The Last Word
“You can observe a lot just by watching,” Yogi Berra supposedly said. Some of us observed with keen interest the entertainers performing at the recent annual awards dinner of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce. It was the 50th anniversary of the Citizen of the Year award, so the program featured a retrospective of the past five decades. It also featured some young dancers gyrating to the pop music of the era. It was supposed to be different music and dances for each decade, but to some of us at least, it all looked and sounded the same. Some of the dancers were members of the Manchester Wolves (arena football) cheerleading squad, while others were from a local dance studio. They were all young, all female and all dressed more or less like Hooters girls. That is to say, their skimpy costumes exposed yards and yards of flesh, revealing much that was interesting, and concealing only the essentials. It was like watching a hula dance without all that grass in the way. It also should be noted that no one was too distracted by the dancers to appreciate the winner of the latest Citizen of the Year award, Claira Monier of Goffstown, executive director of the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority. The worthy recipient was, as always, gracious and charming in her acceptance of the award and was, of course, fully and appropriately dressed. And now, back to the distraction… Were any offended by the show? It’s hard to say. Fifty years ago or less, you could almost assume many would be. Perhaps we’ve all simply learned to expect more public displays of near nudity and we’ve become inured to it. But I suspect that many found the show tasteless and were too polite to say so. Once upon a time (yea, even in the 20th century) young people, and young women in particular, were encouraged to be modest in dress. No doubt in some homes, some schools and even (help us, Lord!) some churches, they still are. Thirty years ago, a spiritual writer wrote: “Modesty is the external manifestation of the purity of heart and mind.” Of what, then is immodesty a manifestation? Again, we may be too polite to say. At least one member of the audience noted that the “buzz” in the women’s room was, “Where are the men dancers?” Where, indeed? In recent years, some socially conscious, politically sensitive souls have been campaigning against the kind of entertainment that “objectifies” women. Even the Miss America contest has been assailed on that ground. But there appears to be another popular theory that deems the objectifying of the human person OK, so long as it is done on an equal opportunity basis. But there has been a Hooters restaurant in Manchester for a few years now and there was evidence at the chamber dinner of a “Hooterization” of the Queen City. It not only detracted from the evening’s program, it also may have encouraged a warped and excessive appreciation of the loveliness of the female form. If we are indifferent to that, then we are missing a lot, whatever we may be observing.