The Thinking 

Popular culture

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From ‘Father Knows Best’ to ‘Dad’s a Fool’

December 11, 2012


JODI writes:

I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now and quite like what I see. It is refreshing to read common sense for a change. Thank you for your effort to be a light in this dark, ugly world.

I found this image on a friend’s site today. Is it just me or do these men look completely stripped of their manhood? They look so uncomfortable and out of place. Don’t get me wrong, I love when my husband cares for our son. When my son was a small baby like the babes being worn in this picture, there was no way he’d be alone with daddy — I had to nurse him. Now that my son is over a year old he loves to play with dad, but they bond in a much different way than with me.

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An Actress in Babylon

October 25, 2012


WHAT happens to a woman as lovely, talented and patrician as Helena Bonham Carter when she embraces modern Hollywood? She becomes a raging nihilist. See Kidist Paulos Asrat’s post on Bonham Carter’s latest role as Miss Havisham in a remake of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. Forty horses couldn’t drag me to see this movie.

Remember how charming Bonham Carter was as Lucy Honeychurch in the film version of E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View? She’s now more Medusa with snakes in her hair than Miss Honeychurch.

Bonham Carter with What's His Name, her partner in crime

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The Sesamization of America

October 9, 2012


DANIEL S. writes:

I never much thought much about the negative social impact of the PBS children’s program Sesame Street, but Mark Steyn, in writing about Romney’s recent debate performance, states:

Unlike Mitt, I loathe Sesame Street. It bears primary responsibility for what the Canadian blogger Binky calls the de-monsterization of childhood – the idea that there are no evil monsters out there at the edges of the map, just shaggy creatures who look a little funny and can sometimes be a bit grouchy about it because people prejudge them until they learn to celebrate diversity and help Cranky the Friendly Monster go recycling. Read More »


Singing to the Bee Gees

May 16, 2012


PAUL writes:

Here is a sweet vision of young children in 2009 singing to two men that are close to their great-grandfathers’ age. (Go to minute 2:04 in the video.)

Of course, they are the vital surviving members of the Bee Gees, an unsurpassed ’60s-’70s rock group. Notice the difference between 2009 and 1968. I Started a Joke was a huge hit.

How different from Rap.


“I Saw You”

December 3, 2011



Readers of The Thinking Housewife might recall the Swedish vocal quartet Kraja. It seems that the four young women are still singing and have issued their third album. Here is a Swedish television performance showing that they have kept their youthful grace from earlier appearances and have not succumbed to crass commercialization:

“Jag sag dig” means simply “I saw you.” The lyrics express the emotions of a girl who has been deeply and chastely moved by the sight of a young man.


Songs of Loyalty and Love

November 9, 2011



Eydie Gormé

ALAN writes:

To a certain extent, your blog is a chronicle of loss – of common sense, moral principles, cultural standards, beauty, decency, manners, restraint, elegance, patriotism, strong families, respect for elders, and respect for the past, among other things; and a plea for the restoration of those things, a goal with which I wholeheartedly agree. 

Another thing Americans have lost is popular music that is cheerful, engaging, uplifting, memorable, and easy to sing along with; ballads with lovely melodies and sentimental lyrics; and songs that celebrate the virtues of marriage, family life, parenthood, self-restraint, and loyalty.  

Consider these examples from an American culture now vanished:  Read More »


Ozzie and Harriet

February 19, 2011



ALAN writes:

Regarding the tolerant feminist who called you  an “ignorant housewife from the Ozzie and Harriet era,” your response was perfect.  But you should also feel honored (I certainly would) to be criticized in company with Ozzie and Harriet.   

Because of decades of radical-leftist propaganda, many of your readers might not know the truth about Ozzie and Harriet.  So permit me to share it. 

Ozzie and Harriet Nelson were talented entertainers who provided music and clean, wholesome entertainment to Americans for more than three decades.   Harriet was a talented singer and actress.  Ozzie was a talented musician, writer, actor, and director. Their radio and television programs were well-written, finely-crafted comedy entertainment suitable for the whole family.  Their programs honored and respected the American family, never belittled or derided it.  

Respect for parents and elders, courtesy, good manners, good grooming, proper dress, good sportsmanship, self-restraint, and gentle humor are some of the values that Ozzie chose to depict consistently in those programs over nearly a quarter-century.   The Nelson family did not shout or speak in jive talk or smart-aleck manner.  They spoke English clearly, in complete sentences, and in civil tones of conversation.   Their characters were disciplined and principled.  Each of them in turn became a target of gentle, self-effacing humor.  Never did Ozzie resort to cheap tricks, sarcasm or insults between characters, or off-color language or humor.   Read More »


Reality Shows and the Longing for Normalcy

May 28, 2010



Eric writes in the entry on feminism and cooking that, “I am noticing a lot of cooking-type reality shows…I wonder how Hollywood turned meal preparation into a gladiatorial competition.” As a fan of cooking shows (though not the “reality” versions in which loud-mouthed, vulgar chefs abusively deride younger, less experienced ones), I used to wonder the same thing. But it’s not so complicated, really. The entertainment industry is now, much as it has always been, in the “dream” business. Selling visions of people’s dreams back to them is what television has been about for quite some time now, and even the element of competition is not so new, with game shows being one of the oldest and most successful kinds of programming. Look around at the prime time competition shows today and what do you see?

You see The Biggest Loser, a show about a competition in which people get to become rich and famous while losing lots of weight. Whoever thought of this wildly popular show—which has now spawned a line of books, food, videos, clothing, etc.—understands America better than most of us would care to admit. Read More »


Songs of Marriage and Blue Skies

May 27, 2010



Aficionados of The Thinking Housewife do not need to be reminded how degraded commercial culture in Europe and North America has become, how a pornographic esthetic that sexualizes everything has pervaded all forms of mass entertainment including those aimed at children and teenagers. Those aficionados will be sadly familiar with the endless succession of tarted-up adolescent songstresses marketed in glitzy style by cynical promoters to young predominantly female audiences. When any counter-phenomenon appears, it is therefore worthy of note. Read More »


It’s a Wonderful Life

December 13, 2009


Fitzgerald writes:

I’m watching one of my all time favorites movies, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, and even though I’ve seen it easily 20 times I still find it compelling and most importantly, inspiring.

"It's A Wonderful Life" Jimmy Stewart 1947  RKO / **I.V. 

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Is TV all Bad for Kids?

November 3, 2009


ANNIE writes in response to the post The Cheapest Babysitter in Town:

Do you think that any TV at all is bad for a two-year-old? I am really wondering what your personal opinion is. I was in agony when my little boy started watching TV around the time he turned one! I wanted to fight my husband on this to the bitter end. He was raised watching LOTS of  TV which I believe is what caused his habitual drug use as a teenager. He thought I was crazy until we did a little experiment; no TV for the baby for a whole week. And what results! He went from being an aggressive, mean, crying baby to a happy, sweet, easily contented baby, like the one I knew before the TV watching began.

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The Cheapest Babysitter in Town

November 2, 2009


Children between the ages of 2 and 5 spend more than four hours a day watching TV and playing video games, according to a New York Times article on the latest surveys by Nielsen. This is the highest figure ever.

Electronic entertainment is the cheapest and easiest way to entertain young children. As neighborhod life declines, families grow smaller, and adults grow busier, the electronic babysitter seems a virtual necessity. What’s wrong with that? The mind of the child is the father of the future. Visual entertainment stunts the imagination. It weakens the will and creates hostility to word and thought.


A Nihilist at the Opera

October 28, 2009

The eroticism of this photograph of Finnish soprano Karita Mattila in the title role of the Metropolitan Opera’s new production of Puccini’s Tosca, one of the most beloved of Italian operas, gives you some idea of what it’s like when one of today’s hip nihilists takes over a traditional art form. This production was booed by Met fans on its opening night in September and after seeing it in a movie theater last night, I understood why. The sets are dark, sterile and chilling. The characters depart from the text and the whole thing is perversely sexual. It sneers at the famous romance of Tosca with pornographic embellishments.

In Act I, Cavadorossi, the painter played here by Marcelo Álvarez, works on a towering canvas of Mary Magdalene that sits on scaffolding and dominates the church scene. In contrast to the previous production’s historically faithful rendering of the sanctuary of an ornate Roman cathedral, the interior here resembles a bleak Soho warehouse, perhaps awaiting a few abstract paintings for decor. One of Mary Magdalene’s breasts is fully bared. As the painter and his lover Tosca perform their sumptuous arias, an enormous looming nipple is visible in the background. Tosca, who takes a knife at one point to the canvas, seems mentally unhinged and sexually coarse (for a moment, she grips her lover between her legs). There is another blatant swipe at Christianity when the evil Scarpia takes a statue of the Virgin Mary in his hands and lewdly embraces it.

Three whores are featured in Act II, characters who never appear in the libretto. One has a breast fully bared as the curtain parts and they wear gauzy dresses with no underwear beneath. One woman kneels on a sofa for several minutes with her back to the audience and Scarpia slaps her behind. All three embrace Scarpia, pawing his body, and one of the women performs oral sex on the villain.

I saw a live performance of Tosca at the Met years ago. It was an unforgettable thrill as  Tosca leapt to her death from the parapet of the Castel Sant’Angelo.  That was moving, while this new version, in which Tosca’s suicide is rendered in a strange abstract gesture, was depressing. The production is the work of Swiss-born avante-garde director Luc Bondy, who spoke dismissively of the negative reaction during an intermission interview and of his urgent desire to get at “truth” in the characters. “Truth”  here refers to ugliness and sexual reductionism. He dispensed with one of the most famous gestures in the production: the devout Tosca’s placement of lit candles around the body of Scarpia, whom she has just murdered. Mattila, who was excellent in the role despite the staging, mentioned in her interview that, under Bondy’s direction, she had tried to instill her character with an intensity that comes “from the pubic bone.”  (We were treated to generous views of her breasts too as she bent over Cavadorossi with a low-cut gown.)

Peter Gelb has assumed complete control as general manager of the Met for the first time this year. Here is yet another cultural impresario who justifies trashing beauty and form for the sake of attracting the masses. Ultimately, it is not commercial interests that reign here. It is a spirit of hatred against beauty, life, and God. Tosca, with its heart-wrenching call to higher sentiment, must be destroyed.


The Happy Couple

September 19, 2009


Jon and Kate Gosselin

In a previous entry, the Jon and Kate phenomenon was dissected. I didn’t pay much attention to it at the time, but take a closer look at this photo. Is this a man with his wife or a little boy with his Mom? Jon’s dressed in what appear to be kids’ play clothes and looks like he’s just eaten a big bowl of ice cream. Kate appears protective and strong. It’s an inversion of the traditional family photo with the man standing behind the woman, who is typically seated.



Jon and Kate Equal Zero

September 18, 2009


Mark writes:

 From a cultural perspective, I was wondering if you had any thoughts worth sharing about the whole Jon and Kate plus Eight  phenomenon (which for all I know is just about played out). My wife & I are usually way behind the curve on these things; since we don’t have a TV, our only familiarity with the Gosselin family was based on what we could gather from cover shots on the magazines you glimpse at the grocery checkout. My initial impulse was one of mild contempt, in that I find the whole reality show concept creepy and exploitative.

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Feminists and Working Girls

August 18, 2009


Feminists have a long history of ambivalence about working girls. I mean, independent contractors.” It’s an issue that ties them into philosophical knots.

On the one hand, independent contractors are bad because their business involves gratification of male desire, treatment of women as objects for pleasure, and sometimes brutal physical abuse, sexual disease and even murder. They also dress in heteronormative high heels and hot pants, and wear too much lipstick. That suggests independent contractors are tools of patriarchal oppression.  

On the other hand, independent contractors stand for female empowerment. They do make money and there is nothing that warms the heart of a feminist more, or inspires her to wax more eloquently about equality and freedom, than a bit of hard cold cash. Prostitution, to the extent that it is a professional field for women, is good. That’s why feminists have openly campaigned for the legalization of independent contractors.

Generally, however, the average feminist takes a stand similar to the one displayed by Oprah yesterday in her interview with Brooke Taylor. She was alternately bemused, curious, mildly concerned, and mildly repulsed. Altogether, Oprah’s attitude was distant, as if all this was part of a world to which she would never belong. “So strange [male organs] don’t bother you?” the interviewer asked with a smile. How does Brooke go to work when she doesn’t feel like sex? Oprah appeared to think prostitutes are aroused by their clients.

In a world lit by feminist lights, prostitution is destined to become more common. That’s because the feminist, either male or female, can never muster true condemnation or even genuine concern. The idea that what a woman does with her body defines her life’s meaning and spiritual destiny is foreign to the neutered feminist mind.

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Julia and Non-Julia

August 14, 2009



Meryl Streep is a great actress and Julia Child is a cultural force and an inspiration to anyone who has spent years in the kitchen. Nevertheless, I will not be seeing the new movie, Julie and Julia, in which the famous actress plays the famous cook. It may very well be that Nora Ephron crafted a good script from a very bad book. Still, I won’t see the movie. The book was just too appallingly bad. Julie Powell, the author, is a writer who set out to make all the recipes in Child’s famous Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  That was a great idea.  Unfortunately, Powell is the anti-Julia of American pop culture. She is vain, undisciplined, messy, heavy-drinking and immoral. The book begins with her describing a visit to a clinic to sell eggs. Not chicken eggs, her eggs. It is the typical admixture of self-revelation and self-apology common to confessional literature today. It was a disservice to the everyday art of cooking, which requires self-deflation for its survival.


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