* Is it unreasonable to find disturbing irony in tomorrow morning's ABC News special for children about the Persian Gulf war?
There's no arguing the good intentions behind the live 90-minute "Answering Children's Questions" (at 10:30, Channel 13). Hosted by news anchor Peter Jennings, it offers viewers a toll-free telephone number to call and ask ques-tions of military personnel.
However, critics of Saturday morning children's programming TTC have long assailed the networks for the crass predominance of mindless, often violent and heavily commercial cartoon shows. The worst failing, perhaps, is that kids are offered so little that informs or challenges their intellects.
That could be said of other realms of TV, of course. But isn't it a shame it has taken a war to stimulate a better way to program to young people? And wouldn't it be nice if other areas of public affairs could be addressed the same way, at least occasionally?
* Has anybody else been surprised at the quickness the media have shown in turning the week-old war story into a business story?
The most glaring example we have heard was on National Public Radio yesterday, when an interview subject was noting the Soviet Union may now have trouble selling arms to other nations because of the ineffectiveness of the Scud missiles it sold to Iraq.
"Their toys aren't performing as well as our toys," said the analyst, and we hope sarcasm was the intent, rather than a shocking insensitivity to the selling of death and destruction.
War is a deadly business, but make no mistake: It is a business, from the manufacturers of weaponry to the entrepreneurs selling Operation Desert Shield T-shirts on Baltimore street corners.
* Does having a taste for music videos automatically imply that your attention span cannot stretch beyond about 30 seconds?
We ask because of a rather provocative documentary premiering on the VH-1 cable network this weekend. "Living In America," hosted by comedian/writer Sarah Bernhard, reviews the past year's censorship controversies, from Madonna's video "Justify My Love" to Robert Mapplethorpe's art photos. (The show can be seen at 6 p.m. tomorrow on the basic service, whose programming is predominantly softer rock 'n' roll and pop music than sister MTV.)
Actually, we only think it's provocative. The quick-cut presentation of video, interview and other clips, punctuated by phrases from dozens of songs, makes it almost impossible to contemplate the genuinely important issues addressed. Bernhard's sneering tone does not help, either.