Open Mike


Today Is the New Yesterday

Editor: Thanks for your recent item on [New York Times television writer] Alessandra Stanley [“Read a Times Review, Get a Course Credit,” 4/11, page 8]. It was funny and dead on. I've been reading Stanley's TV reviews for a few years now. As a teeveetotaler, I count on her to keep me vaguely current and also to remind me to stay away from the tube. I enjoy her attitude, and she's usually amusing.

This winter I spotted another pattern. Stanley used “x is the new y” so many weeks in a row I thought maybe her editor was on sabbatical. Or maybe it was deliberate, like the Ninas in the Al Hirschfeld drawings? Anyway, here are the ones I caught:

  • ESP is the new DNA...
  • Mental illness is the new sex...
  • Collagen is the new hickey...
  • Thirty is the new 20.

Holley Atkinson

Brooklyn, NY

Government Has a Role

According to a national poll released on May 4 by TV Watch, more than 80% of the American people say that “more parental involvement,” not government, is the “best way to keep kids from seeing what they shouldn't see” (“Big Three Fight Indecency,” 5/9, page 10).

Asking whether parents or government is the best way to shield kids from TV content, however, is like asking whether private charity or government is the best way to fight poverty. Even if parents and private charity are the “right answers,” there will always be a necessary role for government.

Clearly, the parental role is primary. Equally clear, many parents won't or can't provide needed oversight of their children's TV viewing. The reasons include parental neglect, indifference, fear, ignorance and naiveté, and parental job responsibilities, language barriers and disabilities.

I would add that polls conducted this spring by Pew Research Center, Time and Harris Interactive all indicated that most Americans support a role for government in curbing TV indecency.

Robert Peters


Morality in Media Inc.

New York