3/11/2005

Frank Rich on dirty jokes

From his NY Times column:
Let me recommend the series that probably has more four-letter words, with or without participles, than any in TV history. That would be "Deadwood" on HBO. Its linguistic gait befits its chapter of American history, the story of a gold-rush mining camp in the Dakota Territory of the late 1870's. "Deadwood" is the back story of everything else that is joyously vulgar in American culture and that our new Puritans want to stamp out.  
Its creator is David Milch, a former Yale fraternity brother of George W. Bush and the onetime protégé of Robert Penn Warren. He was a co-creator, with Steven Bochco, of the network police show, "NYPD Blue." 
"Deadwood" could not be better timed. It reminds us of who we are and where we came from, and that even indecency is part of an American's birthright. It also, if inadvertently, illuminates the most insidious underpinnings of today's decency police by further reminding us that the same people who want to stamp out entertainment like "Deadwood" also want to rewrite American history (and, when they can, the news) according to their dictates of moral and political correctness. They won't tolerate an honest account of the real Deadwood in a classroom or museum any more than they will its fictionalized representation on HBO. Lynne Cheney has taken to writing and promoting triumphalist children's history books that, as she said on Fox News recently, offer "an uncynical approach to our nation and to our national story." (So much for her own out-of-print "Deadwood"-esque novel of 1981, "Sisters," with its evocation of lesbian passions on the frontier.) That's her right. But when her taste is enforced as government policy that's another matter.     
,,,That last week in September 2001, I've come to realize, is as much a marker in our cultural history as two weeks earlier is a marker in the history of our relations with the world. Even as we're constantly told we're in a war for "freedom" abroad, freedom in our culture at home has been under attack ever since.

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