Losing the War at Home
I was deeply saddened by Seven McDonald’s to-the-point bus-depot interview with Private First Class Mendoza [24 Seven, “Onward, American Soldier,” Dec. 22–28], given that the 19-year-old was heading off to train for a war about which he was woefully misinformed.
From the poverty culture that is America’s working class, these (dare I say intentionally) undereducated kids are given a Potemkin-village picture of U.S. history/policy/intentions. Then, on the thinnest of rationales — if not outright lies — by the likes of Mendoza’s “staff sergeant” on up, they volunteer to be cannon fodder. The sweet dreams of “freedom,” “patriotism” and “national sacrifice” become the last refuge of a hopeless generation that faces drugs, gangs and a do-you-want-fries-with-that? future as its only alternatives.
Where are the voices shouting “Stop! Don’t go! Don’t fall for their line!”? There are virtually no articulate or contrary arguments reaching the sorry souls doing the actual fighting and dying. This one grunt’s story says it all: We’ve already lost the war at home. Let’s face facts: The Statue of Liberty (not to mention our president) has no clothes! And it makes me weep.
“Burnout” Fades to Black
Regarding the decision to drop Paul Malcolm’s column about DVD releases [Confessions of a Video Store Burnout, “The End,” Dec. 29, 2006–Jan. 4, 2007]: Well, this just blows! I’ve looked to Paul Malcolm for ideas on what to rent. I’ve waited for Thursday to roll around to hear from a good friend about films. I’ve pulled his writing out, folded it up in my back pocket and discarded the rest of the Weekly to carry his words with me on lunch breaks, trips to buy DVDs, or as a time killer waiting for the show to start at the New Beverly Cinema. Shame on these new owners for stopping this fun!
I’d just like to formally register my dismay at the cancellation of Paul Malcolm’s excellent column, Confessions of a Video Store Burnout. Every week I looked forward to his interesting video discoveries (often ignored by any other media outlet). Unlike many, he often went out of his way to champion California filmmakers, like Bruce Schwartz and Craig Baldwin — worthwhile artists I might not have discovered otherwise. His writing was solid and entertaining. Bluntly, you screwed up. I can only imagine what your management thinks of the L.A. Weekly’s readership. Hear this: We’re not a bunch of complacent dolts, people. If you continue to remove the individuality of the Weekly (whether it’s insidiously, or gradually, as what’s happened with the utterly un-“eclectic” KCRW), all bets are off. Our relationship is done, and your paper will languish in Jiffy Lube waiting rooms and in stacks at the entrances to corporate bookstore chains. I will say one positive thing: You still have some great writers on staff (Scott Foundas and Doug Harvey are two of my personal favorites) who can not only write, but write about the arts in this city with style, humor and, above all, discernment. Don’t continue down this road.
They Protest Too Much
This is in reference to Nikki Finke’s article on the recent remake of Black Christmas [Deadline Hollywood, “It’s a Wonderful Life?,” Dec. 15–21]: Wake up. The more you protest these films, the more successful they become. I am not a fan, nor do I go to or support this type of movie. But when are she, and others like her, going to learn that there is a market for this kind of crap, and castigating the filmmakers only gives them more publicity? Her article cites the 1984 protests against Silent Night, Deadly Night, which went on to do “great box office” and four sequels. Has a protest ever hurt a film? Almost without exception all the “protests” succeed in doing is raising the film’s profile. If a reviewer can’t avoid raising the public profile of a movie appealing to the lowest common denominator by ignoring it completely, at least give it a review commenting on the lack of production values and story quality, and move on.
Gene Kelly II
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Everybody’s a Critic
Just got back from a production of Eurydice, which has been hyped the past two weeks in your Stage section. It was described as “achingly beautiful.” On the contrary, it was pretty bad. Applause barely outlasted the actors leaving the stage, and grumbling was overheard on the way out. My girlfriend and I were speculating about who knows whom at the Weekly. Bottom line is, a few more misleading reviews like that and we’ll look elsewhere for our theater recommendations.