Having spent most of my adult life in Hollywood, in the employ of those who would serve up violence, drugs and sex as mere commodities to be consumed, like burgers and fries, by a well-sold, voracious, and not-particularly-thoughtful public, I have growing concern about what I might call the resultant coarsening of American society, not to mention the obvious and well-documented dumbing-down.

Correlative to freedomof speech, of the press, of religion—is responsibility, and it is in the matter of taking personal responsibility that I feel we most often, as a culture, fail our young people.

When our kids are born, we can't take our eyes off of them. They're cute, and they look just enough like us that we become immediately infatuated, as though we were looking into magic mirrors. But after a while, given enough sleepless nights, dirty diapers, broken dishes, spilled milk and temper tantrums in shopping malls, upon innumerable conversations with equally-exhausted worn-down parents, eventually we give our precious love-bundles over to the system. They go to school, and as children are hard-wired to do, they begin teaching themselves at a fearsome pace.

And the stuff they learn is often dangerous. Primarily because it is basically unmoderated. Kids consume raw data rapaciously: a million murders in Prime Time. How, when and who to fuck. A pill for this, a tab for that. Feel better. Look better. Get rich. Win.

No value judgements here. Just an observation.

As parents of young teenagers, Demeter and I have occasion (usually sleep-deprived) to compare notes. She's got a girl; I've got one of the other kind. She passed along to me the following, and it reminded me again that

Dialog between parent and child is indispensible.

To the tune of "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" from Cabaret.

I'm a young person and life should be fun
My world should be just like TV
And if it gets boring, then I've got a gun
Tomorrow belongs to me.

I can watch like a fly on the wall if I choose
People living their lives just for me
And I can decide if they win or they lose
Tomorrow belongs to me.

Television and 'net give me all that I need
There's porn and there's music for free
I don't have to work and I don't have to read
Tomorrow belongs to me.

Oh Oprah, oh Sally, please give me the sign
I'm avidly waiting to see.
With just a makeover the world will be mine.
Tomorrow belongs to me.