- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 2, 2000

Romantic teens

"[S]everal recent Hollywood films dealing with high school culture have focused on the theme of teen-age sexual reticence. One, Raja Gosnell's 'Never Been Kissed,' actually centers on a character determined to save herself for marriage. Two others, 'She's All That' and '10 Things I Hate About You,' boast heroes and heroines who negotiate a dangerous labyrinth of high school sexual intrigue with hefty guards up.
"Curiously, a great deal of the ingenuous charm of these three movies involves watching the main characters fall in love without succumbing to lust. In fact, they never land in bed. Rather they court and in an environment seemingly inimical to the very idea of courtly love. How do they manage it? With the help of literature and the fine arts particularly with the help of Shakespeare.
"Certainly, the parents and teachers portrayed in these movies offer almost no aid to young people in the arena of romance; most are more brutish and sexually confused than the kids entrusted to their care.
"And here, of course, Hollywood has picked up on a cruel reality of our times. Never in the history of human culture have young people been left so totally to their own devices in matters of romance."
Dana Mack, writing on "Hollywood teaches teens of courtly love," in Monday's USA Today

No effect?

"As documented in [Robert Bork's book] "Slouching Towards Gomorrah," those who suggest there's no connection between what our kids see and hear and how they act are dead wrong. Studies show a direct, causal relationship between the violence portrayed in movies, magazines, and music and violent behavior. However, common sense should suffice.
"Billions of advertising dollars are spent each year on the premise that behavior will be impacted. As noted by Bork, music 'is being used everywhere to create attitudes armies use martial music, couples listen to romantic music, churches use organs, choirs, and hymns. How can anyone suppose that music (plus the images of television, movies, advertisements) about sex and violence has no effect?' "
Hank Hanegraaff, writing on "America's Media Culture Breeds Dangerous Youth Cults," in the January issue of Christian Research Report

Spiritual void

"Nine months ago, two seemingly ordinary boys from normal middle-class families walked into their high school in an affluent suburb of Denver and shot and killed 12 of their classmates and a teacher before finally turning their guns on themselves. It was a watershed moment in contemporary American life, a definitive fall from innocence that made parents and teachers look on their kids with unfamiliar feelings of anxiety and doubt… .
"What troubled Americans about Columbine was the combination of the extraordinarily willful viciousness of the massacre and the very ordinary middle-classness of its perpetrators and its setting… .
"Columbine made us wonder if we had been in denial about some sickness at the heart of the middle-class culture that most American kids know as reality. 'Where were the parents?' many people asked, bewildered at how two teen-agers could build up an arsenal in their own bedrooms without their mother or father knowing. 'What kind of schools have we created?' others wondered, on hearing that the two were making videos and writing essays for school about their vile fantasies without anyone being particularly impressed… .
"Columbine may reflect a spiritual and emotional void within contemporary middle-class culture, into which troubled teen-agers can easily pour their most grotesque and often rage-filled fantasies."
Kay S. Hymowitz, writing on "What's Wrong With the Kids?" in the Winter issue of City Journal

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