a war made it politically unprofitable;nthis malaise at the top made everybodynaround so fed up that soldiers justnpacked their bags and left the battlefield.nIt was America that acquired thenhonor of introducing such a novelty innthe historiography of warfare.nIf both victory and defeat can inducena national renaissance as well asndemoralization and decline ^—whatnshould be the aftermath of a walkout ?nTo my mind, the society would be farnfrom disintegrating, but its culture, especiallynthe arts, would become debased,nsoiled and would begin tondrool. That’s exactly what has happenednto America since Vietnam, andnWho’ll Stop the Rain is a perfect examplenof drooling.nThe movie tries to say somethingnnew about the nature of wars. All warsninvolve the same mud, blood, mutilation,nsuffering, fear and collapse ofnweaker characters, and it requires anforce of either intellect or feeling tonsay something new about all that. Suchnforce is alien to the makers of thisnmovie, so they soon abandon their initialnambition, and turn out the routinenHollywood bang-bang-go-get’em chasenafter some earthly possession. Once itnwas gold, or a bag of money, this timenit’s a bag of dope. The reputedly radicalndirector from Europe is, of course,nunwilling to connect any human valuento the war, or to America in toto, sonhe purposely jumbles motifs just tonmake U.S. antinarcotic authorities looknlike rascals, but even this point evadesnhim, and no one on screen, or in thenaudience, knows for sure who is whonand why they all act in such a way.nThe story has a central character whonis built like a gladiator, reads Nietzschenand behaves like a cross betweenna retarded child and Spillane’s MikenHammer. His highest moral and philosophicalntenet is to never give in tonmorons; one does not need Nietzschento form such a complex wisdom, anMarine drill camp would suSice. Somencritics were blabbing about his beingna Conradian hero, proving that theirnknowledge of Conrad and his charactersncomes from reference books.nThe final showdown takes place inna spectacular mountainous terrain,nquite a ritualistic setting for the narrativendenouements in this kind ofnmovie. There’s plenty of shooting andncrawling behind the rocks — RaoulnWalsh’s High Sierra, perhaps the bestnof those generic cliches, comes tonmind. It’s a telling connotation. WhennHumphrey Bogart, deprived by thenmovie script of any involvement withnNietzsche or war-inflicted neurosis, wasndying on screen — we grieved. Whennthe protagonists of Who’ll Stop thenRain are butchered, a palpable sensenof indifference can be felt in the darknessnof the audience: people munchnpopcorn, blow their noses, slurp coke.nThose heroes make no difference to us,nno one gives a damn for them. Andnthat’s what I mean by the debasementnof arts after wars abandoned by default.n* * *nThe Buddy Holly Story is repletenwith embarrassing simplism in picturingnpeople, their wishes and fortunes,nnot to mention their rapport with onenanother, with society and society’s withnthem. On the other hand, it conveysnsome feeling about the authenticity ofninnocence — no mean feat, as innocencenis a thoroughly suspicious partnof the reality and a slippery notion.nThe beginnings of rock’n’roll as a socioculturalnphenomenon were innocencenitself: just another flavor in thengiant brew of American grassroots music—na specific folklore in itself, anproduct of technology as much as ofnfeelings and moods, perhaps the firstnfolk art conceived not only by talent,nbut also by audio-amplification andnmechanical means of distribution. Asnsuch, it was just another link in thenevolution of that successful and fascinatingnfusion that blended the rhjrthmnof the American life with syncopatednmusic and transmitted to the rest ofnthe world some sense of and aboutnAmerica. It fell prey, in the ’60s, tonnnsham, fraud, fanaticism and exploitationnby a coalition of “artists” andnbusiness operators who wrote into itnnonexistent contents and “values.” ThenBuddy Holly Story rectifies, a bit, thenrock’n’roll image by indicating thatnwhen it was simple and natural, it possessedna certain vivacity which couldnserve as the basic stuff for a wholesomenmelodrama ^ the only culturalnfunction this kind of artistry and creativitynis meant to perform. Sentimentalistsnmay be silly, messy and shallow,nbut if they are sincere, nobody getsnhurt — neither culture, nor individualndestinies, nor human sensibilities.nWhen they become vehicles for halfbakednideologies, the breakdown ofnculture is inevitable. And this is whatnpresent-day Hollywood is all about. []]nThe American ScenenMotherly InstinctnIn Ladies’ Home fournal, Mrs. BettynFord revealed all her concern for herntwenty-one year old daughter Susan:n”I honestly don’t think she’s anywherennear ready to get married andnhave a baby,” she wrote, though, asnwe all know, and Mrs. Ford is as wellnprivy to it as we are, the second perilnhovers over the young, swinging setnthese days in this country. So in casenthe mishap strikes, Mrs. Ford has anmethod to deal with it which is welltestednin her circle: “I would want tontake her to a psychiatrist and see whatnhe thought about how she could handlenan abortion.”nThink Till the Very EndnMr. Jack Mabley correctly deplores,nin the Chicago Tribune, the tremendousnscope and staggering profits ofnthe pornography industry. Accordingnto his estimation, pornography grossesnmore these days than the motion picturenand record industries combined.niS5nChronicles of Culturen