- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 28, 2004

Expecting sleaze

“I miss Walt Disney.

“I thought about him during the Super Bowl halftime show — even before Justin Timberlake ripped Janet Jackson’s bustier off. … During the crotch-grabbing, bump-grinding, Spring-Break-meets-Bachelor-Party musical numbers that preceded theirs, I wondered what Walt — who insisted his actresses wear one-piece swimsuits in their beach scenes — would say. …

“The kind, firm entrepreneur with the trimmed mustache guarded America’s children throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s, a shepherd protecting his flock. …

“Viacom chairman and CEO Sumner Redstone … likes to brag that Viacom’s quasi-pornographic MTV, with over 300 million viewers, ‘has helped shape the culture of generations of young people across the globe.’ Yikes.

“It’s no secret that his empire orchestrated the Super Bowl festivities. Viacom owns both CBS and MTV. Apparently we’re now at the point where parents have to figure these things out, expect sleaze even in the most mainstream broadcasts, keep our fingers constantly on the remote, or hide the kids in a television-free zone.”

Christine Parsons, writing on “Missing Walt,” in the April-May issue of the American Enterprise

Name game

“If you change your name to your husband’s, how are you connected to your ancestors in the shtetl, or the potato famine, or the decks of the Mayflower? If you don’t change your name, how are you connected to the future, to your children and grandchildren? …

“In the late ‘70s and ‘80s people began to make what seems to be an enlightened compromise: hyphenating their names. … But hyphenating is socially irresponsible as well as aesthetically disastrous: What happens when Julian Hesser-Friend marries Tessa Rosenfeld-Cassidy? Their grandchildren could end up with great, long, loopy strings of names, their signatures spilling off the blanks of any form. If they sensibly lop off part and end up as ‘Hesser-Cassidys’ then they find themselves in the same quandary as we are. …

“In a way, the confusion and unwieldiness of the issue is a perfect metaphor for feminism’s limitations: We might prefer equal naming practices, but how in a practical sense could they be implemented?”

Katie Roiphe, writing on “The Maiden Name Debate,” March 16 in Slate at www.slate.com

Cinema symbol

“According to movie lore, one can kill a zombie by destroying its brain. But there is no way to kill the zombie metaphor. As a cinematic symbol of chaos, groupthink and generally uncivilized behavior, the ghoul is the most resilient and versatile monster around. It is infinitely and easily adaptable — a fact proven by the current, excellent ‘Dawn of the Dead’ remake, which pulls off the difficult trick of pouring new wine into an old bottle. …

“[T]he zombie inherently represents a collective threat — more accurately, a collectivist threat. … Unlike werewolves, vampires or Frankenstein’s monsters, which tend to be depicted as individuals … zombies have no personality, no living essence and no self-consciousness. …

“Perhaps the zombie has become even more widespread and terrifying during the past 100 years because the same period has seen the spread of democracy, secularism, demands for racial and sexual equality and the industrialized Western notion that social good flows from individual autonomy. The zombie represents a repudiation of all that. To gaze into its milky, bloodshot eyes is to witness the total loss of self, the surrender of autonomy to the crowd.”

Matt Zoller Seitz, writing on “No more room in hell,” in the March 24 issue of New York Press

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