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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (April 19, 1993)
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Homework mars end of school
School is almost over. Every
one keeps telling me so.
But for some reason, it.
doesn ’ t feel like school’s almost over.
When school’s done, doesn’t that
mean it’s summer? And wouldn’t sum
mer mean the nice days outnumbered
If summer’s almost here, students,
clad in cutoffs and ratty T-shirts,
should be piled around Broyhill Foun
tain drinking in sunshine. Instead,
students, clad in cutoffs and rally T
shirts, shiver across campus, dodging
raindrops and cursing inaccurate
On the rare occasions when the sun
peeks out of its hibernation, everyone
goes nuts and tries to lay out. And if
it’s possible to tan through mountains
of goose bumps, they might be ac
I’m no different. There’s only one
word to describe my complexion —
It doesn’t seem fair. Usually stu
dents can gel their tans during spring
break, then come back to school and
maintain. Any tan maintenance tak
ing place this year is being purchased.
Just last spring the trees had buds
and everyone was well into the warm
season when that pesky blizzard swept
in and canceled school.
A blizzard this year would warrant
no more than a yawn from university
“School’salmost over,” they’d say,
looking out over the expanse of glit
tering while. “Skip the shoveling."
Surely school can’t be almost over
when I haven ’ t even sent m y sweaters
School’s end should mean lazy
days, picnics, barbecues and
Nebraska’s version of beaches. It
There was a time
when the end of a
school year sent
me into a
perpetual state of
happiness. Now it
sends me into a
state of panic.
shouldn’t mean registering ior sum
mer classes, looking for internships
and worrying what your address will
be a month from now.
This was the time of year for class
parlies and outside recess every day.
The jungle gyms-Were mine for the
taking each and every lunchtime.
Now, recess means little more than
a short trip to a yogurt store downtown
or five minutes df Frisbec on campus.
And even these moments can’t be
enjoyed because of the sense of guilt
looming over you for shirking some
sort of responsibility somewhere.
Once upon a time, this was the time
to turn in books and damage reports
and get an approving smile from Mrs.
Davis as she checked your name off
This year we’ll turn our books in
and get ripped off, no matter what
condition the books are in.
There was a time when the end of
a school year sent me into a perpetual
state of happiness. Now it sends me
into a state of panic.
I used to look forward to the last
days of school as an end to hours of
Now I see the final days of the
semester marked by days of studying
trying to make up for lost time.
What are we supposed to do about
all those projects we heard about in
the first week of class and put off as
long as we possibly could? There’s no
where left to put them.
I’d give a great analogy here, but
I’m afraid my professor might read it
and find out just how far behind I
really am. As it stands now, I can
always say I was talking about an
other class I’ve been blowing off for
the last three and a half months.
I have six — count ‘em six —
papers left to write, as well as the
usual barrage of tests, quizzes and
assignments to complete before the
oh-so-stringentdead week policy goes
The time to study is finally upon
me. I’ve got to bury myself in the
stacksof Love Library and plod away.
The only thing that can keep me from
it would be a sudden rash of warm,
Sunday was a nice day; maybe
there’s hope for me yet.
Today’s forecast: colder and windy
with a 60 percent chance of rain.
Extended forecast: crappy.
Just my luck.
Mott is a senior news-editorial and En
glish major, an associate news editor and a
Daily Nebraskan columnist. _
Upon leaving the theater after
watching “Falling Down,” I
could immediately predict
the conventional review wisdom on
the film. “It’s a story about a white
male who can’t handle giving any
ground to non-white non-males.” My
expectations were more than realized
to say the least in a Newsweek cover
story on the movie entitled, “White
The author’s words were predict
able. White males, so the reviewer
thought, were increasingly
marginalized by a culture committed
against them. In view of history —
and of course he trotted out Colum
bus, Thomas Jefferson as a slave
owner, etc. — they apparently de
serve the bashing they are getting.
And thus, when the race-gender
ethnicity evangelists insist on impos
ing turnabout, white males should
stop complaining, and so to speak,
take it like a (white) man. Thirsty for
revenge, the reviewer had only shrill
platitudes against — you know who
— white Eurocentric palriarchial
The boredom provoked by reading
this article’s simpleton view of his
tory was only occasionally relieved
by the bitter shrill of a lively quote:
“The white guys who run the business
world are a bunch of shallow, bald,
middle-aged men with character dis
orders. They don’t have the emo
tional capacity that it takes to aualify
as human beings. The one good thing
about these white, male, almost ex
tinct mam mals is that they ’ re grow ing
old. We get to watch them die.”
Forgive the quoted: If it were not
for inclusion of such frightening
quotes, race-gendei-ethnicity argu
ments become something that puts
even academics to sleep. Boming.
To be sure, “Falling Down” is a
much deeper film than the problems
of the white American male. The plot
is motivated by a much more substan
tive and incisive theme than the vic
timization of white men. Rather, the
film is about the increasing isolation
of the Western self, and its victims are
of every race and gender.
males, so the
marginalized by a
Michael Douglas’ character, D
Fens, — who, by the way, is not
balding—finds himself in peril. Hav
ing lost his job through defense cuts
and his marriage through lack of self
control, the film ironically begins with
him surrounded by people, tile is in a
traffic jam that anticipates the entire
film: thousands of people, every one
alone amongst all the rest. Each per
son behind his or her own steering
wheel and with independent travel
The isolation builds as D-Fens
moves through hi^ day. All around are
people who refuse to give the slightest
courtesies. Most either will not or
cannot speak to him. That they don’t
speak the same language matters less
than that they cannot connect with
one another in any language.
In one scene, for example, D-Fens
attempts to buy breakfast at a fast
food restaurant. Of course, breakfast
ended at 10:30, and D-Fens is one
minute late. As a result, the manager
insists—in an all-too-real, mechani
cal-like tone — that D-Fens order
from the lunch menu: “That’s notour
policy, sir, it’s 10:30 and therefore
you have to order lunch. That’s our
The film is filled with this type of
bureaucratic disconnection. And as it
moves on, D-Fens longs more and
more to engage with any human.
The center of the plot, then, is a
simple pursuit: D-Fens wants to enjoy
hisdaughter’s birthday. D-Fens’ thirst
for community enrages him; he des
perately wantsacommunity to live in,
a validation that he is not isolated, not
His condition speaks to that of the
Western self. Worn out from a life of
intense individualism, modem man’s
understanding of community is only
as an environment for self-validation.
Stripped of a social substance in the
culture, thepolitical sphere now domi
nates nearly every square inch of
But the currency of the political
sphere — pure power — is
unsatisfying to the longing soul. For
D-Fens, self-validation becomes
wielding an Uzi at innocents. In
today’s community of pure politics,
Uzis are shrill demands for individual
Of course, D-Fens’ use of violence
only results in further isolation. His
temper and self-control push his wife
and children away. He never gets to
his daughter’s birthday party. In the
end, his claim on community at the
end of a gun results in him only being
killed by another who was much more
Like D-Fens, the West finds itself
more fragmented — its people more
alone than ever. When the commu
nity is purely political, we have no
where to look but to power as an
antidote for our lonely souls.
Unless we re-establish our connec
tions with others, unless we recon
struct a social sphere, we will, like D
Fens, end up destroying ourselves.
One thing we can be sure of: Such a
social disintegration will not be dis
criminatory — the losses will go far
beyond the beleaguered white male. .
Young Is • first-year law student and a
Daily Nebraskan columnist
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