Enter Stage Right hands out its awards...

The Earth is Flat Award

A celebration of the inane, insipid and asinine...

web posted April 10, 2000

Remember the Parents Music Resource Center? The PMRC was co-founded back in the 1980s by Tipper Gore that urged the record industry to adopt a system of warning labels for albums that include violent or sexually explicit lyrics.

Artists were incensed at what they thought was psuedo-government intrusion --Tipper's husband was the senator after all -- and was the closest thing to censorship other than an outright ban. Frank Zappa famously appeared in front of a Senate hearing on whether record albums and CDs should carry labels warning of graphic content and later hammered Tipper as a "cultural terrorist." Also appearing in front of that hearing was none other than Dee Snider, front man of the glam-metal band Twisted Sister.

Snider, with his straggly bleached-blond hair, antagonized Gore by daring the somewhat stiff senator from Tennessee to admit he was a Twisted Sister fan. Gore curtly replied he was not.

Time, it would appear, changes all things. The members of the band, all whom spared few words in attacking the Gores, have announced that they will be voting for the vice president come November.

"I'm sort of supporting Al Gore, which is bizarre," said Snider. "I don't trust the guy as far as I can throw him. He's a conservative liberal, but I think he's going to chew up George W. (Bush) and spit him out. He's an old-school, dirty-fighting politician."

The reason for Snider's change in opinion? the environment and abortion rights.

"To me, everything else is moot if you don't have a planet to battle on," Snider said. "He's a big environmentalist. He's stood up for environmental issues in the face of a lot of hostility."

Guitarist Jay Jay French, a self-described liberal Democrat, told the Associated Press that he thought the Gores used the band to promote their pro-family image but believes Gore has the experience and connections to get his agenda through Congress.

Not much else to say right?

There's nothing worse than when a friend stumbles. Diane Francis did exactly that last week.

According to Francis, a writer for Canada's Financial Post and generally a proponent of the free market, "[a]n economy without antitrust laws is like a hockey game without referees: Only the goons are on the ice because they have knocked out all the talented, smaller players."

That, according to Francis, is enough rationalization to applaud the verdict announced against Microsoft Corp. on April 3.

Said Francis the next day, "What is surprising, however, is the unwillingness of Microsoft and its founder, Bill Gates, to admit any culpability or to negotiate a settlement out of court despite months of attempting to do so. Reports are that the company was unreasonable, not the prosecutors."

I've written in the past in the pages of this magazine that Gates and Microsoft adopted the wrong approach to fighting the charges of the U.S. Department of Justice. Gates stated at the beginning of this brouhaha that the concept of anti-trust laws was sound but that those laws didn't apply to Microsoft because his company had done nothing illegal.

That was his and Microsoft's first and biggest mistake. By agreeing that anti-trust laws weren't voodoo economics Gates accepted the underlying conclusion of government officials like Janet Reno: the government does have the right to decide if someone is too successful and the right to use its power to "remedy" the situation.

That conclusion was also accepted by Francis in her attack on Microsoft when she wrote the company should have settled the suit to avoid potential fines in the tens of billions of dollars and the possible splitting up of the world's largest software company.

"Unlike 1995, Microsoft and Bill Gates, have remained totally unrepentant. Gates actually believes that Microsoft is a victim and is being punished merely for its success. He maintains that Microsoft's only crime is that it has a virtual monopoly in the personal- computer market worldwide," wrote Francis.

Francis is right in one sense, there are goons on the ice right now. Unfortunately, she's joined Janet Reno and the U.S. Department of Justice as that team's new player on the left wing.

The Vinegar in Freedom Award

There is an old Serbian proverb that says vinegar in freedom tastes better than honey in slavery. This award is meant for events and people Enter Stage Right considers to be positive.

web posted April 17, 2000

Most actors and actresses will do either one of two things when talking to the press: some will tell them what they truly believe while others will hedge and say what's expected. Note that the option of them keeping their opinions to themselves wasn't there.

That said, most take the second option. Hollywood, despite its continual boasting that it is the center for creative motion picture arts -- a place where a person can blaze a path of their own -- is really a one party town. Going against the party line is dangerous if you want to make any more movies.

That didn't stop actor Andy Garcia from coming to the defense of Elian Gonzalez. If Hollywood is anything like the rest of America, they want Elian on the first flight back so he can enjoy 100 per cent literacy and free health care. Garcia joined singer Gloria Estefan in wanting different.

Unlike most Americans -- and Hollywood -- the Garcia and Estefan families know firsthand about Cuba and Fidel Castro. They know it is a slave state that considers children the property of the state and not parents. They know about the unknown numbers of Cubans who have disappeared for criticizing the government or engaging in anti-Communist activity. They know what its like to contrast that with the freedom of the United States.

And that prompted Garcia to take a contrarian line and call for Elian to remain in the United States.

"If (Elian) expresses the wishes to his father to go back, then that's between them. But up until now he's only expressed the wishes to stay here and to seek asylum," Garcia said on April 12 to hundreds of supporters outside of the Gonzalez home in Miami.

Braver words from Hollywood haven't been spoken for a while.

Have someone you want considered for the Earth is Flat Award or the Vinegar in Freedom Award? Email ESR with your candidates!

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