Tag Archives: Mark Steyn

The Cinch Review

Mark Steyn on Saving Both Jerome Kern and the World

I was watching this talk with the always-interesting writer Mark Steyn, which took place at UC Berkeley in 2007, and I was struck by one particular thing Steyn said and thought I would note it down here. Steyn started out as an arts critic and journalist, but he’s far better known now as a commentator on world events and politics. His book America Alone: The End of the World As We Know Itwas a bestseller (and that, indeed, provides a large part of the grist for the 55-minute conversation you can watch via the YouTube clip below). The quote that I thought worth capturing conveys some of the motivation behind his transition from arts criticism to what you might call pan-global-societal criticism.

I love writing about music, I love writing about film and theater, and I would do that if this was an ideal world. But I think at some point, if there are great things going on in the world, and you want to say something about them, and you don’t — it’s not going to be any consolation to me to have a great CD collection as Western civilization falls apart. In a sense you’ve got to — if you value the freedom to stroll into some piano bar in a hotel somewhere on the planet and hear a great singer singing “The Way You Look Tonight” or whatever — you’ve got to understand that even that little miniature experience is at the apex of a whole cultural foundation, and that you can’t just sort of sheer off the small pleasures of a 32-bar song from all the big geo-political issues. They are explicitly connected in that sense.

The Cinch Review

Ronald Reagan on the big screen

Do yourself a favor during the current orgy of debate and discussion regarding Ronald Reagan, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his birth, and read Mark Steyn’s appreciation of Reagan the movie actor. Any article that has the following as the opening paragraph qualifies as absolutely golden almost regardless of what follows (if you ask me):

If I understand correctly the Left’s dismissal of Ronald Reagan back in the Eighties, it’s that he was a third-rate B-movie ham of no consequence and simultaneously such an accomplished actor he was able to fool the American people into believing he was a real president rather than a mere cue-card reader for the military-industrial complex. These would appear at first glance to be somewhat inconsistent characterisations, but they can be reconciled if you have as exquisitely condescending a view of the American people as, say, Gore Vidal.