Here come the real people : One of the signs that American film discourse has hit an all-time low (to say nothing of the discourse on race -- egad) is that Paul Haggis' Crash is being taken seriously. I have made my thoughts on this Best Picture Nominee (!!!) known, and don't want to spill any more virtual ink.

However, Roger Ebert's reply to Scott Foundas' Crash-bashing in the Slate Movie Club is particularly galling. Sure, Ebert has every right to embrace this preposterous roundelay, wherein sometimes our whitest sheet is a flapping flag of sweet surrender, and other times it's just a Klan robe. But his defense -- that "real people" have been moved by the film, and that it's starting some kind of national discussion about racism -- boggles my mind. First of all, how many times has The Rog backhanded that chimp across the aisle, admonishing, "We don't review audiences, Richard, we review films"?

More importantly, if we're going to start offering our support to films because of the nerve they touch in U.S. culture, aren't we (at least in part) capitulating to a rather debased standard of intellectual vitality? Sorry, I know I'm "too cool for the room," and an elitist to boot. (Trust me, at this point that particular punch just rolls off my chin.) But I mean seriously. Any half-baked idiotic film about race can start a national dialogue, just as any poorly-argued Bush-bashing "documentary" or maudlin, bloodletting devotional object, can get 'em talking around the water cooler. It's too easy, and Crash misses no intellectual shortcut or stereotype. It's a lowball pitched squarely to America's worst possible wheelhouse.

Can it really be 17 years since Do The Right Thing? Jesus H. Christ.