Letters for the week of August 4-10, 2004 

Don't be dissing Rush, pal. Big Media fears freedom, failed on Iraq, and goes too easy on Bush — and we're apathetic.

"Head Trip," Film, 7/14

Metallica would be pissed
You state in your review that Hetfield makes the "squillions of dollars" comment, but I'm pretty sure it was actually Newsted who says it.
Rahul Kamath, Albany

"Just Like Hendrix?" Music, 7/7

Music unites; marketing divides
I am a 33-year-old professional musician, and as a teenager I listened to a lot of Rush and Hendrix. I also listened to as many other examples of well-played and -composed music of every genre I could access. Most good musicians and people who enjoy culture check out a lot of different music. Marketers are the people who endlessly subdivide and categorize.
Jamal Millner, Charlottesville, Virginia

Bringing the funk since 1980
I just wanted Mr. Lindsay to know that Rush is not funkless. In fact, Geddy Lee's style on bass has gotten extremely funky and the band has songs that have an actual groove. Try "Red Lenses" from 1984's Grace Under Pressure or "Scars" from the 1990 album Presto. If that does not work, I suggest "Territories" from 1986's Power Windows.

I have been getting a kick out of writers' misinformed opinions of Rush for twenty years now. Most of the criticisms leveled at the band are hilariously outdated, to say the least. Rush has not been doing their '70s-style pomp-rock for years even though dumb writers still say they do. Once and for all, it's time for the press to wake up -- Rush has been a quality pop band since 1980. If only the unfair press would actually listen before they spoke. Thank you for your time. P.S. Note the title of the new EP -- "Feedback."
Matthew Shannon, Saratoga Springs, New York

"Rethinking the Media Monopoly," Feature, 7/7

And now, a brief respite from our reporting on morticians and sex therapy
Will Harper's story on media monopolies got one thing right. We are not completely helpless against the five or six companies that control most of what we see, hear, and read. We have the Internet to do things like release the pictures of tortured Iraqi prisoners, which would have been done by mainstream media during the Vietnam war. The big media are terrified of this freedom, which is why they are making so many clumsy and unsuccessful attempts to suppress other voices.

CBS tries to suppress the MoveOn.org Super Bowl ad, and generates publicity for it. Disney tries to suppress Fahrenheit 9/11, and helps to make it the biggest-selling documentary of all time. And now, as a pathetic footnote to these blunders, we have one of our two cloned McUnderground papers trying to convince us that media monopolies do not reduce diversity. (I hope I sent this to the right paper. I've never been able to tell them apart.) It was even more pathetically transparent to include in the same issue Chris Thompson's scattershot attack ("they all suck") on the liberal books that print the truth ignored by the journalistic media.

Did the front office in Arizona request this whitewash job from Harper, or did his survival instinct make him realize that he could pay his rent this month if he gave you what you wanted? Sometimes the difference between rape and prostitution is not that significant when the need for money is great enough.

I suppose I should point out some of the many non sequiturs in this article that attempt to masquerade as arguments. The fact that we have more channels and newspapers to choose from doesn't give freedom of expression when they're all saying the same thing and are controlled by the same companies. Calling torture by its true name on a comedy show, and refusing to do so on a news show, trivializes the accusation. The fact that all other aspects of American commerce are controlled by a few big companies doesn't justify the media monopolies. It makes the problem worse. And a couple of papers that became slightly more liberal once they were taken over by media conglomerates doesn't erase the homogenization that happens everywhere else. But we don't need to read statistics to see what has happened. We remember what the SF Weekly and the East Bay Express were like before they had the life cloned out of them. And no DJ claiming that there's now more variety on the radio can stop us from hearing the blandness of modern commercial radio.

If you guys want to survive in this capitalistic society, you'd better take a good look at what people are buying now. Those liberal best-sellers, and the huge success of Fahrenheit 9/11, show that there is a tremendous hunger for the investigative reporting that you now only include in token amounts between your tabloid screeds on sex therapy and morticians. If you don't want to be eaten alive by Knight-Ridder in a bankruptcy sale, you had better start delivering what the underground public wants. Calling a dead conservative president a fascist is not enough to give you street credibility in Berkeley when you won't do any serious investigation of a live one.
Teed Rockwell, Berkeley

Conflicts of interest
Has shrinking ownership of mass media outlets really limited our choices? No. It seems the right to freedom of expression is still largely intact, and people are still free to publish or say what they want -- and we are all free to dig deep to find it. However, does this mean this expression will be heard? Unlikely at best. The media that most Americans glean their information from is the media that is most readily available, as most Americans are too busy working their asses off and living busy lives to muck about for independent news outlets. Thus they go for the stuff that saturates the market, the stuff that is mass-produced, cheap, and familiar. This is the media which helps formulate public opinion, and it is the media with the most $$ behind it.


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