuable franchise, the Detroit Red Wings
were like gods to me. But my interest in
these teams paled in
comparison to my
devotion to the Detroit
Pistons. Joe DumarsV
was the epitome of the Y
professional athlete, so
far as I was concerned.
I watched him this Fri-
day, in a televised cere-
mony at the Palace just
before the Pistons
played Portland, as his
number was retired Josh
As I watched Pis- Cowen
tons from years past .
walk to center court, to Emphasis
honor Joe D, I. felt the K
strange sensation of
sadness creen into my consciousness. With it

who does not comply will cost his team
$100,000 per game. The networks think this
will boost their ratings. The NBA wants to
keep its pockets full, so it needs to keep the
networks happy.
With this news I understood for the first
time why I do not watch the Pistons, and why
I cannot call niyself a sports fan anymore.
During the past few years, my feelings
toward sports have not been characterized by
disinterest, but by disgust. The reason is sim-
ple. Sports are a business now, an industry
producing entertainment at all costs. Sports
have been infected by a sickness, the symp-
toms of which are greed, disloyalty, and self-
ishness. The effect of this plague is
devastating: the death of sportsmanship. No
player is immune.
Immediately after experiencing this
epiphany, I went to my video collection and
pulled out two dusty tapes. The first was the
1989 NBA Championship video, "Motor
City Madness." The second was its 1990
counterpart, "Pure Pistons." I watched them
both back to back. "Pure Pistons" was partic-
ularly poignant. It opens with a camera shot
of the white board in the team's locker room.

Like most Americans, I support the right
to peaceably assemble. This is a guaranteed
privilege that falls under the First Amend-
ment. But the SCC has abused this privilege
by engaging in a pattern of hostility and
aggression that is detrimental to the entire
community. Perhaps the SCC would gain
more respect from the campus and the sur-
rounding community by using more rational
and appropriate protest tactics. The First
Amendment protects the right to peaceably
assemble, but it does not protect speech tha*
is slanderous in nature. The SCC has violat-
ed this important guideline by making
unfounded and insulting statements regard-
ing visitors of the Union. As a result the
SCC is promoting hatred instead of equality.
Iean nothing
showing its ugly head at every moment.
Today it is what drives our athletes. Some-
thing else used to push them. My videos are
proof of that. "Motor City Madness" shows a
heartbroken Magic Johnson seconds after he
tore his hamstring during the finals. Magic
explained his anguish: " I love to play so
much." "Pure Pistons" includes Isaiah
Thomas' press conference, at which
announced that Joe Dumars' father had di
before Game Three of the 1990 Finals. Isaiah
struggled for the words to express himself.
His teammate was his brother, and he too had
lost a father.
Team. That is a concept missing today.
Players chase money, and bounce from city
to city trying to find it. This was not always
true. Isaiah worked in Detroit for nine years
before he won a championship. Little by lit-
tle his team improved, and he met his go
in time. Few athletes understand the value o
loyalty anymore. When Tiger Stadium host-
ed its last game this fall the analysts covering
the ceremony noted the tears in the eyes of
many players. Tiger Stadium had been their
home. I try to imagine Kobe Bryant or Allan
Iverson at such a ceremony, if their arenas


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