Suzanne Fields

"Mission: Impossible III" is a dumbed-down movie to reflect our times. Fireworks overpower plot and diminish character development, and in trying to humanize Tom Cruise by getting him a fiancee instead of merely a girlfriend, the moviemakers make him merely a robotic love comic hero. It's difficult to tell whether the star himself is running, jumping or climbing, or whether it's all just tricks of the masters of animation.

So what else is new? It's only a movie. Remakes of "Mission Impossible" have had none of the style or wit of the original television series, but they're troubling in the way they stunt the creative imagination with stunts. Technology determines the man rather than man the technology. (You almost long for the real-life Tom Cruise, leaping atop a sofa to scream at Oprah; that Tom Cruise at least showed human fallibility.)

The day after "Mission: Impossible III" opened across the country, President Bush gave a commencement speech addressing just how advances in science and technology transform lives. In speaking to the Class of '06 at Oklahoma State University, the president touched on the dilemmas and challenges posed for young men and women leaving the campus for real life.

"Science offers the prospect of eventual cures for terrible disease, and temptations to manipulate life and violate human dignity," he told them. "My advice is, harness the promise of technology without becoming slaves to technology. My advice is, ensure that science serves the cause of humanity, and not the other way around."

This is particularly provocative because it draws on lessons directly relating to human as well as political and economic values. A generation that grows up on dazzling high-tech entertainment spectacles is tempted to hide behind glib appreciation of the razzle-dazzle of boom and bombast without considering the ethical and moral underpinnings of society. Technology triumphs over verbal sophistication and philosophical rumination.

With the Internet, we communicate instantly with people around the world, but an obsession with computer connections interrupts the give and take of family connections. This changing world of high-tech manipulation, the president warned, "needs the anchor of old-fashioned values and virtues, like courage and compassion."

Suzanne Fields

Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton's 'Paradise Lost.'

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