April 17, 2005

Taking the best of both sides of the culture war.

David Brooks is writing again. I always get distracted by the prose. "Acres of exposed pelvic skin." That is supposed to be a sexy image. "Acres" sounds morbidly obese. And "pelvic skin" makes me stop and spend about five minutes trying to think of other parts of the skeleton and whether we'd say they had their own skin. Do we call the skin on thighs "femoral skin"?

But let's get past that and look at the theory: "American pop culture may look trashy, but America's social fabric is in the middle of an amazing moment of improvement and repair." Brooks notes a lot of evidence that younger Americans, for all their exposure to raunchy pop culture, are just enjoying the music, and not acting out the words. He concludes that the young have adopted the best of both sides of the culture war: the outward, broad expressiveness of the left, and the morally constrained private life of the right.

I hope that's true. Think how much better it is that the opposite: prissy, priggish public expression and sinning like mad privately.


Not Happy said...

From the David Brooks column:

"Reports of an epidemic of teenage oral sex are also greatly exaggerated."

An "epidemic of teenage oral sex"? Now there's an amusing expression! Sounds a hell of a lot better than an epidemic of Marburg, in any case.

Beyond the prose, Brooks' article reads just like one another of these wishful interpretations of social trends that right-wing columnists occasionally produce. He doesn't cite any studies that his statistics supposedly come from nor does he bother to analyze the numbers or methodologies used at all. He may be absolutely right in what he says, but he gives us no basis for believing that.

I also take issue with the idea that it's better to be salacious in public but prudish in private. I've got nothing against explicit sexual material, as a matter of fact I enjoy it, but I would prefer it to be tasteful and well-done instead of at the level of crudeness you might see in a hip-hop video. Better to have people acting like pigs in private and being restrained in public.

Timothy K. Morris said...

"Think how much better it is that the opposite: prissy, priggish public expression and sinning like mad privately."

Humm. Sounds familiar. Wait, I have it. . .the Victorians?

Ann Althouse said...

Timothy: Yeah, I was thinking when I wrote that: well, on the up side, we'd get better novels.