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The Academy Awards.........and Korea

so hard to distinguish......

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, March 23, 1994.

It is hard to argue with Schindler's List being awarded the best picture, and I am not, but it does raise some interesting questions about self-congratulatory award ceremonies passing as objective benedictions. Stephen Spielberg, the greatest movie maker to date, deserved an Oscar about a decade ago for ET, which may be childish fluff but which captivated the entire planet and sank so completely into our subconscious that it became an instant and beloved cliche. You will hear many definitions of art in your life, but that carries as much validity as any. There are as good and better directors, there are as good producers, there are as good creators of fantasy, there is nobody who combines them all at such a high level, has such enormous output, and a relatively wide range of interests, not excluding animation. In any case, the Oscars are hardly indicative of long range success. Tatem O'Neil, for example, won an Oscar at the age of 10 for Paper Moon. She was very good in it, but....

And here we have the second youngest actress to win an Oscar with Anna Paquin, who gave the best performance in The Piano, the politically correct film from Australia. I doubt anyone would contend that her performance equalled any of her competitors, and this speaks to two possibilities: that the Academy split on the other four and by fluke, the least likely got it. OR it was felt that The Piano needed to get at least 2 major Oscars in order to assuage that element of the academy. Or they really thought the kid was the best, which speaks volumes. For example, McCauley Culkin is just as good, good enough to have a backlash against him and far more popular, and no sane person would offer him an Oscar yet.

But now, something lighthearted to offset the oppressive severity of the Academy Awards. North Korea is in a snit because they dress funny, the south has more fun and people and now has the Patriot Missile, which is touted as the element to hurl the Korean peninsula into war. NoKo may have two atomic bombs, and now may have the vehicle to get it to the south with a Scud variant. Let us review the high points of our last war, the one with which the Patriots made their name, and against the same enemy, the Scud.

Of course, I'm referring to the Persian Gulf war, etched upon our memory by trails of Scud missiles being shot with Patriot missiles over Saudi Arabia. Recall, the Scud is a 1950's era horror that was designed to cross borders in vague directions and come down where it would, much like the V1 over London. Despite the fact a Scud could not hit the broad side of a barn if fired from the inside, they were a concern because they could carry biological payloads, gas, or nuclear weapons. So we installed the Patriot, a highly questionable item. Despite the brouhaha, proof is fairly conclusive that the Patriot is firmly in the tradition of military advance, to wit, it doesn't work as promised and often, rather petulantly, doesn't work at all. Even when it does work, the results are not as advertised. For example, if the Patriot does indeed explode near the Scud or even hit it, the Scud's nailed-on warhead, bound by the laws of physics, continues its flight, albeit within a shortened parabola, but nonetheless comes down and explodes on contact. Because the patriot has such a short range, even when it works the results are hard to distinguish from its not working at all: a warhead still comes down in the same general area and explodes.

In Korea, where on a clear day the two antagonistic capitals swear at each other by exchanging obscene semaphore over the border since they are so close to each other, the advantage of either nuclear weapons or the defense against them is highly, utterly questionable. For the Nokos to say the installation of the Patriot is a declaration of war reveals just how out of touch they are. Unless most of the parts are made in South Korea, always a possibility, the Patriots hardly increase the safety of that baton wielding state. In any event, it is difficult to imagine a war in Korea today: the north is so ripe for collapse, China has no emotional tug to protect it and many reasons to ignore it, provided it does not become a huge Hong Kong on its border. Let's not get overworked about this. No war in Korea this decade.