The Devil and Mrs. Doubtfire

ROBIN WILLIAMS as “Mrs. Doubtfire.”

When I was growing up – assuming that ever happened – we were told that the biggest threat was communism, especially Russian communism.

Made sense: they had a big army, atomic weapons and put millions of people in deadly work camps.

After a while, we moved on to the Arabs, who were going to buy our country and raise gasoline prices to $5 a gallon (imagine that?). They were followed in quick succession by the Japanese who made better cars – for the most part – and worked 28 hours a day and were going to outcompete us.

The Iranian hostage crisis, followed by 9/11, made Islamic terrorism the principal worry, which lead us into Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Communism is near-dead around the world and the OPEC Arabs are facing a future in which climate change worries and the rise of electric cars is making their chief export worth less and less.

Nature abhors a vacuum, and so do journalists and politicians. So the Thing to Fear appears to be … men wearing woman’s clothes.

Why, I myself, do not have the desire (or figure) to carry this off, I point out that this has been around for a long time, and the Republic has not fallen. In Shakespeare’s day, men portrayed women on stage. Lonely soldiers and sailors would stage silly burlesque shows between combat missions, and we still won both World Wars. Among the most beloved films were “Some Like It Hot,” starring Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis (banned in Kansas but received rave reviews and big box office) and “Mrs. Doubtfire,” starring Robin Williams.

The comedy in these shows comes from mocking stereotypes of how women – and men – act and react and interact. I doubt that anyone watching Tom Hanks (“Bosom Buddies”) or Dustin Hoffman (“Tootsie”) suddenly felt a desire to switch teams – so to speak – or get surgery.

Of course, there’s always the possibility of evil forces behind it. Remember Flip Wilson’s “Geraldine,” and her excuse for spending too much money on clothes? “The devil made me do it.”

There you go. Our next worry: Satan in the fashion industry. We can’t let the job of bugaboo go vacant.

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