Jar Wars

Re Richard Goldstein's piece on whether Jar Jar Binks is gay ["The Nelly Menace," June 15]: either Goldstein has decided to take a vacation from writing on anything relevant or he truly believes some of the tripe he states in this article.

Jar Jar is a computer-generated character who is kid friendly and annoying to adults, à la Barney, Big Bird, etc. Leave it to adults to read motivations and hidden messages where none lie.

I stand with the other 80 percent of adults who despised Jar Jar, but I also had the presence of mind to realize he was targeted to children, which allowed me to concentrate on the more interesting characters such as Obi-Wan and Darth Maul.

Goldstein is reading what he wants to see in the character (Star Wars has a tendency to inspire that in people), but the truth is that Jar Jar is a kid's character. He's the Tinky Winky of a long time ago and a galaxy far, far away.

Now, were Mr. Goldstein to have devoted his piece to the dreadfully inappropriate accents in this movie, that might have been a tad more relevant.

Frank Fontaine


Richard Goldstein is joking in his article about Jar Jar Binks, right? I haven't seen this film, but the idea of an alien homosexual is an absurdity, an impossibility. The words and concepts "alien" and "homosexual" are mutually exclusive. The first refers to beings not of human origin; the second, to the love of humans for others of the same sex. (When you introduce aliens into the equation, the closest expression I can think of would be "bestiality.")

I herewith coin a new term to designate the state of alien-human sexuality: "xenosexuality," which marries the Greek prefix xeno, for "foreign" or "strange," with sexuality. This makes more sense than labeling Jar Jar as something he is probably physically and genetically unequipped for.

Martin Braun

Lesbi Reel

Hooray for "The Nelly Menace." As a lesbian raised on Star Wars movies, I thought this film did a much better job than any of its predecessors of providing more than a token strong female character. There were two women on the Jedi council, there were female fighter pilots, Anakin's virgin mom was a role model for single parents, and Queen Amidala/ Padme fights. One potentially gay character and a smattering of strong women may not be enough, but it's more than we (read women and gay men) get in most mainstream movies. I'll take the Nelly Menace as a depiction of my reality over The Mummy, Entrapment, The Thirteenth Floor, Notting Hill, or A Midsummer Night's Dream any day. I think you can only read racist and sexist/homophobic steroetypes into The Phantom Menace if you have those stereotypes yourself.

To George Lucas I say, "You go, girl!"

Jacyn Piper
Olympia, Washington

Richard Goldstein replies: Regarding the Fontaine letter: So it's okay to speculate about ethnic stereotyping in Star Wars but not to examine its presentation of sexuality. Why am I not surprised by this double standard?

Naked Truth

We appreciated the psychologists' perspective on Spencer Tunick's photographs in Robin Rothman's article "Nude Awakening" [June 8]. As a psychiatrist and a medical student who were actual participant- observers interested in the psychological factors that contribute to people's conceptions of their bodies, we can give further access to the experience of posing nude for art.

In a culture where priority is given to the body and to appearance, and nakedness is associated with embarrassment, posing acts as the ultimate in desensitization, allowing individuals to confront their fears in extreme ways. We were flooded with our body- conscious anxieties as we lay on the asphalt in Times Square on April 25, and transcended the arbitrary cultural norm of nudity as inappropriate and indecent. Suddenly, we were aware and free.

The experience also transforms a person's self-concept. Posing with a group of 150 people approximates a collective ritual.

Rose S. Cohen
William Pirl

Easy Street

Mark Boal, in "Women Are Easy" [June 8], writes that "most guys will run for the hills rather than watch a bad-hair makeover. Only three men tune in Oprah for every 10 women who do." Of course more women watch Oprah. And citing James Webster from Northwestern University claiming that girls will play with boys' toys, but boys won't play with girls' toys— is Boal kidding? I can't begin to count the number of boys I know (some homosexual, some not) who played with Barbie dolls at a young age. Do homosexual males not count in this study? Boys love Barbie everywhere.

Boal makes women sound like couch potatoes and men like interesting characters who know how to focus. Thanks for the quotations from Jean Kilbourne and Susan Faludi— yet the tactic of throwing in a few random feminists to make your article seem thought-out and fair doesn't work.

Boal fuels the fires of ignorance on which our media feed. He fills this article with empty quotes and irrelevant statistics! Men vs. Women: Who watches more TV? Who doesn't? Who cares?

Michele Mason

Mark Boal's "Women Are Easy" was informative and well written. Yet I was struck by an assumption that seemed to be contrary to the point he was making about the ad industry.

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