I am one of the many people who found the ad insert for Mr. Wong’s Kitchen [September 29– October 5 issue] highly offensive. While I regret that the ad was ever disseminated, I write to commend you for your policy of rejecting “racially offensive” ads and for the apology you printed in your Letters column. I also believe it demonstrates genuine regret and integrity for you to turn over your ill-gotten profits from the ad to a community organization that works to address injustices in the Asian–Pacific American community. Thank you for your responsiveness to the community.
—Daniel M. Mayeda
Thanks for your apology for running that racially offensive Mr. Wong’s Kitchen insert. In the ad, Icebox.com says that “Mr. Wong can’t even pronounce the word ‘food.’” Can he pronounce “racist rat bastards”? I can.
Icebox have been ignoring protests from hundreds of Asian-Americans for months; they’ve been ignoring attempts by APA media and civil rights groups to meet and talk with them for nearly as long, and they have been pushing this racist caricature even harder this year. They say their policy precludes only material that fosters “hate.” Listen, hate-mongers and propagandists have been using subhuman caricatures of Jews, African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, etc., since they learned how to draw — it’s the oldest method in the book for depicting the inherent inferiority of the “mud races.”
Icebox thinks this is “cutting edge,” not hateful. Well, it’s fostering hatred within me. Deeply felt hatred toward the racist rat bastards at Icebox.
I’m disgusted by your apology for the Mr. Wong’s Kitchen advertising insert [Letters page, October 6–12]. I didn’t find the fake Chinese menu especially funny, nor do I particularly like the show on Icebox, but to claim this minor piece of comedy, playing off stereotypes, was offensive is absurd. You “deeply regret the impact this has had on [y]our readers” and state that the insert even bothered some irony-impaired staffers. Really now. You regularly publish political commentary, including cartoons, that is far more offensive, but I guess as long as you insult the right people, it’s okay to be cruel and unfair.
You claim to “honor and practice free speech” when, in fact, you hate free speech. Free speech doesn’t mean only supporting the stuff you like, and censoring ads because they don’t meet your one-sided racial, aesthetic and, Lord help us, moral standards. It means taking chances sometimes, being willing to publish even things that may be troublesome because it’s not your job to please everyone, to have a hair trigger on the offense meter — just waiting to jump all over anyone who expresses the unorthodox.
Instead of sending the money you received for the ad to the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, better you should donate it to some group that fights for free speech. Maybe you can pay for a seminar on the subject and learn what freedom really means.
Manohla Dargis has a great many issues that should be kept between her and her therapist, but somehow they keep finding their way into the pages of the L.A. Weekly. First there was that ad hominem attack on poor Humbert Humbert, whom she described as a “soul killer” (?!) in a review of Adrian Lyne’s Lolita. Then there were the bizarrely berserk, weirdly personal, oddly hurt-feeling knife assaults on Woody Allen. And now we’re supposed to take Dargis seriously as a film critic when she writes, in her review of Dr. T and the Women [New Film Releases, October 13–19], that “Robert Altman hasn’t made a decent movie since he posted that poisonous valentine to Los Angeles, The Long Goodbye”?
Well, that was 1973. Since then, Altman has made a few movies Ms. Dargis may have heard of, namely Nashville, 3 Women, Secret Honor and Vincent & Theo, any one of which is fit to become a dictionary definition of the word “masterpiece.” But in DargisWorld, they’re dogshit! Especially when compared to Dargis classics such as Groundhog Day, The Matrix and the deathless Romance, a ghastly Gallic episode of Red Shoe Diaries, the appeal of which to Ms. Dargis . . . like I said, best left in the shrink’s office.
Ms. Dargis’ attack on Altman’s mellow, lovely Dr. T and the Women is like a cartoon of late-’80s P.C. whistle-blowing. Dr. T is about as “misogynistic” as a Lifetime movie starring Meredith Baxter Birney, but because it treats its Dallas matrons as figures of affectionate fun, Ms. Dargis is royally put out — this isn’t grrrl power! She cannot tell the difference between, say, a Chekhov one-act farce and The Man Show. If the audience giggles at characters played by girls — bad, bad, bad! If a female isn’t either an ass-kicking mannequin, like the heroine of The Matrix, or a rope-bound masochist, like the heroine of Romance — well, it just won’t wash.
I have often nodded and â chuckled at Ms. Dargis’ opinions, if not her prose (which usually seems to want another pass, or two). I found her high-school-crush-y intro to the printed script of Pulp Fiction to be darn cute. But this Altman attack is a deal breaker. Please urge her to take another look at the glorious Dr. T. The mote is in her eye, not Altman’s.
Ah, to have the specific insight Dargis has that has eluded not only “Altman cultists,” but scores of film critics and historians who labor under the delusion that Altman has indeed made several good movies since The Long Goodbye. Dr. T and the Women may be a mess — Altman has made messes from time to time — but Dargis undermines her own credibility as a serious critic with her tendency toward this kind of absurd, reactionary revisionism. Will she be so willing, in 15 years or so, to be so brutally honest in her assessment of a director to whose cult she currently belongs — say, Wong Kar-Wai?
LAST OF THE BIG TIPPERS
Ariel Swartley wrote that the average entrée at the Pacific Dining Car costs $32, and that the average dinner for two costs $70 (Bread and Ink, October 13–19). According to these figures, all other courses add up to only $6. Why don’t I believe that?
YOU COULD TRY HOLDING YOUR BREATH
Why doesn’t the L.A. Weekly have more stories on our next president, George W. Bush? George W. Bush is the man!
Re: Greg Burk’s “The Elixirs” [October 6–12]. I enjoyed reading about Charles Lloyd, but must art directors and/or editors continually print photos of sax players backward to fit some graphic concept? Saxophones can’t be played backward, à la Hendrix. Would you reverse Jimi to fit the page?
THE EDITOR REPLIES: Don’t quote me on this, but we probably already have.
In last week’s “Signs of ‘Arrival’” Offbeat item, the name of L.A. X . . . Press film critic William Margold was misspelled, as was that of publicist Jet Fore. We regret the errors.