- The Washington Times - Monday, June 27, 2005

TV to movies

“What is the connection between the following titles: ‘Bewitched,’ ‘The Dukes of Hazzard,’ ‘Get Smart,’ ‘I Dream of Jeannie’? First, they are all current or forthcoming features on the movies schedule. Second, you cannot imagine yourself actually cranking up the physical desire to go and see any of them.

“Millions of us will see them, of course, thanks to that mysterious, lemminglike blend of hope, communal obligation, and cranial vacancy that sends us to any film nowadays, but will we take a seat with the same fizz of expectation that was fostered by the original shows on TV? In short, how do you solve a problem like Samantha?”

—Anthony Lane, writing on “Bewildered,” in the June 27 issue of the New Yorker

Fatherless boys

“Boys’ need for good role models is drastically apparent in our central cities. … By 1995, the number of black out-of-wedlock births hovered around an astounding 70 percent; Hispanics had a rate of about 42 percent; whites were at 21 percent. … My personal opinion is that these familial changes have had a harsher impact on boys than on girls — who at least have their same-sex parent around to identify with.

“It’s crucial for a boy to have an identity as a positive figure in society — rather than just someone who tries to avoid being an obstacle to female-defined success. …

“Sooner or later, our culture will have to confront the problem of absent fathers — especially as it exists in our minority communities. Because of political pressure not to treat it as a cultural problem (‘it is merely differentness‘), the single-parent childhood has spiraled out of control. Single parents may be valued by ‘multiculturalists,’ but I can tell you that the boys I taught [in public schools in Harlem and the Bronx] yearned powerfully for their fathers, and a home where both parents were present.”

—Matthew Clavel, writing on “Save the Males,’ in the July/August issue of the American Enterprise

‘Freak show’

“The Michael Jackson trial was a freak show. The longest-running opera of oddity ever to be played out before the American people finally ended … with 10 not-guilty verdicts. The star of our show, the Pale Prince of Peculiarity, then left the courthouse under his black umbrella for the last time. …

“Can I be any clearer about my amazed disgust at the amount of ink and TV time this show/trial consumed? At the amount of intellectual house-room it took up? Thank God it’s over, how’s that? … The cable-news buzzards … were all over it. Not-guilty roadkill isn’t quite as tasty — or as bloody — as guilty roadkill, but it’ll do.

“It hurts more to see a smart journalist like Jeffrey Toobin keeping his eye on the black umbrella for CNN. Here’s a man in the prime of his creative life and in command of what are clearly prodigious talents, and what he spent over a year doing with them was analyzing the legal struggles of an aging pop star accused of fondling little boys. …

“Ah, but it doesn’t matter now. The Pale Peculiarity has floated out of the courthouse to his black SUV for the last time. The sideshow has moved on.”

—Stephen King, writing on “The Sideshow Has Left Town,” in the June 24 issue of Entertainment Weekly

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