Letters: August 25, 2009
The Tarantino furor
Re J. Hoberman's review of Inglourious Basterds ['Quentin's Final Solution!' August 19–25]: Like every other moviegoer, J. Hoberman is entitled to his enthusiasms, but I am puzzled when he says about Hitler that "the evil genius of the 20th century is already a joke everywhere." Is that true? One swallow does not make a summer, nor one Mel Brooks film/play a historical reality. If it is true, then we are indeed living in surrealistically dangerous times.
I wonder how many persons are laughing at the neo-Nazi/neo-fascist/skinhead cults that are not disappearing from our landscapes. Indeed, there is a publishing house in Virginia whose mission is to keep Mein Kampf in print. Some joke.
Then the reviewer refers to "the sandbox war that cost 50 million lives." To what does the adjective "sandbox" refer? To Tarantino's turning World War II into a child's playground? To the war itself?
Hoberman replies: Suggesting that Hitler was now widely seen as a ridiculous figure did not mean that everyone considers Hitler or Nazis a joke—I don't—but rather to put Tarantino's movie in the context of The Producers, Dani Levy's My Führer, and, especially, the German movie Downfall. (The notion of Hitler as an absurd villain can be found in Chaplin, Brecht, and much Anglo-American war propaganda.) By using the oxymoron "sandbox war," I meant to underscore Tarantino's childish sense of World War II—something stated more explicitly elsewhere in my review.
Re Roy Edroso's 'Barack Obama's Dastardly Plans,' [August 19–25]: Strange that the anti-reformists would express their alleged love of democracy by thuggishly disrupting town meetings in order that nothing be discussed rationally. Stranger still that one of the subjects of the article is one of those immigrants whom conservatives love to hate. I guess if you toe the party line, you're not told to go back to where you came from, freeloader!
Strangest yet that guaranteeing health care for all, like everyone else does, is somehow communist, socialist, fascist. Presumably, premature death and widespread suffering are hallmarks of a Jeffersonian democracy.
Let us remember that our leader is the most powerful person on the planet. He has put all his chips on getting a health care reform passed. It would be foolish to expect him to lose the biggest bet of his political career. Backroom pressures will get more than 60 senators to pass the bill.
Stop your wining
Re Graham Rayman's 'Sour Grapes' [August 12–18]: Actually, the liquor stores do have reason [to lobby against supermarket wine sales]. If you look at what has happened in England, you will see why. There, pubs are closing at an unprecedented rate even while boozed-up, feral teenagers stagger around town centers after dark, vomiting, urinating, and frightening everyone else. The reason? The giant supermarkets use alcohol as a loss-leader, selling it at below cost, which has decimated independent outlets.
Teens now sit at home getting blasted on cheap plonk, then head to the center of town to finish off. Is that what you really want? There is such a thing as the law of unexpected consequences, you know.
Lobbyists, shmobbyists—your article was the most sickening performance I have ever witnessed in the pages of a New York newspaper. If you have your way, the pace at which this once-lovely city continues to lose its small businesses, which used to give it its unique flavor and are dying by the day (mostly, of course, for other reasons), will only quicken.
Trader Joe's and Gristedes are doing fine without the needless slaughter you are advocating. You should all be ashamed.
Samuel E. Bartos
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