Goodness of past often forgotten by young

Goodness of past often forgotten by young

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Goodness of past often forgotten by young

By Ray Hanania

Southwest News-Herald, Thursday, April 10, 2014

English: portrait of Mickey Rooney

English: portrait of Mickey Rooney (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This year, two child stars from the silent movie era who rose to prominence during and after World War II died. They were both great role models to my generation. Shirley Temple, who died on Feb. 10, and Mickey Rooney, who died this past week on April 6.

A lot of young people today probably didn’t really know that much about Temple or Rooney.

For my generation, baby boomers born in the bright shining light of hope cast after we defeated the Nazis and Japanese during World War II, Rooney and Temple represent what today’s child stars have failed to become.

I’m thinking of Justin Bieber, the once innocent teen star who just can’t seem to stay out of trouble, and Miley Cyrus, who went from Little Miss Innocence to aggressively pushing the sex envelope.

It’s hard to imagine Bieber or Cyrus serving in the same kind of inspiring role for younger people that Temple and Rooney did for young people during my generation.

It’s true that as Shirley Temple and Mickey Rooney got older, the significance of their public lives changed, and I am sure the same might happen to Cyrus and Bieber.

But it’s no accident that today’s emphasis is on shock and the focus during my generation was more on conveying a wider positive message of hope and happiness coming out of the dark age of World War II.

I remember watching all of Temple’s and Rooney’s films. They were inspiring. They were happy. They brought our family together. My parents watched both Temple and Rooney as much as I did as a child. I really doubt that as a parent, I can share the same kind of pride in watching Bieber or Cyrus with my son, although in all honesty, I think Cyrus doesn’t deserve all the criticism.

movie star Shirley Temple

movie star Shirley Temple (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When we think of Cyrus, we think of “twerking,” a stunt with a strong sexual connotation. She “twerked” during a live performance at the 2013 Video Music Awards while Robin Thicke, the son of former talk-show host Alan Thicke, sang his extremely suggestive song “Blurred Lines,” which features extremely suggestive and raunchy lyrics. Everyone criticized Cyrus for acting out the sexually suggestive lyrics of Thicke’s song, while few questioned Thicke for writing a song that while it has a great “beat,” has lyrics that are clearly extremely suggestive.

Why the hypocrisy?

It’s a problem with today’s society. On one hand, the public spends millions to buy a song, and when someone acts out the song’s intent, the public reacts with shock and even anger?

In other words, you can’t contribute to the problem and then complain that the problem exists. The very public condemning Cyrus is fueling the success of what she represents.

We didn’t have these problems with Mickey Rooney or Shirley Temple.

Hollywood has stolen so many movies from the past to remake and re-release in updated form. There are so many films that have been remade and pushed to the extreme for shock value. Sexed up to offer a greater appeal.

I wish they would take the Shirley Temple and Mickey Rooney films and remake them as they were intended. It’s not easy to do.

Hollywood may not think that today’s young people are not interested in entertainment based on goodness, wholesome images and G-Ratings. But I think our young people become what our society pushes them to be.

Ray Hanania is an award-winning former Chicago City Hall reporter. Reach him at

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at, and at, and at He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper,, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.

The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.

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Ray Hanania