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'Married' Laughs Are Good for Children

August 28, 1993

I would like to respond to the Aug. 16 column by Howard Rosenberg concluding that the TV show "Married . . . With Children" is "a message of hopelessness that's unsuitable for malleable young minds" ("Tuning Into the Mixed Messages Children Get").

One could come to that conclusion only if one believes that young children have no sense of humor. They have and should not be denied the relief that humor and comedy give to us in a sometimes cruel world.

There are too many children who live in far worse environments than this show portrays in farce. Even children who live in the best of homes become frustrated and stamp around shouting "I hate you! I hate you!" to loving parents. Children are no different from adults in their response to humor. The ones who are too young to understand some humor are also too young to understand it as reality.

I grew up on "The Katzenjammer Kids," who blew their father up with dynamite at the end of every cartoon. Today kids who kill their parents never heard of "The Katzenjammer Kids." I also grew up on "Maggie and Jiggs." At the end of every one of those cartoons Maggie hit Jiggs over the head with a rolling pin.

I loved those cartoons and similar ones as far back as my memory goes, before I could read. They were funny to me then and they are precious memories to me now, and, as far as I can tell, never did I confuse them with reality.

I have to admit that some of the humor in "Married . . . With Children" seems raw to me and that I feel it in the pit of my stomach, but I think it is the humor of this generation.

We certainly should be concerned about what our children are learning on television, but they learn from drama, not humor. They are learning all the time: how to use a gun; how to lay in wait; the many ways to kill and maim; that you can hit a person on the head and they will have no ill effects, except perhaps a headache; the many ways to blow up cars, people, buildings and other things.

Drama instills emotions. Humor dispels and releases emotions. We all need humor and children love it. "Married . . . With Children" releases the frustrations that are part of family life. Perhaps it is crude, but it is funny. Rosenberg admits that, he just underestimates the mind of a child.


What the Bard Meant

It was an unfortunate misuse when Don Shirley, in his review of "Nunsense," suggested the cast "get thee back to a nunnery" (" 'Nunsense' Returns and the Puns Are Endless," Aug. 14).

Had Shirley chosen not to quote Shakespeare (more accurately "Get thee to a nunnery!"; "Hamlet" Act III), he would not have employed the Prince of Denmark's deriding comment to Ophelia, in 16th-Century slang, that she should get to a house of ill fame.


'For a Lost Soldier'

The highly skilled director of photography of the Dutch film "For a Lost Soldier," Nils Post, will be unpleasantly surprised to read the headline: " 'Soldier': A Brave Outing That Loses Focus," above Kevin Thomas' review of my film (Aug. 6). May I humbly suggest that "Soldier" does not "lose focus" even for a split second, neither should it.

Thomas asks: "Has the adult Jeroen been able to have successful relationships with others, male or female, or both? Kerbosch leaves us to assume that Jeroen is gay just as he leaves us to assume that he and Walt fully engaged in sex in the first place."

These questions, according to Thomas, should have been answered. I do not agree.

My film "For a Lost Soldier" is about love, loneliness and coming of age. Why this curiosity about being "fully engaged in sex"?

Furthermore, it is absolutely out of this particular story whether the adult Jeroen has had--whatever--relationships later in his life. It is none of our business, yet. It has nothing to do with the story of "For a Lost Soldier."

That story involves two lonely young people, separated by an insurmountable language barrier and isolated from their respective families, who meet in the rapidly changing world of a major war. Being away from home--their hearts and minds full of new impressions about sex, life and death--they find what they need there and then: affection.

In making "Soldier" I focused, I thought sharply, on the love-and-affection aspect of the story. The film depicts a romance between two adolescents, who, in this instance, happen to be male.

ROELAND KERBOSCH, Director, "For a Lost Soldier," West Hollywood

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