- The Washington Times - Monday, February 2, 2004

Bourgeois buddies

“Though ‘Friends’ lacked the hard edges of ‘Sex and the City,’ it too mined (more cheerfully) the strange-bedfellows theme, following six attractive friends trying to make their way in the big city through the thicket of sex and its attendant entanglements. …

“What these characters long for is middle-class commitment and respectability. In recent years, the screenwriters have been eager to oblige, sending Chandler and Monica down the aisle a few seasons back, promoting the coming wedding of Phoebe and teasing us about a possible wedding between Rachel and Ross — or will it be Rachel and Joey? So much for the original premise, about how men and women can be friends without getting involved.

“On May 6, NBC will air the final episode. … When it does, at least half the ‘Friends’ cast will have already been dispatched to married-ever-after endings, and the public is clearly rooting for the same to happen to Ross and Rachel. … [A] show that began with single life in the city seems to be directing everyone to the altar, babies — and suburbia.”

from “Old ‘Friends,’” an editorial Friday in the Wall Street Journal

Unredeemed

“When Adeeb Berakat, a 35-year-old Palestinian in Jenin, watched the now-famous footage of a captured and docile-appearing Saddam [Hussein] being inspected for lice, he became angry. … ‘As he has been asking the people to fight … he should have fought himself. If he did not fight, he should have killed himself.’ …

“Saddam Hussein is only the latest in a series of mock heroes of the region who have assumed a posture of strong, cunning and courageous leadership, only to lead their Pan-Arabist followers to catastrophe. … While many Arabs welcomed Saddam’s capture, others had at least hoped for redemption in Saddam’s resistance and death. [W]hat they got was a bedraggled old man hiding in a dark hole … calling to his discoverers, ‘Don’t shoot!’

“The historical and cultural model of the courageous Arab redeemer could hardly stand in greater contrast. That figure is fearless, whether in the face of the enemy or of death itself.”

Charles Paul Freund, writing on “Waiting for Antar,” in the March issue of Reason

Family fare

“I took the kids to see the new Steve Martin movie ‘Cheaper by the Dozen.’ The movie is a typical Steve Martin vehicle — as pleasant and unobjectionable as soft candy, and just about as nutritious, a mix of mild sappiness and ‘cute’ humor, harmless, amusing in a smiley rather than laughey sort of way. … This one is about a couple who have 12 kids. …

“Anyway, there I was watching this thing … when suddenly the thought struck me: I am watching a philoprogenitive movie. Now this, it seemed to me, is a wonderful thing. The premise of most of our cultural artifacts today is that adult concerns … are supremely important. Kids are a kind of accessory, existing mainly to garnish adult egos. One or two kids is just fine; more than that would just be too much of a demand on adults’ precious time and absorbing careers. Yet here was a movie about a nonrich loving couple with 12 of the little nose pickers running ‘round. The whole idea seems to go against the grain of our culture somehow. How refreshing!”

John Derbyshire, writing on “Philoprogenitive movie,” Friday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

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