- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 2, 2004

Progressive princess

“When my daughter turned 2, among the gifts she received were a doll and a fire truck. It was that bright-red plastic emergency vehicle that captured her attention for days on end, while the doll, for the most part, languished atop a pile of untouched stuffed animals. … Progressive parents that we are, my wife and I saw this as vindication of the decision we’d made … that we would not outfit our child’s world in the trappings of traditional girldom. …

“A year later, that truck is gathering dust in the bottom of a closet and Bryn has openly expressed her desire to live in a pink castle. It all began when “Dora the Explorer” betrayed us.

“I’d always been somewhat pleased that the cartoon character my daughter latched onto was the intelligent, intrepid Dora. For four seasons on Nickelodeon … this school-age Latina role model eschewed nearly every girly-girl gender stereotype. … Dora’s brain is touted as her main asset … but she’s also ruggedly athletic. …

“Then last month came ‘Dora’s Fairytale Adventure’ a feature-length Nickelodeon special … in which our heroine visits Fairytale Land and goes on a quest to become a ‘True Princess.’ By the end, her tomboy bob has been magically transformed into flowing Rapunzel-length locks and she’s suddenly clad in a shimmery, puffed-out yellow ball gown. … Then she flies off on a unicorn with a rainbow-striped mane. Seriously. It was at this point in the program that my daughter … placed a pink shoe-box crown on her head and started twirling around, saying, ‘I’m a princess!’”

Christopher Healy, writing on “A nation of little princesses,” Nov. 24 in Salon at www.salon.com

Rather comical

“[I]f America is rich enough to give around $7 million a year to not one but three different humans who have a job the Brits accurately call ‘newsreader,’ then certainly we have more than paid for the right to laugh like pitiless hyenas at the sight of the great Dan Rather slinking away from his enviable post. …

“What irked me about Rather was that he was one of journalism’s all-time great self-flagellators, always eager to confess blame for the declining standards of the trade, always making sure to spread that blame out nice and thick on the rest of us … and always showing up on time to collect his seven-figure paycheck.”

Matt Welch, writing on “Song for Dan Rather,” Monday in Reason Online at www.reason.com

Epic farce

“According to one online critic, ‘Alexander’ is a flop because he is ‘as gay as a maypole.’ Christians considering seeing the film have even been urged to ‘speak to your pastors immediately because Satan is attempting to enter your mind.’

“At the other end of the spectrum, militant gay groups are condemning [director Oliver] Stone for not being more explicit in his depiction of the gay love affair — there is not even a kiss between [Colin] Farrell and his co-star Jared Leto, while Alexander and his wife Roxane, played by Rosario Dawson, share a graphic sex scene.

“Adding to the circus have been the protests of a group of Greek lawyers who are threatening to sue Warner Bros. over the film’s suggestion of Alexander’s bisexuality. …

“Rather than boosting the film’s popularity, however, the publicity and the Greeks’ entry into the protests have had the effect of turning the entire project into something of a farce.”

John Hiscock and James Burleigh, writing on “Alexander the (not so) Great fails to conquer America’s homophobes,” Monday in the Independent of London

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