NO BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN
[August 31–September 6]. Superb conversation between Clive Barker and Dennis
Cooper. Hats off to all involved.
—W.K. Scott Meyer
Clive Barker on the cover of the L.A. Weekly? This guy doesn’t even
register a “1” on L.A.’s celebrity Richter scale. Let’s be a little more discerning
and place some emphasis on stories that have real value to your readership.
Dennis Cooper’s interview with Clive Barker contained the most insightful
observations on the fundamental reasons for the “cult of celebrity” I have ever
read. I am fascinated by the multitudes of people for whom movie stars, musicians
and talk-show hosts are more real than their own relatives and who spend a lot
of their psychic energy on people they don’t know and probably never will. Conversely,
it must be unnerving (or perhaps ego-inflating) for a newly minted celebrity
to suddenly realize that he or she is the subject of the fantasies of millions
of people he or she has never met. Mr. Barker is right that “Sex lies underneath
our appetite” for celebrities, and that way too many folks “attach themselves
to unworthy divinities.”
In regard to guest editor Dennis Cooper’s lavish and somewhat incestuous interview
with Clive Barker: There is so much wrong, it’s hard to know where to begin.
Perhaps Mr. Cooper should have excused himself from the task of writing the
piece in the first place, since his slavish devotion to “Renaissance dude” Barker
massively intrudes on any claim to objectivity, or even reality, in approaching
the subject. The questions went from the sublime to the ridiculous. Cooper never
“came across a detail that was clichéd or lazy” in Barker’s work — give me a
break! Is this an interview or a tongue bath? Admitted, Mr. Barker has broken
some ground in his chosen area, but his writing, both for the screen and the
printed word, is clichéd, masturbatory, juvenile in the extreme, and so limited
in scope as to appeal to an audience that is challenged both emotionally and
in age. I think Dennis let the moment go to his head. Okay, so he admires Barker.
Drastically. Keep it between the sheets, please, honey. Work this flabby doesn’t
belong in a literary supplement, much less in the pages of the L.A. Weekly.
—Stephen Patt, M.D.
Just finished reading your cover story on Mr. Barker. How pretentious and
overblown can you get? As for Mr. Barker’s new Disney connection, this symbolizes
nothing more than his final capitulation to the grandest of all Hollywood schlockmeisters.
Things must be getting pretty tight, financially speaking, in Cliveland. As
for your cover photo — how about some originality, guys? This “look” was done
in the mid-1980s by a true original — Bruce Springsteen.
Mr. Barker represents the worst Hollywood has to offer — an aging, lackluster
talent looking for a large piggybank to supplement his diminishing fortunes.
Truly a real-life “horror story” of epic proportions!
Dennis Cooper’s Clive Barker interview was the most well-rounded journalistic
portrayal of the man I’ve ever read. While I hoped they would delve a little
deeper into Barker’s homosexuality (of which I was unaware beforehand), the
two authors superbly conveyed several key aspects of the creative whatsis, always
a difficult subject to verbally translate from the abstract into layman’s terms.
BLACK, WHITE, GRAYDON AND (JUST A TOUCH OF) BROWN
Gets Fingered” [August 31–September 6]. “The problem, of course, remains
not one of blackness or brownness but whiteness,” says Ernest Hardy. Freddie
Prinze Jr. is too “whitebread,” too “bland,” and often appears in “movies in
which the whitest of white folk are at the center.” Hardy then whines that Prinze
is “just ethnic enough to have flava, but not so much that he doesn’t blend
in effortlessly into the airless [read: light-skinned] films in which he’s starred.”
Let’s see, Ernest: His father was Puerto Rican and Jewish; maybe he should show
up in all his movies in a drop-top Chevy with a big Star of David dangling from
the rear-view mirror, sporting an accent à la Rosie Perez. Would that make him
ethnic enough for your discerning palate? According to Hardy, “whiteness” is
so pervasive and insidious that even hip-hop and Latino music are not safe from
its tentacles: “J.Lo shares peroxide with Lil’ Kim and Beyoncé.” Peroxide? Oh
my God, that means . . . blond hair! Holy highlights and streaks, it’s everywhere!
Hey, Lil’ Kim also likes to dye her hair bright red and sometimes even green.
Does this mean she secretly â longs to be . . . what? Irish?
Enough of this toad. Or is having your own little black racist-in-residence
just so hip and cutting-edge that you just can’t help yourselves?
Yet again, Ernest Hardy speaks the truth, breaking down the question of why
Freddie Prinze Jr. is so successful, and I cannot agree more — he’s non-threatening
(with a touch of “Latino spice”), and that’s how Hollywood likes it! I am glad
that Mr. Hardy addressed the issue of whiteness and how it continues to play
a role in the success of our peroxide-made-blond “artists of color” like J.Lo,
Beyoncé, Lil’ Kim and Shakira. Hardy has always spoken honestly in his articles,
and I always keep my eyes open for articles written by him. I hope that you
continue to support his work.
GROANS BEAT SMIRKS, 2-1
Re: John Powers’ “Meanwhile
Back at the Ranch” [September 7–13]. An excellent article. I am one of many
who no longer get “news” from TV and radio, but from the Internet. Sites like
buzzflash.com, bartcop.com and smirkingchimp.com give me
links to great articles like this. Thank you. I hope this article gets reprinted
in every paper in America. I feel we’re rapidly losing all the gains made in
the last few decades.
Thanks to John Powers for his insightful and significant analysis of the press
and the Bush administration. His is among the very few voices that say it as
it is. At a time of personal despair over the state of the nation, and the erosion
of our democracy in a few short months, this was a beacon of light, for it focused
on the truth, and that is all we have at the moment. I feel a bit more hopeful
for the moment, because the article made so much sense in a time of such madness.
Thank you again.
Brooklyn, New York
The only problem with this analysis is that Powers keeps acting as if Bush
himself is doing something besides picking his nose and passing gas.
THE COSTS OF WRONGSAYING
Re: Charles Rappleye’s “Pangs
of Hollywood” [September 7–13]. Interesting article on the George Christy
tribulations and what went on behind the scenes. One quibble: You said the investigation
by Cahners cleared Variety editor in chief Peter Bart of wrongdoing.
Actually, I think they found him culpable of many of the claims on offensive
language used — that’s why they docked him three weeks’ pay and sent him to
sensitivity training. At least that is my reading of it.
—Keith J. Kelly
New York Post