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FINEFROCK Where Are The Adults? 
by Steve Finefrock - Hollywood Forum [scriptwriter] 6/27/06

Too Many Baptistes

Claire Bretécher drew "Bringing Up Baptiste" many years ago, an old full-page cartoon tale told in twelve succinct frames, not yet to be found on the internet [see below]. This child-rearing metaphor summarizes where we are today -- and were over two decades ago, when it was published -- in American foreign policy, domestic policy, immigration, political correctness, child-rearing doctrine and the whole host of cultural warfare worries. My photocopy is six or seven generations blurred, but its meaning is clear, as in the first frame, young toddler Baptiste reaches across the tea-time snack table set for his mother and a guest. Two adults, one interacting with her brattish boy, the other helplessly observing the illustrative mini-drama.

Mother: "No, Baptiste, you are too small to drink tea. You have your soda." Baptiste fills the air with wailing tears, reaching across the tea table in the second frame, as mother decries: "No, Baptiste! When I say no, it's no... do you want to get hit?" Third frame reveals mom proffering the tea cup, as Baptiste slurps the taste of victory, amidst parental muttering of a surrendering "Oh, dear" as her guest merely looks out of the frame, to the reader, a hint of the growing disgust to emerge.


Founder of Hollywood Forum, a speaker-bureau and panel-discussion vehicle to "Bring the Potomac to the Palisades" on issues that overlap politics and culture with the Hollywood film-TV influence on such national concerns. His scripts have addressed politics [including a TV series pilot/bible package about state political combat, called "A State of the Union"], hazardous materials [from twelve years in emergency management, including six years managing FEMA's Superfund curriculum for hazmat], terrorism, equestrian reincarnation, serial murderer killing journalists in the nation's capitol, and fantasy about time-wasters.[go to Finefrock index]

Next, Baptiste ransacks mom's purse: "Baptiste, leave my purse alone, you have already had seventy-eight candies. Enough is enough" as her friend starts to drag hard on a cigarette, clearly disgusted at this continual surrender by Baptiste's weak-kneed 'parent' unequipped to avoid a losing fight. Next, Baptiste has retrieved a candy, and mom 'takes charge' by uttering, "Okay, but no more. Here, I will unwrap it." Her friend finishes a puff of smoke, and in the next frame asks the mom, "Now what were we saying" as the mom sputters, "Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear" upon Baptiste rummaging in the purse for more candies.

Now Baptiste shows his latest derring dew, lowering his trousers, the guest looking away in a smoke-trail of disgust, mom declaring, "What the... Baptiste, do not take off your pants. I'm going to give you a spanking." In the eighth frame, the guest is in a funk, looking askance under a cloud of disdain, as Baptiste ups the ante, wails at triple-volume, earning mom's surrender: "Okay, okay, take them off if you want. But shut up." Yep, anything for peace and quiet, the ultimate parental desire, and a tool any intrepid brat can use with glee, especially Baptiste. Now comes the ninth frame, the guest's cloud of smoke hovering above her expanding exasperation, Baptiste blathering to mom, "gaaaa, gaaaa, goooo, goooo" while he points to the wimpish authority figure with commanding toddler power, his tiny pants lying clumped at his ankles.

The tea-time guest just crosses her arms, the smoke a nimbus cloud of contempt, mom insisting, "No, not here, Baptiste, do you want that spanking?" Frame 11: Baptiste's tear-drenched wail enters hyperdrive, as mom gets on her knees, "You know, you're a real pain, Baptiste" -- the guest slumping into a ball, arms crossed in surrender, watching in disbelief as the twelfth frame reveals mom's pants pulled down as she's in the doggy-surrender mode, her bare bum being examined with glee by the now-triumphant Baptiste. "You see, if I don't give in, he makes my life impossible." Her guest is ready to head for the hills at this "justification" of surrender. Baptiste has won -- again -- and adult parenthood has lost. Again.

Empty threats. Failure of authority. Depleted determination. Baptiste's mom is emblematic of where we are, and where we already were when the cartoon caught my eye in earlier days, long before I was a conservative as today. Apparently, a deep space in my then somewhat liberal frontal lobes was seeing far ahead, to photocopy that revealing cartoon, keep it on the front-burner of so many accumulations these thirty years of emerging adulthood.

Breeding Battalions of Baptistes

The tea guest is the contemptuous conservative, watching the liberal Baptiste-ish parents who would be in charge, if they could regain that authority. The 'adult party' currently reigns, sort of; yet, the Baptiste-party -- dubbed the 'mommy party' by Chris Matthews' 1991 essay on the coming shift of American leadership preferences -- hopes that happy days will be here again. For them, happy days of power of course, but for America, what a tragedy to encourage even more Baptistes in government, in leadership of all levels and segments.

Baptiste is the PLO/PA, threatening the parents of the European community and the United Nations, and often getting its way. Baptiste is the spate of leftwing victicrat advocates, brattishly branding their opponents as racist, homophobic, etc., if they are not allowed to drop their drawers in public. Baptiste's mom is the surrender-first liberals, in America and even more so in Britain, and nearly totally in Europe.

Do you want to get hit?

Saddam Hussein was Baptiste, being threatened with meaningless "Enough is enough" blarney, as was Hitler, and Stalin, and a host of little bullies and big totalitarians. North Korea is a tiny Baptiste with a big ego, and sustained by another "Enough is enough" proclamation by Clinton, and now again by "allies" of America. Ditto for Iran today, who knows the list's new additions in the tomorrow. Threats proffered but never redeemed. Each "Do you want to get hit?" that is followed by more misbehavior, and dissing, merely encourages the Baptistes who are watching this kabuki-play in progress.

...if I don't give in...

In my imaginary thirteenth frame, the smouldering guest takes charge of Baptiste, with a slap on his bum, and then maybe one for mommy-fearest. In the real world, Dubya is that nimbus-clouded player, no longer willing to watch the Baptistes of our "community" be allowed more playtime at shaming mommy. Unfortunately, we can't be everywhere, do everything -- there are so many Baptiste, and not enough time, or ammo.

Claire Bretécher, you were prescient, a cartoonist descendant of Barry Goldwater, and Ronald Reagan, and Winston Churchill. Most artistes are leftwing; what was the perspective of Bretécher is unknown. She may have been commenting on French childrearing [the style hints at a French bistro, and "Baptiste" is a French moniker], and nothing more. Yet, she hit the nail on the head, and likely wanted to slap many Baptistes on the bum. We are bringing up Baptiste by the millions, in America and England and Europe, and leaving them to ferment in the Third World, and Arabia, et al.

A time capsule to be opened in a century should include this cartoon. Whatever is the condition of the Noble Experiment that is America can take solace, or sadness, at reviewing it in a hundred years. How many Baptistes will be demanding the good people to pull down their pants and assume The Position of submissive bitch, ready to be examined and exploited.

On his mom's face, I see the fuzzy features of Hillary, Gore, Pelosi, Kerry, Boxer, Clinton-42, Feinstein, et al. Yep, not enough ammo to fix the problem. In thirty years' storage in my growing collection, the situation got worse. In the year 2106, shall the Baptistes be a worldwide majority? Often I've written that there will always be enough Marines to make America able to meet its sacred mission. But there are more Baptistes created every day, being recruited to vote democrat. The Marines -- that smoke-encased, exasperated witness to Baptiste's conquest -- are not growing nearly as fast.

That's the math that will make, or break, the fuzzy world that lies ahead. CRO

copyright 2006 Steve Finefrock





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