Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Safe Zone Violation

Jay Nordlinger likes to write about "safe zone violations," a term he coined to mean unwelcome intrusions of politics into otherwise apolitical settings. A music critic and golf aficionado (as well as political opinion journalist), Nordlinger has written most often about such violations during classical music performance and sports reporting.

I had my own such encounter a week ago, when my family took my three-year-old son to see a musical production of "The Three Little Pigs" at a local theater. The production was a bit of a mashup, and somehow Little Red Riding Hood was incorporated with the pigs. All was going along swimmingly until the following exchange between Red and her mother:

Red: I'm not afraid of anything!
Mother: You're not afraid of the dark?
Red: No, I'm not afraid of anything!
Mother: Big bad wolves?
Red: No, mother, nothing!
Mother: Sarah Palin?
Red: ...well...

(If I were a nut for symbolism, I might make something of the fact that a character named "Red" is afraid of Sarah Palin. But I'm not, and I won't!)

This is just gratuitously insulting. Even in suburban New Jersey, probably a third of the adult audience is at least neutral to Palin; why risk pissing them off? Is it worth the laugh from the other two thirds? Obviously, kids' shows feel the need to insert adult humor to keep the parents engaged. But does it have to be political?

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