Monday, December 06, 2004

WILD IN THE STREETS. Mary Eberstadt uses the f-word frequently (albeit with expurgating dashes) in Policy Review, but only in the context of hip-hop lyrics. The popularity of expletives spat by Tupac and Eminem, Eberstadt claims, is attributable to America's high divorce rate: "Many bands and singers explicitly link the most deplored themes in music today -- suicide, misogyny, and drugs -- with that lack of a quasi-normal, intact-home personal past."

And the cause of divorce, Eberstadt implies, is liberal sociology:
Representative sociologist Stephanie Coontz greeted the year 2004 with one more op-ed piece aimed at burying poor metaphorical Ozzie and Harriet for good. She reminded America again that “changes in marriage and family life” are here to stay and aren’t “necessarily a problem”... Meanwhile, a small number of emotionally damaged former children, embraced and adored by millions of teenagers like them, rage on in every commercial medium available about the multiple damages of the disappearance of loving, protective, attentive adults.
Considering Policy Review is a scholarly journal, it is strange that Eberstadt does not attempt to demonstrate this causality with examples of families that were doing just fine till Stephanie Coontz told them to split up. Can't she find one formerly intact family, now scattered amongst the trailer parks of America, that could point to their chance encounter with The Way We Never Were as the catalyst for their catastrophic choices? Surely the producers of "Cops" could put her in touch.

I fear Eberstadt is just doing like they do: mining pop culture for political affirmations. She even refers to the "crypto-traditional" content of Eminem's lyrics. But couldn't she at least pretend to like the music? I guess that's a bridge too far, because she makes sure to distance herself from any imputation of pleasure ("Much of today’s metal and hip-hop, like certain music of yesterday, romanticizes illicit drug use and alcohol abuse, and much of current hip-hop sounds certain radical political themes, such as racial separationism and violence against the police... Allan Bloom blah blah blah"). But -- and I offer this in a spirit of collegiality, with respect for her professionalism -- this joint would be more likely to transcend the little frog-pond of wingnut pubs in which it is currently mired if she referred to the new crypto-traditionalists more friendly-like. Like she want to wrinkle their linens, sprinkle them with gin and then begin sinnin'. Know'm sayin'?

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