Friday, May 03, 2002


is what John Podhoretz is up to. Here's my response:

I've not seen Hollywood Ending -- though I'll likely go this weekend -- so I must reserve comment. I'm not a "film buff" or a fan of the Sundance channel, nor do I bleed over indie genius. I detest most foreign movies. I like action/adventure, the hero gets the bad guy, boy gets girl(s), and funny movies. Woody Allen makes funny movies.

Your comparison of Allen's post-Mia movies to those he made with her fails. You try to force square pegs into round holes to fit "the moral of the story" and it won't fly. To wit:

Mighty Aprhodite was pretty funny.

Rip offs or not, Jade Scorpion and Small Time Crooks were very funny. The latter, especially, had great doses of those zingers that make some of Woody's movies so delightful; the former was a successful execution of a funny premise with some nice twists and turns.

Deconstructing Harry was absolutely hilarious. Did you not see the riffs with Billy Crystal in Hell? The exchange with Woody's sister featuring one of the greatest setup-punchline exchanges in history (" France, I could run on that ticket and win.")? The gag where Woody is right there for Bob Balaban when he faces possibly fatal news from his doctor, but then initially turns a deaf ear to Woody's request to accompany him on the road trip (much insight and humor in that exchange)?

Weren't a lot of the Mia movies, well, ponderous? Didn't you get the feeling that she was the source of the ponderousness? Of the ones you mention, only Hannah and Her Sisters is what I call really entertaining.

Isn't the real comparison between the pre-Mia and Mia movies? What about Annie Hall? Manhattan? What about Everything You Wanted to Know..., Bananas, Love and Death, Sleeper? Isn't that the gamut from terrific bittersweet love story to wonderful farce?

What Hollywood leading man doesn't cast himself opposite much younger beautiful women, if he can get away with it? What regular guy doesn't dream of such for himself? At least with Woody, the premise is floated that a bad-looking, not necesssarily rich older guy can get the babes if he's sufficiently witty, which must bring hope to millions.

As for the Scandal, get over it. News flash: Woody and Mia's set-up was not exactly Ozzie and Harriett. She's a nut. Soon-Yi was not his child, legally or biologically. I've heard it argued, notably by that great moralist and lesbian cow Rosie O'Donnell, that she was his child morally, but again, how can we apply conventional morality to the zoo that was the Farrow household? My only beef with Woody over Soon-Yi is that she's so damn ugly.

Why do I have the feeling that you wrote the heart of your column years ago and have just been waiting for a Woody movie to trash to go with your pet theory?

Wednesday, May 01, 2002


Wesley Smith condemns Oregon's assisted sucide law in the National Review. I disagree:

Wesley Smith does a good job of attacking the straw man: the admittedly ludicrous fiction that assisting suicide is practicing medicine in the Hippocratic sense.

However, there could be good reasons to require such (if we are going to allow assisted suicide) be done by doctors, and not relatives.

Presumably doctors would be better able to insure a painless, successful (in the sense that the patient dies as he intends) process.

Doctors also could be more qualified to advise the patient of less drastic ways to relieve their suffering/improve their quality of life and thus possibly prevent suicides.

Requiring someone in the process who neither is emotionally involved with nor a potential beneficiary of the death, as opposed to spouses, children, etc., certainly promotes the interest of making sure that the suicide is desired by the patient.

All of which still begs the question, should we allow assisted suicide at all?

What about this? There is no enforceable penalty for the physically capable person who kills himself. Absent assisted suicide, people with debilitating illnesses might well punch the clock prematurely, rushing to act before they became helpless to do so. Thus, the availability of assisted suicide might well extend some lives.

Fundamentally, why is it the government's business if someone wants to off himself? It seems requiring one to stay alive against his wishes is the ultimate denial of liberty. Again, a prohibition against assisted suicide only affects those too weak to do it themselves. Is this fair?

Moreover, under what twisted abandonment of federalism is it the United States' right to tell Oregon that, pursuant to a law adopted by its legislature, its citizens may not have help taking their own lives? What conceivably constitutional federal statute could bar that law? And if the answer to that is "none", how obscene is it for the chief law enforcement officer of the United States, the Attorney General, to subvert the Constitution by the backdoor stunt of taking away the drug-prescribing privileges of physicians who dare act in accordance with a clearly enforceable law, just because he doesn't like it?

I've not addressed the enormous and troubling practical problems with legalizing assisted suicide, most of which boil down to making sure it's the patient's competent wish to end his life. That's a whole other discussion.

What I am most interested in is in making sure that even zealots like Wesley Smith realize they don't have an exclusive claim to the moral high ground on this issue. There is another principled side to this debate. Where one comes down on the issue is truly a matter of conscience. And in America, matters of conscience rightly are decided by each individual for himself.