- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 11, 2001

Celebrity 'issues'

"New York Post columnist Rod Dreher questioned the good taste of 22-year-old singer Aaliyah's funeral procession down Fifth Avenue: 'A traffic-snarling, horse-drawn cortege in honor of a pop singer most people have never heard of? Give us a break!'

"In response [the Rev. Al] Sharpton called for a boycott of the Post and its advertisers. 'It was ugly and divisive. She was degraded,' he said.

"I can't think of a more important issue than celebrity funerals for a self-described black leader to be addressing now. Unless, of course, it is the absence of black faces on television, the pet cause of Kweisi Mfume, president of the NAACP.

"How much energy does the nation's largest black organization want to spend shoehorning an African-American best friend onto 'Dharma & Greg' or getting Clarence Page more face time on CNN? For three years, the NAACP has been making a major issue out of the prime-time lineup. Where is its crusade against the terrible state of education for black children?"

Katha Pollitt, writing on "Summer Follies," in the Sept. 17 issue of the Nation

Fairy-tale hopes

"Today's young Americans dream about walking down the aisle — and they have very high expectations of who'll be awaiting them at the other end. Ninety-four percent of single 20-somethings agree that when they marry, they want their spouse to be their 'soul mate, first and foremost,' and 87 percent expect to find that special someone, according to a study by the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University.

"The study reveals a generation of dreamy-eyed Americans. Young women today profess to have a lofty view of marital bliss: 81 percent say it is more important for them to have a husband who can communicate about his deepest feelings than one who makes a good living.

"Both young men and women agree that it's extremely important to be economically secure on one's own before getting married.

"Over half of the respondents say one of their biggest concerns about getting married is the possibility of divorce.

"Anxious to avoid the possibility of their own marital rupture, 44 percent of respondents say they have lived with a partner at some time in their lives. This is in line with the majority belief (62 percent) that cohabitation before marriage is a good way to avoid divorce."

Pamela Paul, writing on "SWF Seeks Soul Mate," in the September issue of American Demographics

Be his neighbor

"Mister Rogers — who taped his last episode of 'Mister Rogers' Neighborhood' at the age of 73 [the week before last] — strikes us as odd. Mister Rogers is a cultural artifact so bizarre that we have to think about him pretty hard to recognize what makes him inspire such devotion — and what simultaneously makes him so easy to mock, so oatmeal-bland to adults and so inspiring to children, so much so that some adults carry around his lessons for the rest of their lives.

"Here is the secret of Mister Rogers: He says exactly what he means and exactly what is true, and he says it for the consumption of a single, simple audience: children. He does so without regard to adult opinion of how old-fashioned his simplicity makes him appear. He is so committed to kids that he spends no time adjusting his performance to affect his profile in the popular culture of adults. He is, therefore, out of our time. Jarringly so.

"Language and attitude are now all about irony. We are not the TV generation or even the Internet generation. We are the sarcastic generation.

"And Fred Rogers is not sarcastic. He needs no posturing, no sly winks to the grownups that he knows how silly he must look. If you're over the age of 10, he doesn't really care what you think of him. And that's real power."

Michael Long, writing on "The Good Neighbor," Saturday in National Review Online at www.national review.org

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