Charlton Heston: Winning the Culture War

So the latest remake in the Planet of the Apes series seems to be a hit.  That reminds me of the original, which was really quite good (Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling  wrote the script).  That reminds me of Charlton Heston, who starred in the original, and said the famous “Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!” line.  That reminds me of a great speech Heston gave at Harvard Law School in 1999, where he excoriated political correctness, victim mentalities, and every other sort of social “gotcha” game that ends up facilitating a coarser, weaker world. 

I read a transcript of this my senior year in college, soon after the speech was given.  As a youth, like all good, young mass culture consumers, I was reflexively liberal, swallowing whole every bit of media indoctrination presented to me.  However, throughout my college years, a confluence of factors started to gel, and I started to see the world differently.  This speech was definitely one of those factors.  I immediately saw the wisdom in it.

Below is audio from YouTube.  This site has a transcript.  Audio is also available from Harvard Law here

Conan O’Brien Speaks at Dartmouth’s Graduation

I’m a big Conan O’Brien fan.  After all, he did write “Marge Vs. the Monorail” and “Homer Goes to College.” 

He’s given a couple of well-publicized commencement addresses before, such as one at Harvard in 2000, and one at Stuyvesant High School in 2006.  (Stuyvesant, by the way, is the school where Angela’s Ashes author Frank McCourt worked, and wrote about in the last part of Teacher Man.  O’Brien’s speech there was collected in The Best American Non-Required Reading 2007.) 

But as good as those were, his best work is this new one–funny as always, but also incredibly moving.  I’m sure non-fans don’t consider how hard the last year and a half have been on Conan–really, imagine the stress and humiliation for a moment.  However, that ordeal has surely given him something, and he shares it here. 

Video and text of the speech are at Dartmouth’s website here.  Video is also on YouTube.

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