FEATURE P.J. O’ROURKE
PJ. O'BOURKE CONTINUED entertainment violence that inﬂuences William F. Buckley to consider mayhem normative and act out murderous impulses is Wagner‘s Ring cycle. When African-Americans vote. they vote only black votes. which are tied in a bundle and sold to Ed Rollins or given to James Carville. Harps like myself have nothing but ethnic buddy-type rights under the Constitution: the right to hang out in bars and talk sports. the right to frequent the muffler shop of our choosing. and the right to whup on our kids if we catch them listening to Wagner. And. when women make a lot of money. they get paid in women dollars. which are good only for buying Margaret Atwood novels. frozen yogurt. DKNY ensembles. and hairdos like Hillary Clinton‘s.
Reading Culture is a pity party. an anthology of sixty-ﬁve mostly unnoteworthy writers complaining about America: E. J. Hobsbawm crabbing about rich people. Ben Hamper whining about being poor, Michael Oreskes fretting over today‘s kids who don’t believe in anything. David Leavitt sniveling that he’s one ofthem. Ruth Schwartz Cowan moaning how women have to stay home and do housework. Rosalind Coward grumbling that women have to get dressed and go out. June Jordan lamenting the despotism of standard Caucasian English. the inexplicably uncapitalized bell hooks bewailing the tyranny of standard Caucasian hair. Jean Kilboume with a beef that advertising makes women feel fat. Stuart and Elizabeth Ewen having a fit that advertising exists. Frances FitzGerald griping about retirement communities. John Fiske being a sourpuss on the subject of shopping malls. Joseph F. Trimmer carping at McDonald‘s. Henry Louis Gates Jr. bellyaching at how television portrays black people. Walter Shapiro in a snit over everything else on TV. Kirkpatrick Sale pissed as hell that Columbus even discovered this awful place. and - for the sake of political balance. I guess — George Will with the pants seat of his Brooks Brothers suit in a wad concerning rap lyrics. And I'll bet George can't understand one word ofthem no matter how loud you play your car stereo under his bedroom window at night.
Few of these authors were speaking for Americans in general. even fewer were speaking for themselves personally. and all were eager to describe the querulous. grouching. bitchy divisions into which they see — or hope to see — America splitting.
And so was my head. Please. a drink. The atmosphere in the college bars was much more collegial. In an effort to bring us together as a nation. the barmaids at one tavem had set out a beer pitcher with a sign on it: ALL TIPS WILL G() TO PAY JOHN WAYNE Boasrr’s MEDICAL BILLS. I began doing the kind of research I made for: Strohs all 'round. I gathered from beer-oiled undergraduate chatter that things had changed in Miami.
When I was in school. women students, no matter their age. were required to live in dormitories unless they were married. The dormitories had hours. Freshmen girls were locked in at ten-thirty on weeknights. Seniors had until midnight or so. Now women students can do whatever they want. What they wanted that particular week was a ‘Take Back the Night’ march where 170 women students protested how dangerous it was to be out wandering around at night.
In my day. members of opposite sexes were not allowed to go to each other‘s dorm rooms. Now there‘s twenty-four-hour visitation. There's also a sexual harassment regulation in the Student Handbook that’s forty-ﬁve hundred words long. Appendix S. sections 3.2l ll through 3.2123. ‘Policy Prohibiting Sexual Harassment.‘ says. among other things:
Sexual harassment encompasses any behavior directed toward an individual that is unwelcome and that serves no defensible educational purpose. It may range from sexual innuendos. perhaps even in the guise of humor. to coerced sexual relations. Examples of verbal of physical conduct prohibited . . . include. but are not limited to: . . . Direct propositions ofa sexual nature: subtle pressure for sexual activity; . . . comments of a sexual nature; . . . unwanted touching. patting. hugging. or brushing against a person; remarks of a sexual nature about a person's clothing or body; remarks about sexual activity or speculations about previous sexual experience . . . ; repeated requests for a personal relationship or attention. provided that the requests would not have occurred except for the gender and/or sexual orientation of the complainant
Whereby Appendix S. sections 3.21 l 1 through 3.2123. pretty well describes dating as we knew it in the early l960s.
Drugs are now tolerated at Miami. and the school, in its bylaws. specifically forbids itself from giving drug tests to students. But you can‘t smoke tobacco in the student union or any of the academic buildings. And you can’t have a drink until you‘re twenty-one.
There used to be an Ohio law allowing eighteen-year-olds to buy beer with an alcohol content of 3.2 percent or less. Oxford. Ohio. the town where Miami is located. was reputed to have the greatest per capita consumption of 3.2 beer on the planet. You could always tell Miami alumni by their enomious bladder capacities. Every day, when classes were done, the members of the student body would rush to the High Street bars. bloat themselves with watery brew and touch. pat. hug. and brush against each other. They can't do that at eighteen anymore. But they can vote.
There’s nothing 1 like better after a long day of multiculturalization than to go out and have myself a couple of good. stiff votes. Sometimes. on weekends. me and the guys — the persons - will do some serious voting. 1 mean. get political. Sometimes we'll wind up so politiﬁed, why. anybody with his baseball cap on straight. we’ll sue ‘em for lack of diversity. We‘ll boycott people for going around unoppressed, pass rules against having manners or mores without Student Senate approval. and institute a collective grading system where all undergrads get the same marks as the rest of their ethnic group. unless they‘re Korean or Jewish or something. © PJ. O'Rourke 1994.
Reproduced with kind permission of Picador Books.
After the big budget trials of two Batman movies, Hollywood’s gothic maverick TIM BURTON has returned to his ﬁrst love — animation — with The Nightmare Before Christmas. He tells Alan Morrison about putting the claws into Santa.
o partridges; no turtle doves; no red, red robin bob-bob-bobbin’ along. When Christmas gets the Tim Burton treatment, it’s not lit by sparkling fairy lights, but by the flickering fanged mouth of a carved-out pumpkin. There aren’t really any nerve- shattering terrors in The Nightmare Before Christmas, however. This juxtaposition of Halloween and Yuletide is a twisted playground for boys and girls of all ages who still giggle at the thought of slug-and-worm stew and imagine that the slobbery holiday kisses of elderly relatives are the embraces of a sea monster. Batman blockbusters aside, Burton’s ﬁlms usually bring a childlike sensibility to clashes of darkness and light — the sad steel and leather alienation of Edward Scissorhands vs pastel- painted suburbia, and the intrusion of a host of nasties into the homely afterlife of the all- American family in Beetlejuice. What makes the 35-year-old director’s visions very much his own is that he is always more likely to ﬁnd sympathy for the innocents lurking in the shadows than any clear-cut Hollywood-style hero. It’s not surprising, therefore, that when his
‘A twisted work puts on a more psychologically menacing playground for guise, he is instinctively drawn to the dark side: boys and girls of Batman/Bruce Wayne is an interesting case of all 3935 who 3"" vigilante schizophrenia, but Burton’s eye and 9.99“ at the the balance of the films are weighted more thought 0' slug_ towards the antics of The Joker, Catwoman and
The Penguin. The Nightmare Before Christmas has a romantic lead in a tall, stick-thin figure with a football-shaped skull for a head. Jack MSkellington, the Pumpkin King, is tired of i. ‘c the successful tricks that he and the h other inhabitants of Halloweentown inflict on the world every October. Wandering disillusioned through a forest, he stumbles upon the door to Christmastown and, while on a sneak visit, hatches a plan to kidnap Santa Claus and take his place. Everyone in Halloweentown is called upon to play their part.
'4' . -.'~.;
The Frankensteinian Evil Scientist revives some skeletal reindeer;
lovestruck Sally, a patchwork of sewn- together limbs, makes the costume; mischievous trio Lock, Shock and Barrel - three kids whose faces are
20 The List 2-15 December 1994