LETTER OF THE WEEK
The butch is back
Oops, you published the 25th annual Queer Issue of the Voice [June 23-29] and forgot to include anything about queer women! Did you think the genderqueer article would cover it? That would be kind of disrespectful to the way genderqueers identify themselves, wouldn't it?
My butch identity is not an anachronism, nor is it a primitive stage on the way to a more radical genderqueer-ness. It is who I am, always have been, and probably always will be. It does us all a disservice to be dismissive of trans identities that include passing, to be dismissive of butches as history, to be dismissive of any form of gender expression. Isn't inclusion what gender liberation is all about?
I enjoyed Richard Goldstein's "Mauling Moore" [Press Clips, June 30-July 6], on the network media's coverage of Michael Moore and Fahrenheit 9/11, particularly the dissection of their conflating Moore's slant with factual information in the movie. It's important to recognize the ways in which the major media outlets frame the debate in an obviously slanted way under the guise of objectivity.
I'd like to put forward a different theory regarding the motives for these takedowns. While there's no doubt that corporate ownership has a significant and pervasive effect on media, I think it's a stretch to imply that GE's defense contracts or Disney's need for the "kindness" of federal regulators is at work in these kinds of situations. There's very little, if any, evidence that shows journalists go after their subjects at the behest of their corporate masters for the sake of the larger bottom line.
They do, however, protect their turf with nearly unmatched ferocity. I think it's more likely that they went at Moore because of his vocal and persistent critique of what he sees as their passivity in the face of the Bush administration's claims about weapons of mass destruction and the justifications for war. Katie Couric seemed especially defensive with Moore during her Today interview of June 21. In it, you'll see a journalist scorned, knives out for the attack. I think it's reasonable to suppose that the criticism is much closer to revenge than some kind of conspiracy of corporate overlords.
Once again, the media duck when faced with the evidence of their own ineptitude. Goldstein would have us believe that they were only giving the public what it wanted.
During the lead-up to the Iraq war, the public was fed the administration line, almost unfiltered by any media analysis. If the public reaction was one of acceptance, then it was the job of the media to point out that the administration's data was highly questionable. That would have been the appropriate feedback for the fourth estate, charged with keeping a check on government power in a functioning democracy.
Rochester, New York
Ohio Loves Indiana
Re Gary Indiana's "Wonder When You'll Miss Me" [June 30-July 6]:
I greatly enjoyed Gary Indiana's outstanding defense of Bill Clinton and his book. It is a masterful analysis of decency versus viciousness, intelligence and intellect versus idiocy and xenophobic hate-mongering, and responsibility and common sense versus rampant greed and unlimited violence.
Monish R. Chatterjee
It's no 'Ulysses'
I enjoyed Gary Indiana's review of the Clinton bio-epic. I agree with his formulations. Two comments, however. First, Ulysses Grant's two-volume set was written years after his war and office experiences, when he had the wisdom and judgment of some hindsight. Grant did not have a tin ear. The failure of Bill's book is too much political graciousness and too little time to steep. Second, Grant was single-minded when he wrote his book. Bill has been doing this and that; the book suffers.
Elizabeth Cline's "Transmale Nation" [the Queer Issue, June 23-29] is right on with my feelings. Gender is as flexible as human beings want to make it. There is no such thing as only two genders.
I am a kind of gender anomaly. I am a heterosexual, biologically female woman who has always been masculine. I still identify as masculine, but more because of upbringing and experience than by choice. It's just who I am. However, as a radical feminist, I can see the danger of identifying too much with masculinity and maleness, as if these characteristics are the only ideal traits to have. At the same time, I feel that "femininity," whatever that is, has been forced down the throats of all women, gay and straight, to keep us in line with patriarchy. Negotiating these two realities is always a challenge.
Thank you for publishing such a complex and thought-provoking article.
Yolanda M. Carrington
Raleigh, North Carolina
Labels for Less
This article is a great start in describing the new deconstruction of gender and sexual orientation. The reality is that we end up in love and attracted to the person, forget about labels. So what if we modify our bodies and choose our clothes to be happy? Sex has no gender.
Christopher Stahl's "I Ruck Therefore I Am" [the Queer Issue, June 23-29] was excellent. I played rugby as an undergrad at Michigan State. As a gay man, I have read probably about a half-dozen rugby articles in the gay rags. This one is easily the best. Stahl got the tone and the feel of rugby right, and he wrote in a way that non-ruggers can begin to understand what rugby is all about.
November Spawns a Monster
Re Sydney H. Schanberg's "Bush's 9-11 Problem" [June 23-29]:
Schanberg states that the voters will determine the fate of the duplicitous Bush presidency in November. The question is how many will bother to actually exercise their democratic right to cast a ballot. Those most readily dismissed by the Bush crowd are, unfortunately, the least likely to vote. Let us trust that those who do bother to vote have the wisdom to see through the mendacity and ruthlessness of this most atrocious administration.
Re Jennifer Gonnerman's "A Question of Justice" [June 30-July 6]:
The Rockefeller laws are undoubtedly unjust, extreme, brutal, and in need of big-time tweaking. It is perhaps unfair that the two Caucasians were given relatively light sentences. However, Ashley O'Donoghue is no martyr or victim. Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.
Nathan F. Weiner
Morris Heights, Bronx
Check Your Head
Re Jon Caramanica's "Stupid White Men" [June 30-July 6]:
You obviously don't get the Beastie Boys and probably never have. If they are so bad, how come they are one of the most enduring, inspiring bands of our time? It is because they don't care about what narrow-minded critics say, and because they stick with what they like, not what you like. Sorry it isn't bling-bling ghetto rap. That music is as uncreative and shallow as the artists who make it. Perhaps your article indicates precisely who the stupid white man is.
Re Jason Gross's "Three Out of Five Kickers of Ancient Jams Back in the U.S.A." [June 23-29]:
By what criteria does Jason Gross make the assessment that Rob Tyner was "a fair singer"? More puzzling, how does he conclude that Evan Dando was among the rotating cast onstage with the MC5 that "didn't have much trouble filling in" for such a powerful, soulful vocalist? Does Gross know anything about music? Did he notice Evan Dando's voice cracking, numerous missed notes, lack of time, and forgotten lyrics? Did he notice the steady stream of jeering from the audience at the Bowery every time Dando took the stage to mangle yet another song? It should have been patently obvious to even those only vaguely familiar with the music of the MC5, or even music in general, that Dando was perhaps the most unqualified "performer" to fill the very formidable shoes of the late and truly great Tyner.
True, Mark Arm performed well, and Handsome Dick did steal the show (too bad he only sang two songs). But not noting the egregious performance of Evan Dando makes one wonder if Jason Gross attended the show at all.
Jason Gross replies: I know enough about music to say again that Tyner was not a great singer. He was a great frontman, but that's not necessarily the same thing as being a superior vocalist. If Joe had bothered to read the rest of my article, he would have known that I said that Dando only sounded like he belonged there when he sang a ballad. And yes, I was thereI helped up Arm when he collapsed on the floor with three dancing partners right in front of me and figured that it wouldn't compromise my journalistic integrity.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.