Friday, June 12, 2009


We know they're referred to as opinion columns for a reason, but an article in yesterday's Globe & Mail has left me incredulous. For months now I have been familiarizing myself with the Globe's Life section and, in particular, Sarah Hampson's report in her weekly column: "Generation Ex". Yes, it's as dire as it sounds. Hampson, herself a divorcee, makes good the column's word to label Generation X as the "ex" generation, commenting on divorce rates, the supposed health and mental benefits of divorce, prenups, custody battles, infidelities... Delightful.

My issue is not that she writes about divorce (although, as a subject, it's fairly limiting) but that her personal experience with divorce and, therefore, her bias comes out as often as it can. Her ex-husband is referenced with embarassing frequency. "Generation Ex" reads like a personal blog, not a column for a national newspaper. A co-worker/friend of mine, a copywriter, quoted her sister regarding Hampson: "If she weren't writing for the Globe & Mail, she'd be a mompreneur".

[This has been building for a while, I apologize. And now, on to The Point...]

Ah, yes, yesterday's article. Title: "Obama fairy tale? Reality check, please". It opens with "Pardon me for not swooning..." and ends with this quote about the marital rough patches during Obama's first campaign for Illinois Congress (Hampson makes the error putting it during the presidential campaign) from Richard Wolffe's biography, Renegade: The Making of a President:
There was little conversation and even less romance. She was angry at his selfishness and careerism; he thought she was cold and ungrateful.
tacking "Ah, now that's reassuringly real." on as a final sign-off.

As the self-proclaimed spokesperson for "seasoned married people", "those who have been divorced" and "those of us who have been around the marriage block", Hampson goes after the Obama's date night on May 2nd with all the venom of a sore loser. She accuses their evening, which she refers to as a "swoonfest", of being "scripted", "perfectly executed", and "predictable", likening it to a reality TV show.

Read the whole article, I beseech you. It's astounding. Who scoffs at a date that doubled as "a playful rebuke to husbands everwhere who can't seem to plan anything more elaborate than an occasional outing to the local Pizza Hut"? Sounds like the reality Hampson wants to reassured by is that Michelle, having had stood by her man THROUGH the his campaigns, can't possibly now be benefitting from a marriage that didn't choose divorce as a cure-all. There must be a catch. Please, let there be a catch. All I got was Pizza Hut.

Let's Dr. Jekyll this date night: as far superior as the New York Times is to the Globe, so Maureen Dowd's article, "Can The One Have Fun?" is to Sarah Hampson's. Not only does her opinion not smack of jaded cynicism, it's well written, intelligent, and informed. She coyly pulls Dubya's pants down with a brilliant run-on sentence, winks at the stresses of the presidency, and then paints this poetry:
I loved the “Pretty Woman” romance of the New York tableau, the president, who had not lived an entitled life where he could afford such lavish gestures, throwing off his tie and whisking his wife, in a flirty black cocktail dress, to sip martinis in Manhattan, as Sasha hung over a White House balcony and called out goodbye.
(Incidentally, Hampson grumbled that the same New York tableau was "all so millenial and exemplary...what with Michelle in her fringed, sleeveless cocktail dress and the Prez in his open-neck white shirt and dark suit...he looked like a metrosexual from the pages of GQ magazine".)

Dowd even uses the SAME QUOTE from Wolffe's biography, but pairs the marital standoff during Obama's campaign with some refreshing context:
Wolffe limns what those of us who traveled with Obama could see: He was often grumpy on the campaign. He missed his family.
Hence, making good on the presidential promise he made to his wife - to take her to Broadway show. And, yes, she argues, he is allowed to do it in style (speaking of style: "limns"?! Win!).

I've blogged about the phenomenon I refer to as Epic Tales of Retrospect before, as well as my admiration for wives who love husbands 'till death do them part. Generation X can be so focused on proving the challenges and hardships of marriage (all valid) that we consistantly miss the beauty, the magic, and, yes, the glamour of a husband and wife in love. When we see it, we distrust it, being so long estranged.

But there, I've broken out in neck flush just blogging about it.

1 comment:

Andrew G said...

I'd be furious too, La.

I think you've hit the nail on the head... we're all quite good at convincing ourselves that if we've failed - it must be impossible.

Good things we're good at getting up when we fall, huh? Love you.