Paul Kengor is hoping to create a new faux-scandal surrounding Shirley Temple Black’s passing.
Writing in the perpetual-outrage-machine WorldNetDaily, Kengor asserts that Americans now ignore or actively dislike the child star-turned-ambassador because she didn’t “pole dance or ‘twerk,’” and now they refuse to mourn her appropriately.
“Our culture is too obsessed with Miley Cyrus and gay marriage to give proper recognition to [Temple Black],” Kengor writes, leaving us to wonder who exactly is criticizing the late actress.
I learned only yesterday that Shirley Temple, the iconic child actress, died earlier this week at age 85. Reports on her death were easy to miss. I went through my usual scan of various websites and saw nothing. I fortunately caught a buried “Shirley Temple, R.I.P.” by a writer at a political website.
I was dismayed by the sparse reaction to the loss of this woman who lived a great American life. Had Shirley Temple died 50 years ago, or even 30 years ago, the country would have stopped. People everywhere would have paused to give Temple her due. It would have been the lead in every newspaper.
But not today. Our culture is too obsessed with Miley Cyrus and gay marriage to give proper recognition to a woman who was one of the most acclaimed, respected, and even cherished Americans, a household name to children and adults alike.
In the 1934 classic, “Bright Eyes,” Shirley played a five-year-old who lost her father in an airplane crash and then lost her mother. She is comforted by loving people who would do anything for her, including her godfather, who is identified as just that. The godfather behaves like a true godfather. The movie includes constant, natural references to faith, never shying from words like God, Heaven, and even Jesus—verboten in Hollywood today.
Today’s sneering secular audiences would reflexively dismiss the film as Norman Rockwell-ish. To the contrary, the movie is hardly sugar-coated. Just when your heart is broken from the death of sweet Shirley’s dad, her mom is killed by a car while carrying a cake for Shirley on Christmas day.
That doesn’t remind me of any Norman Rockwell portrait I’ve seen.
What such cynics really mean is that the film isn’t sufficiently depraved for modern tastes. Shirley doesn’t pole dance or “twerk.” She doesn’t do a darling little strip tease for the boys while singing “Good Ship, Lollipop.” The references to God are not in vain or in the form of enlightening blasphemy. And the movie has a happy, not miserable, ending.
Come to think of it, maybe this isn’t a movie for modern audiences!
For 80 years, Shirley Temple’s bright eyes brightened the big screen. They reflected what was good and decent in this country. She embodied what made America great, and she brightened our lives in the process.