- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Desperate’ values

“The New York Times recently made the alleged hypocrisy of red-state voters front-page news. A Bill Carter piece, which ran under the sneering headline ‘Many Who Voted for “Values” Still Like their Television Sin,’ observed that ABC’s show ‘Desperate Housewives’ ranks high in the Nielsen ratings in many red states. …

“But the Nielsen ratings for ‘Desperate Housewives’ reveal hypocrisy only if we incorrectly assume that everyone in red states voted; that everyone who voted in those states cast their ballots for Bush; and that all Bush voters were values voters. Consider the Salt Lake City market, where, Carter points out, ‘Bush rolled up 72.6 percent of the vote,’ even though ‘Desperate Housewives’ is fourth in the Nielsen ratings. … ‘Desperate Housewives’ has been garnering about 20 million viewers nationwide, roughly 9 percent of the adult population. Let’s assume that the proportion of viewers is the same in the Salt Lake City market — even though the program’s fourth-place showing in Salt Lake is lower than the show’s national average. Isn’t it possible, even likely, that the 38 percent of Utah adults who might have voted for Bush based on values, and the 9 percent of Utah adults who watch ‘Desperate Housewives,’ are, by and large, different people?”

Jeffrey Friedman, writing on “Not What They Do,” Monday in the New Republic Online at www.tnr.com

‘Proudly ignorant’

“With Britain’s Black Watch regiment camped in harm’s way outside of Baghdad, the spectacle of Labour members of Parliament going rabid about banning fox hunting must have looked, at any distance, impenetrably quaint. Overriding the House of Lords by invoking the Parliament Act for only the fourth time since it was passed in 1911, antihunt MPs successfully closed down a centuries-old sport firmly fixed in the international imagination as quintessentially British. …

“This ban is not about animal welfare but human warfare, and of the pettiest, ugliest sort. …

“Decrying fox hunting as a decadent diversion of the aristocracy, Labour is now in the saddle, and will hound the toffs in their poncy red outfits. … [M]ost ban advocates are proudly ignorant about the sport they would abolish, and have never been on a fox hunt.”

Lionel Shriver, writing on “Fox News,” Sunday in Opinion Journal at www.opinionjournal.com

TV virgins

“Since 1991, when Brenda lost her virginity with Dylan at the spring dance on ‘Beverly Hills, 90210,’ teenagers have been having sex on television. … In the past year alone, teenage characters have lost their virginity on ‘Summerland,’ ‘Veronica Mars.’ ‘Degrassi: The Next Generation,’ ‘Dead Like Me,’ ‘Life As We Know It,’ ‘The OC,’ ‘One Tree Hill,’ ‘7th Heaven,’ and ‘Gilmore Girls.’ That’s, like, a lot.

“The conventions of the Very Special Virginity episode are by now well-established: Articulate kids fret about the decision, and parents usually learn of it in some way, giving them the access they need to become the moral arbiter of the situation. Sex tends to be represented by both the parents (and the show) as forebodingly destructive — to the teens’ future, to their mental well-being, to the family unit. Needless to say, the relationship usually doesn’t last very long after it’s been consummated, with the reasons for the breakup ranging from unreturned phone calls to nervous breakdowns.”

Kate Aurthur, writing on “Virginity Lost,” Nov. 23 in Slate at www.slate.com

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