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LETTERS IN VIEW : Backlash Against 'Beaver' Banality

May 10, 1990

I wasn't surprised to read that several school principals had banned some Bart Simpson T-shirts because they claim the character expresses a "bad attitude" ("Schools, Penney's Having a Cow About Bart Simpson T-Shirt," May 3). This news evoked the same sense I got from a recent National Public Radio report about an Indiana group that is trying to persuade Johnny Carson, David Letterman and other comedians to stop telling Dan Quayle jokes because, after all, he is our vice president, thus he deserves respect.

The popularity of Bart Simpson and Dan Quayle jokes is in large part due to backlash against the 1980s Peggy Noonan, "Leave it to Beaver" banality that was promoted as a national ideal. Upstanding, clean-cut suburbanites who try to perpetuate this stupid fantasy by suppressing normal psychological reactions and creativity are more insidious than Jesse Helms and the Christo-fascist thought police because they aren't generally perceived as a threat to creative expression.

Fortunately, people who would stifle creativity are not very perceptive, and they only seem to be aware of what is blatantly "subversive" on the most superficial level. This allows artists and writers to continue to get their works published and produced in the cultural wasteland of post-Reagan America.

DAVID LAKE

Santa Monica

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