Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Does Frank Rich "get" literature?

It's not clear where Frank Rich should be in the Times format. Originally a theater critic, he was writing op-ed's for a while. The paper moved him back to the Arts section, where he insisted on continuing to write political op-ed's. Now they've moved him back to the opinion pages, but in a fourteen paragraph piece, eight paragraphs deal with movies (The Passion), TV series ("CSI" and "Revelations"), and novels (the "Left Behind" series), while two others deal with FOX News. So should be back on "Arts"? Not if this piece in any indicator.

Rich is in a bit of a bind. He's a dependable supporter of abortion, "death with dignity," and other progressive causes. It's clear that the phrase "culture of death" rankles him, because that makes him out to be the guy who backs death. So this column marks his attempt to commandeer the language.

So what does Rich mean by the culture of death? "Mortality - the more graphic, the merrier - is the biggest thing going in America." This is a pretty slender insight, if you can call it that. Americans are obsessed with death, and the stories they tell in novels and movies and the news they are interested in are all about death. Hmm. This new "culture of death" explains so much. Americans are fascinated by death, so they turn out entertainments with death in them, such asThe Passion.

And Quentin Tarantino movies.
And Hamlet.
And The Aeneid, The Iliad, and The Odyssey.
And The Tale of Genji.

Everyone, everywhere, at all times is interested in death. It's one of the most universally human preoccupations imaginable. How can a theater critic not know this?

And did Rich object to Ted Koppel reading of a list of names of soldiers who died in Iraq?

Rich also grants this about Pope John Paul II: "If there's one lesson to take away from the saturation coverage of the pope, it is how relatively enlightened he was compared with the men in business suits ruling Washington." Ah, relatively enlightened. If only he could have been absolutely enlightened, like, say, Frank Rich, he'd have understood this whole "culture of life"/"culture of death" business so much better.
Post a Comment

Goodreads Feed