LIKE VIDAL . . .
Last Defender of the American Republic” [July 5–11]. Thank God the Weekly
had the courage to publish Marc Cooper’s revealing interview with that grand
old lion of the left, Gore Vidal. Had the Weekly failed in this regard,
I might never have known that the United States “planned to occupy Afghanistan
in October, and Osama, or whoever it was who hit us in September, launched a
pre-emptory strike.” Holy Osama (or whoever it was)! Gore must have some remarkable
sources — not that Cooper could be bothered to ask about them.
“Last defender” indeed. So this is what the American left has become in the
wake of 9/11: a purveyor of imbecile conspiracy theories that have all the resonance
(and intelligence) of Holocaust denial. If nothing else, 9/11 has managed to
close the circle between the wackos of the left and the right.
If Gore Vidal didn’t exist, would writers like Marc Cooper — in the interest
of getting some laughs — have to invent him? Vidal may score points in some
quarters for his “cute” style, but as a pundit he has a dismal record. Over
the years, his conspiracy theories have grown as wacky as any talk-show host’s,
and his anti-Semitism has become so vile it rivals that of fellow bigot Pat
Buchanan. If Vidal is still defending anything, it’s his right to make an ass
of himself and become famous doing it.
I’m savvy to the fact that you published the Gore Vidal feature not because
Mr. Vidal has a breathlessly vast geopolitical insight based primarily on his
ability to make stuff up for money. You published it because, well, he’s Gore
Vidal. As you noted in the same issue, Vanity Fair was about to publish
the homophobic rants of Mike Ovitz, and I can guess that, again, this had little
to do with his insight into gay psychology and more to do with the fact that,
hey, he’s Mike Ovitz. That’s cool. I’m a critical reader, and I can form my
own opinions about whether or not two celebrities have diced squid for brains.
I just wanted to voice my support for the skeptical approach that David Corn
took in his fine “To
Protect and To Spin” [June 14–20], which so nicely debunked conspiracy peddler
Michael Ruppert. We all have a framework of myths we’ve constructed in our heads
— Mr. Vidal’s is rivaled only by Watts Towers — and it’s nice to ground them
once in a while with facts and evidence, and humor. I need less of the “This
man says we faked the moon landing, tonight on Fox!” and more Carl Sagan.
I read the Gore Vidal interview with some interest. Sure, some of his comments
seem nutty, paranoid even, but his critique of interventionist American foreign
policy is spot on. Bravo!
Then I practically choked on my martini when I saw that Vidal accuses right-wingers
of hating blacks and other minorities. That’s pretty rich coming from a man
who recently wrote an essay (“The Last Empire,” in The Last Empire: Essays,
1992–2000, Doubleday, 2001) advocating that the United States, Canada, Europe
and Russia form a “northern confederacy” of white nations as a defense against
the nonwhite hordes. A textbook case of the pot calling the kettle African-American.
FORM TRUMPS CONTENT
CD review by Oliver Wang [June 14–20]. In an issue devoted to exploring
the question “Is rock criticism dead?” I find it ironic that you couldn’t find
a rap fan to review Eminem’s new CD. Notice that I did not say “hip-hop fan”
— I know Wang is a hip-hop fan because I’ve read his work in the Weekly
many times. But just once I’d like to read what a “rap fan” thinks of rap music
in the pages of your magazine.
Wang’s review reminds me of the review the Weekly gave for N.W.A’s
Efil4zaggin more than a decade ago. Back then, the issue wasn’t how good
the album was in the wake of Ice Cube’s departure, or whether Dr. Dre’s production
skills had improved, or whether Eazy-E was funny or just annoying. The review
focused on the group’s misogyny and glamorization of violence, and its effect
on an ever-growing young white audience — which were valid issues 10 years ago,
when an N.W.A album was truly a new and shocking experience. Since then, we’ve
heard about it so many times from critics that it has become redundant.
Wang has good points to make about the tedious nature of the new CD’s beats,
but ignores the fact that this new CD is largely produced â by Eminem himself,
which would explain why the beats are so tedious in the first place. I’ve heard
the whole CD, and the Eminem-produced tracks are okay at best; Dre’s tracks,
by comparison, leap out from the speakers.
The week the CD came out, I was listening to it with a friend at my apartment.
Two girls came by, and when they heard the CD blaring from the speakers, one
girl asked if the CD was good. My roommate and I had just finished debating
its merits. I asked her if she were a rap fan — yes, she said. I asked her if
she were an Eminem fan — again, she replied in the affirmative. I told her that
she’d like the lyrics, but the beats were lackluster. She thanked me for my
opinion and went on her way. She didn’t ask me if I thought Eminem was a sexist
or a homophobe; she just wanted to know if she should shell out close to $20
on a CD.
My suggestion: In the future, get a rap fan to review rap music.
DON’T KISS ME, GUIDO
Re: Nikki Finke on Michael Ovitz [“Vanity
Too Fair,” July 5–11]. Finke wants to know why Vanity Fair writer
Bryan Burroughs didn’t challenge Michael Ovitz for his complaints about a Gay
Mafia undermining Ovitz’s entertainment career. What I wonder is why Ovitz was
ever working in Hollywood to begin with. Books such as William Mann’s Behind
the Screen and films such as The Celluloid Closet exhaustively document
that gay people have had a heavy influence at all levels of the entertainment
world since Hollywood as an industry began, around the beginning of the 20th
century. If Ovitz finds homosexual people offensive, fine. But why did he get
into the entertainment business? It is tantamount to opening a business in South-Central
Los Angeles and creating a hostile work environment for black and Hispanic employees.
And one would think Ovitz, being Jewish, would have more compassion for oppressed
people. It makes no sense from any perspective.
THE OLD ONE-TWO
Dear Brendan Bernhard: Thoroughly enjoyed your series
on the World Cup. Not to boast, old chap, but back in May I did pick Brazil-Germany
to come in one-two, though admittedly erred on show (Argentina).
Unfortunately I couldn’t find a bookie. Would you be willing to share yours?
Great column! By the way, the Brazil side played the German Democratic Republic
side on June 26, 1974, in a non-finals match. So they have met before.
In last week’s Slush column, we misidentified the first
name of the “Disco Teorema” artist, which is Keith, not David.