- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Better TV

“[W]hen I look back at the television lineups from the 1970s, I don’t see a lot of psychological depth or complex social analysis. I see ‘CHiPs.’ At the high end of the spectrum, I don’t see anything from 30 years ago that rivals the genuinely novelistic scale and originality of ‘The Sopranos’ and ‘Six Feet Under,’ the dark satire of ‘Arrested Development’ or ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm.’ … I like ‘Soap’ and ‘M*A*S*H’ as much as the next person, but I’ll happily take the more formulaic sitcoms today — ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ or ‘King Of Queens’ — over the generally awfully Garry Marshall sitcoms that dominated the ratings back then. … Doesn’t everyone know that today’s TV is better than yesterday’s TV? … Is there anyone who prefers ‘Hill Street Blues,’ which … was one of the best dramas of the 1980s, to ‘The West Wing’ or ‘ER’ or ‘The Sopranos’? I imagine only the very nostalgic would say they do. …

“I’m trying to combat the tiresome idea that we live in an age where cheap pleasures and instant gratifications are on the rise, and subtlety and complexity are growing increasingly obsolete. In fact, the trends all point in the opposite direction.”

—Steven Johnson, writing on “TV Junkies Are Exercising Their Minds More Than Ever,” Friday in Slate at www.slate.com

Bizarre parenthood

“For connoisseurs of the bizarre, Michael Jackson’s life story has been an embarrassment of riches. … But the most arresting fact in Michael Jackson’s biography has occasioned surprisingly little comment: He is the first male celebrity to have a child who has no mother — and, it seems, never had one.

“As we have all heard, the mother of Jackson’s daughter and one of his sons is Debbie Rowe. … Although Rowe claims, and it is generally presumed, that conception of their two children took place via artificial insemination, Rowe was legally married to Jackson from 1996 to 2001. …

“Having agreed to terminate her parental rights in 2001, Rowe is now fighting to have them reinstated.

“Jackson could not bring himself to share the experience of parenthood, even minimally. …

“Martin Bashir’s film recounts a conversation Bashir had with Jackson’s older son, Prince Michael I. Asked, ‘Where is your mummy?’ the boy answered, ‘I haven’t got a mother.’ … If you think it would be strange to have Michael Jackson as your dad, imagine what it would be like to learn that under the law of the state of California he is also your natural mother.”

—Joyce Milton, writing on “Your Momma Is the King of Pop,” Thursday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

Dworkin revisited

“Much has been written about the passing of controversial feminist theorist Andrea Dworkin. From the left and the right, her legacy has been shredded by critics who waited out Dworkin’s prolonged illness to drive their sharpened axes into the neck of her corpse. …

“Despite being an extreme leftist, she saw pornography and sexual licentiousness as what they were: fake solutions to real problems, roads to perdition. Dworkin, for all her considerable faults, understood that the debasing of sex would lead to debauched values and, eventually, the erosion of both the nuclear family and the culture itself.”

—Anthony Gancarski, writing on “Andrea Dworkin: Culture Warrior?” in the May 23 issue of the American Conservative

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