erik lundegaard

Sunday December 14, 2008

Eastwood and CIA: Offline

I cut through the Sunday New York Times these days — basically: Week in Review, Arts & Leisure, Sports during baseball season, maybe the Magazine if the cover looks good (“The Year in Ideas”: No) — and in the cutting through this morning there was an interesting pro/con about the Internet.

In a mock-fearful but ultimately laid-back article on Clint Eastwood and “Gran Torino,” the writer, Bruce Headlam, whose first sentence is great, mentions that the menu at Eastwood’s Mission Ranch restaurant has plenty of meat, adding:

Despite what you might have read on Wikipedia, Mr. Eastwood is not a vegan, and he looked slightly aghast when told exactly what a vegan is. “I never look at the Internet for just that reason,” he said.

Meanwhile, in an Op-Ed in the Week in Review section, Art Brown, a 25-year veteran of the CIA, lists what’s wrong with our spy agency. His first point? Its distrust of outsiders breeds a brand of insularity at odd with its mission of keeping Americans safe:

Despite their reputation as plugged-in experts on other countries, many C.I.A. officers do not even have Internet access at their desks. Worse yet, they don’t think they need it.

I empathize with both arguments. The Internet is the new form of communication with a lot of crap on it. Doesn’t mean you can’t communicate on it well, or accurately, but it does mean that if you want to stay up-to-speed with what’s going on in the world you need to at least be aware of the kinds of things you’ll find there. The danger in not doing so is apparent in Brown’s Op-Ed and even in Headlam’s profile. Eastwood’s attitude is: I do what I do, and I do it for me. In his movies, he shows his age. With the exception of beating up punks, he acts his age. He’s got a great quote on not playing your age:

“You know when you’re young and you see a play in high school, and the guys all have gray in their hair and they’re trying to be old men and they have no idea what that’s like? It’s just that stupid the other way around.”

There’s a quiet power in movies like “Million Dollar Baby” and “Mystic River” but, Headlam notes, also an anachronistic quality at odds with their contemporary settings. This is part of what happens when you let modern culture and all of its idiocies pass you by. In Eastwood’s case, the trade-off might be worth it. The CIA, not so much.

Posted at 10:41 AM on Sunday December 14, 2008 in category Culture  
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Twitter: @ErikLundegaard