Letter Of The Week

Overserved, underfed

Re "Not a Pretty Picture" [Press Clips, May 18-24]: Sydney H. Schanberg's point has been running through my head from the beginning of this whole fiasco. Every day we see the numbers and reports of deaths. Yet in this day of information and image overload, none of the nation's major news outlets are making real to the American public what is happening in Iraq through serious and well-considered photographic and video images. I really wonder how well the incredibly spurious justifications for the war would hold up in the face of such visceral public knowledge. If the United States is a democracy, we are all responsible for what we are doing in Iraq. We daily abnegate that responsibility when we turn away from the reality of the carnage and pretend that we are respecting the dead.

Tim Kantz
Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

Primary reasons

From his review of Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of the Sith ["May the Force Be Over," May 18-24], I gather that Ed Halter had a terrible childhood. His drivel proves he is nothing short of a contemptuous ass imposing his opinion on those who would dare to read it. "Escapist entertainment" is as valid a form of entertainment as any other. Not everything has to be socially redeeming, pertinent, or even challenging. Halter is a shining example of what becomes of those little boys you knew in primary school that no one listened to.

Robert Lewis
Jacksonville, Alabama

How do you really feel?

May Ed Halter burn in the endless pits of hell! How dare he criticize the work of a genius! Halter has no comprehension of Lucas's ability to tell a rather complex, not to mention interesting and inspirational, epic. Halter is a criticizing bore who can't tell the difference between a great work of art and a Cracker Jack prize. He reeks of putrid pestilence!

Hiram Rodriguez
Laredo, Texas

'Nam-inal point

Halter states that the "messy asymmetry of 21st-century warfare has no place in Lucas's retro future." Actually, the first three Star Wars movies were about that very subject, and were obviously inspired by U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

Brady Wahl
Cardington, Ohio

They'll stone ya

I take it that Ed Halter doesn't care for the Star Wars films. I can handle that. I can even handle his bloodthirsty dislike for Lucas and the scripts of the two previous movies. Clearly he should have written them—his saber-like style of overly describing his feelings is truly masterful. But his review was laced with more bias than necessary. Maybe jealousy was the catalyst that sparked his rage? No, he is too vain for that. In any event, the first line of his article is really the only reason I'll acknowledge Halter at all: "No doubt the most expensive stoner film in history." Please do not insult those of us with the ability to use our imaginations by assuming we take drugs. Did he mean it literally? I'm sure that he didn't, but surely The Village Voice can do much better than that.

Scott Smith, a 'baroque nerd'
Hot Springs, Arkansas

What's that smell?

I realize that to the progressive soldiers in our current culture war, the prospect of a wildly popular modern myth that preaches to current and future generations the dangers of the "dark side" emits a particular odor. But what reality does Halter live in where the dark side isn't a seduction that can (gradually) consume one's destiny? I'm 37 and I've seen it happen more times than I want to think about. I think Star Wars is a splendid lesson for our children.

Eric Olson
Park Slope

Think of the kids

Is it absolutely necessary for Halter to write so negatively about a film that kids adore? How long does the reader have to put up with bitter, angry critics who crap on anything that didn't come out of their mouths? Tedious. I will contribute $200 for Halter to get a colonic or perhaps a series of colonics. Bitter and angry is not progressive.

Jay Servidio
New Canaan, Connecticut

Seen the future baby

Bravo to Michael Feingold! His article ["Now Plus 50," May 18-24]—ostensibly on theater but really about our society and what will come—says everything that needs to be said, heard, and acted upon. Feingold's work over the last few years has been a constant joy to me. Incredibly well educated on theatrical history, politically astute, aware of the problems but not cowed by them: With every new article, he shows himself to be one of the few critics worth reading in this country.  

Brian Drake
Upper West Side

The ugly truth

Sydney H. Schanberg's article moved me to tears [Press Clips, "Not a Pretty Picture," May 18-24]. I have often wondered why our press seems less and less involved in what is going on in Iraq. "The runaway bride" is the front-page story while children and families are dying daily. I am enraged and disheartened by our press, which is supposed to serve as the public's front line in what is going on in the world. It is supposed to inform us and show us, objectively, the truth in all its ugliness so that we can see the consequences of war and be able to sympathize with those that are fighting this war and those that are living within its constraints and brutality.

Jenina Rodriguez
Middle Village, Queens

Aspects of the war

I agree that the press mustn't shrink from showing war casualties. But I find it odd that Schanberg offers only a passing mention of suicide bombers and other "insurgents" who are committing much of the slaughter in Iraq.

All except one of the photos you chose to run are of casualties caused by American troops. No doubt, we should see them. But for all Schanberg's talk of press openness, it seems there are aspects of this war that he, and the Voice, would rather not face up to.

David Adler
Upper West Side

Dream on

You reminded me of two important things: (1) The war in Iraq is far from won and far from pretty, and (2) The Village Voice is still capable of printing shockingly relevant news and photos. While reading Schanberg's report, I imagined the mounting outcry should photos like David Leeson's appear every day in every newspaper in America. I am, alas, a dreamer.

Dawn Shurmaitis
Harvey's Lake, Pennsylvania

Lives they had

This was one of the best articles I have read about the war and a wonderful refutation of John Tierney's suggestion in The New York Times that there be less coverage. Like Schanberg I served in a war and it was not pretty. Most of my high school classmates, all 17- or 18-year-old volunteers like me, were killed on Iwo Jima or in the Battle of the Bulge. There is not sufficient news coverage of the wounded, whose normal lives are gone forever. Meanwhile, "collateral damage" covers the thousands of civilians bombed or machine-gunned.

John McNiff
Plantation, Florida

Looking for love in all . . .

James Ridgeway's item on the conversation between Fox radio host Alan Colmes and anti-abortion extremist Neal Horsley [Mondo Washington, May 18-24] had me roaring with laughter because it refreshed memories of my own youth growing up in Georgia. I was approximately nine years old, on the way to the small food store a half-mile away. A shortcut took me through a cow pasture and it wasn't more than half a football field's distance away that I spotted two brothers from the finest churchgoing family in the area. One boy held the cow with a rope around her neck while the other stood on a block of wood and made strange back-and-forth movements at the cow's rear. I was as ignorant as a brick at the time and had no idea what they were doing. Suddenly, the boy in action began cursing, jumped down off his block, and started beating the animal with a branch he'd picked up. I moved a bit closer and saw that he was covered with cow dung. The following day they were in church, singing angelically with the choir. There are hypocrites and there are hypocrites. Horsley tops the list.

Sylvia Barksdale
Lynnfield, Massachusetts


Katie Pearl, identified in Elizabeth Zimmer's Obie report [May 18-24] as being "a fairly recent arrival from Seattle," graduated from the University of Washington in 1995, but she then spent years in Austin, Texas, and has lived in New York City since 2000.

The photo of Dirty Martini by Josh Gosfield that appeared on page 15 of last week's issue was taken at Simone Martini Bar & Café in the East Village.

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