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Joseph Wagner South Pasadena

Marc Cooper’s story on Colombia and the involvement of the U.S. in the Colombian conflict lacks in research and draws irresponsible and dangerous conclusions. The largest consumer of Colombian drugs in the world can not possibly deny its already terrible contribution to the ills of its close neighbor. Mr. O’Grady says it is beyond him to see how any U.S. involvement would help alleviate things in Colombia. How about starting with some action on drug consumption in the U.S., and dropping the double standard where growing and producing drugs is evil but consuming the, is cool?

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POWERS

Re: “It Ain’t Cool” [On, March 29–April 4]. Fine piece by John Powers. I’m very sorry to hear about Henry Sheehan getting let go by the Orange County Register. But I was more amazed that he was even there for that long. Mostly because he’s so good, and the few times I’ve seen that paper (when visiting family in Seal Beach), it’s been, well, if not lame, certainly limping.

—Sally Cragin Fitchburg, Massachusetts

 

I was put off, to say the least, by John Powers’ article. Undeniably, Harry Knowles is a film geek, and no, he has no life outside of enjoying films, but the man has etched out a symbiotic way of life with the very thing he loves so dearly. If only every human on Earth found such luck.

—Joe Scott Wake Forest, North Carolina

That great inrush of air you hear is the collective online film community sighing in despair as, yet again, Harry Knowles is assumed to represent us and what we do. I sympathize with John Powers — I really do. Film criticism is suffering a crisis of major proportions, and the news of Henry Sheehan’s ouster is distressing. Powers’ point that few serious critics can make a living at the job is especially well taken, because there are many of us on the Internet who take the job seriously and make little or no money at it. We are not all "self-promoting fanboys," which is perhaps why no one seems to take much notice of us. But there are a goodly handful of us who don’t get flown to movie sets to hobnob with stars and directors, who use exclamation points judiciously, who don’t break review embargoes, don’t post rumors or gossip, and don’t review test screenings. We have a decent understanding of film history, and we don’t have editors and advertisers pressuring us to be nice to the industry. We are independent and fearlessly opinionated.

There may not be many of us online, but we’re not that hard to find: A quick look through critics quoted at Rotten Tomatoes would reveal some wonderful, professional critics on the Internet: Jeremiah Kipp, Jill Cozzi, Bryant Frazer, to name a few. I hope that my own work may be Considered AS professional as it is possible to be without me actually being paid for the work.

We’re here. We’re not as sexy a story as that of Harry Knowles’ latest ravings, but please don’t assume that Knowles is the future of film "criticism." He isn’t. Some of us will carry the torch until the art is appreciated once again.

MaryAnn Johanson http://www.flickfilosopher.com

 

Once again, a column bemoaning the death of conventional film criticism trots out the odious Harry Knowles as the one and only symbol of where film criticism is headed. Powers is correct in lamenting the rise of syndicated critics in print media, as if fewer opinions about anything were a good thing. In an era in which CNN’s Walter Jacobson meets with Republican leaders to find out how the crown jewel of televised news can better cannibalize the audience of the yapping Fox News, though, I suppose it’s inevitable. Still, I’d like to reassure John Powers, and your readers, that serious film criticism for its own sake is alive and well, though you may not find it in the usual places.

As conventional print opportunities fall by the wayside, critics who write about film have taken to the Web, and they aren’t all fanboys like Harry Knowles. Indeed, the most fiercely independent voices have found a home on the Web, because we aren’t invited to press junkets, we often don’t go to special screenings, we are often completely ignored by the studios. Many of us sit in movie theatres with the rest of the hoi polloi, to achieve the full filmgoing experience.

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