Depp redux.

Also via Tim Blair, Johnny Depp now claims his "dumb puppy" comments were--say it with me--taken out of context:
The magazine quoted the actor as saying "America is ... like a dumb puppy that has big teeth that can bite and hurt you, aggressive." He was further quoted as saying he wanted his children to "see America as ... a broken toy" that they should explore, get the feel of, then "get out."

Explaining his comments a day later, Depp he had been using a metaphor that was taken "radically out of context," adding, "There was no anti-American sentiment."
America as a broken toy isn't anti-American?
"What I was saying was that, compared to Europe, America is a very young country and we are still growing as a nation," he said. "My deepest apologies to those who were offended, affected, or hurt by this insanely twisted deformation of my words and intent."
Is it me, or is 'taken out of context' this decade's 'just good friends'?

Update: Ben Kepple of Ben Kepple's Daily Rant went so far as to pull the transcript for the interview in question.

Second update: The more I think about the questionable judgment exercised by the interviewee, the more I giggle. At least America doesn't have "Wino Forever" tattooed on its collective chest as the sad and tatty reminder of a lame attempt to expunge an ill-advised tribute to its neurotic goth ex-girlfriend, Johnboy.
Satchmo Berlusconi.

Via Tim Blair, this Spectator interview with Silvio Berlusconi:
We are now confronted by a new world situation. We have passed from the confrontation of two blocs because the Russian federation has decided, under the guidance of Mr Putin, to be part of Europe and the West. That is a very big fact. I had the occasion to be president of the G8 in Genoa in 2001, and I was the host of the dinner, trying to bring everyone into the conversation, and I was making jokes as usual. I asked Schroeder about his experiences with women because he has been married four times, and I made him laugh. And I decided after a while just to push my chair back from the table and let them talk, and I saw Blair joking with Chirac, and Putin joking with Bush, and I was joking with everyone, and suddenly I thought, ‘Look, here I am, a man who has felt on his skin the second world war, since I was born in 1936. I saw my father dressed as a soldier, and I thought, ‘What a wonderful world.’
I just can't help liking the guy.


Depp opens his piehole.

And to no one's particular surprise, stupidity falls out.
"America is dumb, is something like a dumb puppy that has big teeth — that can bite and hurt you, aggressive," Depp was quoted as saying.
I hope the painfully inept phrasing is due to some kind of problem with translation. If that's the original English, I'm embarrassed to say we were educated in the same state.

Of course, Depp has cheekbones. That covers a multitude of shortcomings. [Link courtesy of Paula.]


There's such a fine line between brilliant and stupid.

Two engrossing articles from Arts & Letters Daily; the first a consideration of French intellectuel and rockstar-like media darling Bernard-Henri Levy and his new book, Who Killed Daniel Pearl?, the second a review of the rather limp contributions made by writers and intellectual types in the aftermath of 9/11.

From the first:
"I am someone who thinks he can influence things," he says. "France, as Karl Marx said, is the country of politics, of the revolution and of universalism. It's these factors that maximise the role of the intellectuel and which maybe explain why there is such a large place given to these bizarre personnages, intellectuals, who proclaim 'le vrai, le juste et le bien', and who see a great nobility in political causes. It contrasts with the empiricisim, pragmatism and intellectual modesty of the Anglo-Saxon world, where there's a caution when it comes to the universal. There is no mythology about politics as there is in France. In England, politics is not a noble calling. It's a normal social activity - perhaps it's better like this."

In February 2002, his diplomatic role was made official when President Jacques Chirac and Lionel Jospin, his socialist prime minister, agreed - itself a rare enough event - to appoint him their special envoy in Afghanistan with a brief to advise them on the role French culture could play in a future aid programme. The idea of France sending a philosopher to a war zone was greeted with amusement internationally. At a time when the US was deploying combat aircraft, missiles and special forces to eradicate Taliban forces sheltering al Qaeda terrorists, Levy's arrival in Kabul captured the very essence of all the deep and longstanding differences in the way the world is viewed in Washington and in Paris.

But on Paris's Left Bank, where Levy and Dombasle maintain one of their sumptuous residences, his recommendations were received in deadly earnest. Le Monde, the pre-eminent newspaper of the French establishment, devoted more than 3,000 words to extracts from the 100-page report, which Levy submitted to the president and the prime minister in early April 2002. Its somewhat surreal proposals included training Afghan army officers at Saint-Cyr, the French military academy; the creation of an "Afghan ecole Nationale d'Administration" to imbue the civil service with Cartesian rationality ("We did it in Algeria, why not in Kabul?"); the establishment of a French cultural centre in Kabul; and the formation of a crack team of "hussars to spread the values of 1789" through the Afghan towns and villages.
This is precisely the kind of thought process that I find so perplexing in the French--is this really the best they can do? This is the best their educated elite can come up with? Hussars? And just what the hell are the values of 1789, apart from lopping the heads off the people who don't agree with you and dictating the price of bread?

Anyway. The second article is interesting for slightly different reasons, as a general reminder of the response of the international intelligentsia to 9/11, which ranged from the merely stupid (Alice Walker: "I firmly believe the only punishment that works is love.") to the outright offensive (Karlheinz Stockhausen: "the greatest work of art imaginable for the whole cosmos.") It seems harsh to say that no creative types rose to the occasion, but I'm damned if I can think offhand of any who did.