- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 25, 2005

Culture clash

“The original ‘Yours, Mine and Ours’ was made in 1968, starring Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball. Back then blended families were not as common as they are in today’s divorce-wracked culture. The story of a widow with eight children marrying a widower with 10 hinged on the complications of living in a 20-person family, from large-scale sibling rivalry issues to the high cost of buying groceries.

“Today’s remake, starring Dennis Quaid and Rene Russo, not content with the inherent drama of ordinary family life, throws in the culture wars.

“The dad is a Coast Guard admiral, who … organizes his kids to keep the household shipshape. The mom is an artsy hippie who believes ‘homes are for free expression.’ …

“Instead of living characters, we have cultural stereotypes. The ideological clash is portrayed as if it really shouldn’t matter and so is never resolved, while still overwhelming the warmer family themes. Forget the remake and rent the original.”

— Gene Edward Veith, writing on “Yours, Mine and Ours,” in the Dec. 24 issue of World

Boy power

“Maybe I wasn’t alone among fans of C.S. Lewis when I feared that the modern concept of in-your-face girl power might make the trip through the wardrobe in the new Hollywood adaptation of the first novel in the ‘Narnia’ series. Think ‘The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe’ meets ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer.’ Would Susan and Lucy join their brothers in combat, smiting the enemy hip and thigh? But luckily, I had no need to fear. Somehow, ‘Narnia’ proved invulnerable to politically correct notions of gender. …

“On screen and on the page, the boys become men by risking themselves for the sake of Narnia and for their sisters. They must be prepared to sacrifice themselves if necessary.

“Peter first draws blood and makes an initial move from boyhood to manhood when he has to save his sister Susan from a wolf. There’s more to this scene than a simple rescue, however. Good creatures of the forest move to save the daughter of Eve, but Aslan waves them back. ‘Let the Prince win his spurs. … ‘ The boy must show what he’s made of. …

“Susan and Lucy are not bit characters; Lewis does not neglect their growth from girls to nurturing, caring women of strength. Throughout the movie, they prove that they do not lack courage. …

“[T]hankfully, Narnia’s real message of empowerment for both boys and girls made it to the screen.”

— R. Andrew Newman, writing on “Gentleman Lewis,” Tuesday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

Female chauvinism

“[F]eminists … increasingly recognize that gender inequality today has more to do with sex roles in the family than sex discrimination in the workplace. As former Brandeis visiting professor Linda Hirshman puts it … in this month’s American Prospect magazine: ‘The real glass ceiling is at home.’

“For years, most feminists have stressed respect for women’s choices. Now comes Hirshman, saying that ‘choice feminism’ was a mistake. Feminism, she argues, needs to become more judgmental and tell traditional women that their choices are bad for society … and bad for them because the lives they’re leading allow too few opportunities for ‘full human flourishing.’ …

“Hirshman’s tone is insufferably patronizing: women, she laments, think they’re making free choices and never realize that their lives are shaped by traditional sex roles and by feminism’s failure to revolutionize the family.”

— Cathy Young, writing on “Feminism Revisited,” Dec. 19 in the Boston Globe

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