Friday, February 12, 2010

Too much death

“Last night I was flipping through the channels on my TV, and I noticed that one of the HBOs was showing ‘Schindler’s List,’ Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece about the plight of the Jews in Germany during the Holocaust. This isn’t the first time it’s been on HBO; it’s actually been in something of a constant rotation over the last few months. For some reason, it just didn’t sit well with me, and I started trying to noodle through why. …

“I think in part it has to do with the aura that surrounded this film upon its release and its initial foray into television sets. Do you remember its initial screening on NBC? I do. It was presented ‘with limited commercial interruptions’ (by Ford, I believe), and presented in its entirety, nudity and all. This was on a broadcast channel, mind you: It was a big deal. And it should be a big deal: It’s an intense film about the suffering of an entire race of people.

“But here it is today, playing on a cycle on HBO alongside ‘12 Rounds,’ the latest entry from WWE star John Cena. This bothered me a little. Do the programmers at HBO see ‘Schindler’s List’ as something that people want to jump in and out of, as they do with other HBO regulars? Remember when they were playing ‘Anchorman’ on what felt like a loop? That’s a movie that you can pop in and out of. ‘Office Space’ is the same way. But ‘Schindler’s List’?”

Sonny Bunch, writing on ” ‘Schindler’s List’ and HBO,” on Feb. 11 at the America’s Future blog Conventional Folly.

Too much sex

“Welcome to the New Paleolithic, where tens of thousands of years of human mating practices have swirled into oblivion like shampoo down the shower drain and Cro-Magnons once again drag women by the hair into their caves and the women love every minute of it.

“Louts who might as well be clad in bearskins and wielding spears trample over every nicety developed over millennia to mark out a ritual of courtship as a prelude to sex: Not just marriage (that went years ago with the sexual revolution and the mass-marketing of the birth-control pill) or formal dating (the hookup culture finished that), but amorous preliminaries and other civilities once regarded as elementary, at least among the college-educated classes.

“On top of it all is the feminist-driven academic and journalistic culture celebrating that yesterday’s loose women are today’s liberated women, able to proudly explore their sexuality without getting punished for their lust, as the feminist writer Naomi Wolf put it in the Guardian in December.

In other words, if people call you a whore because you, say, fall into bed with someone whose name you can’t quite remember, that’s their problem. Of course, if a man mistakes a woman being sexual in any way she chooses for consent to have sex, it’s still rape.”

Charlotte Allen, writing on “The New Dating Game,” on Feb. 15 at the Weekly Standard

Too much money

“Although the most commonly discussed forms of limits are natural, the idea of moral limits has rapidly gained ground with the economic downturn from 2008 onwards. One of the most articulate exponents of this approach is Kurt Andersen, an American writer who first floated the idea of moral limits to growth in a Time magazine cover story last year. Since then he has expanded on the theme in Reset, his New York Times best-seller on the subject.

“For Andersen, the economic crisis is a result of moral laxity: ‘We’ve brought about the current crisis through a quarter of a century of self-destructive financial excess and reckless overdependence on debt and fossil fuels.’ As a solution he proposes a ‘Seven Step Program for America’ modeled on the 12 steps followed by Alcoholics Anonymous. …

“The elitist character of his outlook is revealed by an off-hand remark on Homer Simpson. ‘The popular culture tried to warn us. For 20 years now, we have had Homer Simpson’s spot-on caricature of the quintessential American childish, irresponsible, wilfully oblivious, fat and happy.’ The implication is that ordinary Americans are dumb kids who need enlightened individuals such as Andersen to tell them how to behave.”

Daniel Ben-Ami, writing on “In Defense of Abundance,” in the January 2010 Spiked Review of Books

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