Behind the Curtain at TMM

Inside The Comment Thread

We were able to score an interview today with Thurgood Marshall Jr. He's the son of the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American to serve on the high court.   It was a big get for us; Republican Senators this week targeted Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s service to the liberal Justice Marshall.  So we asked his son – and an heir to his legacy – what he thought about the criticism.

All that being said, to make room for Mr. Marshall, we decided to bring our weekly segment BackTalk to you via the web.

And that’s where we’ll start …

On Monday our host Michel Martin returned from a week away, during which she helped her elderly parents move into a new place.  She came back with this  message, particularly for those who “prey” on the vulnerabilities of older people:

How do you sleep at night selling multiple vacuum cleaners and automatic slicers and magazines to elderly people?

You know you are because even if these seniors might need ONE of these things, you know perfectly well they don’t need THREE OR FOUR of the same thing.

And you know perfectly well they don’t need more magazines than a dentist’s office, and they don’t need multiple credit cards. And they don’t need these fake “collectibles” that have absolutely no long-term value.

How about some personal responsibility on your end?

Speak the truth, Michel!

That was the sentiment expressed by many who responded in the comment thread.  Blogger Paige Ervin told this story about her grandmother’s exploding mailbox:

My grandmother actually had to get a bigger mailbox to handle all the "live longer" and charity mail she was receiving. At 86, she is of a generation who find mail important. So even though she receives (I counted) upwards of 40 pieces of mail a *day*, she feels that she must read each one. It makes me so angry, but there is nothing I can do about this.

We also heard from Laurie Drecker, who shared a similar story:

My father had $900 in annual magazine subscriptions, and now that I've had their mail forwarded to me to deal with, I'm getting all sorts of junk mail about "special discount to loyal customers" for exactly the kind of "collectibles" (read "junk") you mention. They died penniless and I blame a lot of that on those telemarketers.

We’re planning more conversations about elder care and how our society deals with the aging population - which of course is going to be an ever-present issue as the baby-boomer generation enters its later years.   Our first such discussion is slated for next Tuesday.

Switching gears to another subject that captured your attention this week: marriage education.

Ellen McCarthy wrote about whether learning how to be married can actually save many presumed doomed marriages in the Washington Post Magazine. Michel talked with McCarthy and one of the people she featured in the piece, Diane Sollee, who is veritable ringleader of the movement.  Here's her take on marriage classes:

It's not going to hurt you… You walk in hand in hand and you walk out, you know, arm in arm.  You're going to sit and learn the way that this class teaches the skills. They're all based on the same research body of knowledge.

But not so, says social scientist Bella DePaulo, author of "Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After." and blogger for PsychologyToday.com.

The Harvard-trained scientist said that based on her review of 143 studies, the majority of results suggest couples who enrolled in marriage classes were no better off 6 months later.  It’s an interesting argument.  Take a look at DePaulo's post about marriage education.

And finally … Tell Me More Line Editor Alicia Montgomery also hit the blog this week with a post about the “white-washing” of the Nickelodeon cartoon “The Last Airbender,” which is now a big-budget summer flick:

The TV show developed a loving cult following of fans, many of whom are all ready hating on this movie. That's because, while the characters leading the show were clearly Inuit and Asian, most of the top roles in the film cast went to white actors.

True story, according to many readers.

Michael Le took Hollywood to task:

No matter which side you take on this issue, we all agree that in an ideal world, any actor of any race could represent a role. What's often forgotten in the debate, however, is that historically this has all gone one-way for lead roles. The question isn't, "Can white actors portray Asians?" Historically, that's all Hollywood has *allowed* when a lead role calls for an Asian character.

But blogger Ron Wynn offered another take.  He said Hollywood is essentially a lost cause.

I'd like to see more efforts and energy devoted to people of color making their own movies rather than just reacting and responding to big studio productions, as well as more exposure provided for those indies and documentaries that attempt to balance the cultural landscape.

Thanks everyone for joining the conversation.  We always appreciate reading and hearing your thoughts.  Keep em’ coming!

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