Wednesday, March 3, 2004

No golden age

“[Betty] Friedan argued that ‘the comfortable concentration camp’ that was domestic life was denying women their identities, turning them into ‘anonymous biological robot in a docile mass.’ The only solution, she concluded, was to get them out of the house. …

“By the time I graduated from college, in 1983 — with, as it happens, Friedan as the commencement speaker — the polemical message of ‘The Feminine Mystique’ had been firmly established as the new orthodoxy. Almost without exception, my female classmates either went off to graduate school or found themselves jobs. If any of us harbored a desire to stay home in order to raise babies, we certainly didn’t admit it. … We were going to make careers for ourselves and fit our children around them. In the future, that’s just what mothers would do. …

“Things have turned out to be a lot more complicated than my classmates and I suspected. … [T]he consensus is that the golden age of female fulfillment that Friedan envisioned — ‘this may be the next step in human evolution,’ she wrote — hasn’t materialized.”

Elizabeth Kolbert, writing on “Mother Courage,” in the Sunday issue of the New Yorker

Amoral generation

“I think something’s really missing for American youth. … The whole of Generation Y is one that doesn’t really search for anything meaningful or substantial.

“Well, in the ‘80s there was the threat of nukes. … And before the Vietnam War, it seemed like the world was black and white: America is good, everyone else is bad. But then there were young American soldiers being sent over there to die for a meaningless cause, and it moved the country toward relativism — they realized that absolutism had flaws. Generation Y was raised by relativists — we were a generation raised with no morals. …

“The whole atmosphere has bred some really bizarre and morbid results. …

“Well, the birth-control pill probably did change everything. Now, by the end of high school, 80 percent of kids have had sex. It’s supposed to be making us happy. … But instead of freedom and liberation, why has it led to so much sadness and emptiness?”

Marty Beckerman, author and American University senior, interviewed by Rebecca Traister, Tuesday in Salon at

Kiwi cinema

“We are a remote country of 4 million people and modest financial resources. Three decades ago, we had nothing that could be called a film industry. Then, in 1978, the government established the New Zealand Film Commission. Today, we are taking home 11 Oscar statuettes … and ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’ is set to become the highest-grossing film of all time. …

“With ‘Lord of the Rings’ — the biggest film project in New Zealand up to that time — both the government and the commission recognized, even before the first movie was made, the opportunity that its success would have both for the film industry and for the economy generally. So the government put in place a range of leveraging activities and even gave Pete Hodgson, Minister of Research, Science and Technology, the additional portfolio of Minister for Lord of the Rings. …

“‘The Last Samurai’ came to New Zealand because ‘Rings’ had shown the studio, Warner Bros., that we could service such a complex project. …

“‘Whale Rider’ was produced thanks to the commission’s new Film Fund, which is designed to enable experienced New Zealand filmmakers to make big-budget films.”

Ruth Harley, writing on “Seven Keys to Kiwi Power,” Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal

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