- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 11, 2000

‘Lonely being alone’

“On television, it’s a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman in possession of a good face and a decent body … must be in search of a man.

“Thus we have either the suspiciously slutty, dysthymic vixens of ‘Sex and the City’ or the neurotic self-loathing of Ally McBeal… .

“The last thing any woman writing on this topic wants to do is recreate the Newsweek debacle of 1986, when that magazine told women over 40 that they had about as much chance of getting married as of being murdered by a terrorist thereby not so subtly conflating the two fates but the fact is it’s lonely being alone, whether you’re a man or a woman.”

Rebecca Johnson, writing on “Picky, Picky, Picky: The Dilemma of the New Single Woman,” in the September issue of Talk

Admissions fever

“During the three years I spent as an admissions officer at Duke, lots of things surprised me: how competitive the admissions process at selective institutions really is, how decisions are actually made … the cottage industry that has sprung up to prey upon the fears and anxieties of parents and applicants, and … the intense involvement of parents … .

“Parents today tour the country with children in tow, looking for the right fit. Whose idea of what fits, however, is sometimes in question. More than a few times, I had the experience of asking questions of an applicant and being answered by a parent. Of having to tell parents they couldn’t come into interviews with their kids. Of calling for questions at the end of information sessions, and getting them, most often from parents rather than applicants … .

“[When I first started] answering the random telephone calls that stream into the admissions office and I got the ‘elementary school question’ I was horrified. ‘We just moved to Durham,’ said the mom. ‘Which elementary school should we send our son to if we want to get him into Duke?’

“The frequency of that question began to upset me. So did: ‘How can I best prepare my second grader for the SAT?’ Those parents weren’t joking.”

Rachel Toor, writing on “Pushy Parents and Other Tales of the Admissions Game” in the Oct. 6 Chronicle of Higher Education

Non-music TV

“Ask people what they think of first when MTV is mentioned, and they will probably say ‘music videos’ understandable when you consider that MTV stands for ‘Music Television.’ Indeed, the recording industry and MTV are inseparable.

“The channel is crucial for the manufacture of new stars (most recently the bubblegum queens Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears and the ugly-spirited white rapper Eminem) and the preservation of its own, now-venerable Hall of Famers (like Madonna, the first enduring superstar of the MTV era).

“But most of MTV’s broadcast day is taken up with other programming, and has been for more than a decade. Despite its name, the channel is not really dedicated to music and never has been. It’s always been about cool, although the kind of cool it attempts to define has shifted radically since it first went on the air in 1981… .

“At the time of its founding, MTV’s target demographic was the 20-something crowd, which was then preoccupied with ideas left over from the 1960s about the transcendent power of the two media that had coalesced to form the music video artsy rock and artsy film… .

“The channel’s avant-garde effect gave way in the 1990s to a giggly and sophomoric tone devoted almost entirely to sex and titillation, which must seem like the height of sophistication to an 11-year-old in Terra Haute [Indiana] looking for the secret to appearing older.”

John Podhoretz, writing on “Id TV,” in the Oct. 23 issue of National Review

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