The Breakfast Table

Adam and Eve and other Mergers

Dear David,

As much as I regret to say it, the do-gooder liberals in Legal Aid clinics were the ones responsible for springing mentally ill people from institutions (which admittedly had horrible problems of their own). I still remember in law school some of my dedicated classmates successfully filed a class action suit against the State of Illinois, alleging that a group of “sexually dangerous” mental health patients had been institutionalized without due process. My classmates were very proud of themselves. Me, I chose to move to Washington. I will admit that most liberals fought for de-institutionalization under the misguided theory that patients would then find a benign safety net in small halfway houses snuggled into loving communities. The funding for this safety net never materialized (duh), in part because of the conservatives (who believe that human life begins at conception and ends at birth).

As for the effect of obesity on sound–I’d be willing to vote yes solely on the
basis of Stubby Kaye. And I’m with you on the Nazis. My husband and I have been debating since college the issue of whether art and morality can be separated. I’m on the side that says “No!” Hence, the Movie Mom book, in part of which I talk about using movies to help families talk about sensitive and complicated subjects. I think people should think about what they see. And I know that parents who didn’t grow up the way you and I did, watching every movie we could and memorizing Leslie Halliwell and Pauline Kael, need some help in guiding their kids through the media onslaught. Older teens and twenty-somethings have told me that they regret their parents’ allowing them to see anything they wanted, that it made them feel that their parents were not making enough of an effort to protect them. Having your mom rent an R-rated movie for you is entirely different from being old enough and motivated enough to seek out one on your own, the thrill of disobedience and independence as much a part of the adventure as watching the movie. All I want is to be able to help parents make the decisions that are right for them and right for their children. My 14 year old son, whose tolerance for scary movies is way beyond mine, asked me to organize a “SuspenseFest” for him. I began with comic horror, like Poltergeist and Arachnophobia, and once I saw how well he handled it (I sometimes saw it from another room as I still avoid the oooky parts), I moved onto Psycho and others. Meanwhile, my daughter, who is 12, only likes MGM musicals and broad comedy, so I am lucky that I know enough about movies to keep her happy with The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming and It’s Always Fair Weather.

Two final tidbits – In today’s Wall Street Journal there is a great story about AT&T’s attempts to find an advertising campaign to calm consumers who might be concerned that the merger with cable company TCI will be a nightmare of Byzantine complexity. It’s fun to see the different pitches from a variety of advertising agencies. One proposes joint celebrity spokespeople: Jim Carrey and Helen Hunt, who would somehow convey the idea that different styles can result in a constructive combination. And another one uses a drawing of Adam and Eve to suggest that their “merger” led to “unprecedented increases in jobs, wages, and housing, as well as a global telecommunications revolution and technological advances the likes of which the world had never seen.” The advertising agency’s CEO explains that like Adam and Eve, the AT&T/TCI merger is controversial but, as the Journal notes without shame, “ultimately fruitful.” Andwhen I was in NY on Friday, I picked up a copy of the New York Blade, which had an article about a store specializing in lesbian sex toys. I was quite taken with the owner’s comment that “When we started this business, we sold a lot of goddess dildos, because people were feeling they had to be very spiritual about sex in order to feel good about it. Now people take pride in getting down and dirty.” But what I really love is the name of the store: “Toys in Babeland.”