Robotham articles

Me Too

Me Too

By Tom Robotham   When I was working for Hearst Magazines in the early ‘90s I got to know Helen Gurley Brown, the iconic editor of Cosmopolitan. She was a formidable woman, but a bit of an enigma. On the one hand she spent her career advancing ideas that could be considered feminist: that women

The Complex Legacy of Hugh Hefner

By Tom Robotham Every semester at Old Dominion University I teach a class called Sex, Culture & Media. My objective is to help students think critically about depictions of sexuality in the mass media and to consider the ways in which those depictions shape our attitudes. Our discussions of the history and impact of Playboy

The End of an Era

By Tom Robotham   Last month, Peter Barbey—the owner of The Village Voice—announced his decision to put an end to the paper’s print edition. “The Voice,” he said, “will maintain its iconic progressive brand with its digital platform….” But for those of us of a certain age, that is small consolation. Not that I was

What Makes a City Great?

By Tom Robotham   Recently The Virginian-Pilot ran a story headlined, “Virginia Beach is the Greatest City in the Country, says a new survey.” The survey in question was conducted by WalletHub, a financial-information website—not exactly in the same league as the Pew Research Center, but ok: I’ll leave that alone for now.  There are

A More Perfect Union

By Tom Robotham   We have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division and conflict and cynicism… . But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will


By Tom Robotham Donald Trump has made many revealing comments since that fateful day when he descended on the escalator in Trump Tower to announce his campaign. But his recent remark that terrorists are “losers” may be the most revealing of all. In Trump’s mind, there is nothing worse than being a “loser.” Of course,

Paris Redux

By Tom Robotham During a recent trip to Paris, as I noted last month in this space, I was reminded of Woody Allen’s observation that no single work of art can ever compare with a great city—for in great cities, “every street…is its own special art form.” Since then, I’ve been reminded that encountering such

The American People

By Tom Robotham I have a lot of pet peeves. But if I had to pick one that stands out above all others, it would be the abuse of the phrase “the American people.” You know what I’m talking about: The tendency of politicians to proclaim that “the American people want” this or that, “believe”

The Music of Democracy

By Tom Robotham   It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… ~ Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.   The day after the Women’s March on Washington, a man I know was asked by a mutual friend why he’d gone. “For my daughter,” he said. Fair enough. I went