Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Protect The Adults, Rob The Kids

"Monday Night Football's" cross-promotion with "Desperate Housewives" garnered the mass outrage/attention that was surely expected (Nude White Chick jumps in Black Jock's arms is a guaranteed button-pusher). The corporate spectrum, from Rush "This is too close to this Kobe Bryant situation for comfort" Limbaugh to Frank "Opportunistic ayatollahs on the right have been working overtime to inflate this nonmandate into a landslide by ginning up cultural controversies that might induce censorship by a compliant F.C.C." Rich, set the official parameters of discussion, followed-up with the inevitable Newsweek cover story.

So the bit's been played, till the next cultural mini-eruption.

Now, aside from commercials, I've seen very little of "Desperate Housewives." Not my kind of show. But I find it hard to believe that this HBO Lite offering is all that offensive. Promiscuity and adultery in a primetime show aimed at grown-ups? What's fresh or outrageous about that? Especially in a period filled with corporate/political corruption, imperial war, torture, videotaped beheadings and general theocratic madness? I would think that "Desperate Housewives" would be comic relief in comparison.

If we must stick to pop culture offenses, then surely last year's "Cat In The Hat" is far worse than ABC's current hit. When the film came out, my then 7-year-old son wanted to see it, being a fan of the Dr. Seuss books and the 1971 cartoon co-written by the great Chuck Jones. After reading several uniformly bad reviews, I told him no, that he would be very disappointed, that it wasn't the same "Cat" he loved, and so on. But recently, HBO's been airing this wretched thing, and my son, now a robust 8, caught maybe 20 minutes of it before turning it off and telling me, "You were right, Dad. That movie stinks!"

Curious, I later watched a larger chunk of the film. What a soulless, cynical marketing mindfuck it is. Mike Myers is truly awful, the gags reek, the whole spirit of Seuss is just beaten to the pavement and kicked in the teeth. And what children's film would be complete without castration jokes and a Paris Hilton cameo? If you want an indictment against contemporary Hollywood, here it is.

Yet, it's obvious that millions of American parents had no problem with Myers's "Cat." Indeed, its domestic gross stands at $101,018,283, guaranteeing that this "Cat In The Hat" will come back, grabbing even more ready cash from Moms & Dads willing to expose their kids to the lowest, vilest denominator.

Where's the outrage here? As far as I can find, there is none. I still see "Cat In The Hat" merchandise with Myers's prosthetic feline face plastered on them. It saddens me that for a great many children, this classic, subtly subversive tale is synonymous with this boorish imposter. Even sadder are those parents who buy into the corporate lie and pass it on to their kids.