Letters for the week of March 3-9, 2004 

Comments on gender and racial biases; and a plethora of reactions to Malcolm Gay's article about queer theologians.

"Japanese Story," Movies A to Z, 2/4

Weinkauf's Gender Bias
I'm writing to express my disgust over one of your movie reviewers' blatantly sexist and uneducated style of writing. After being shocked by Gregory Weinkauf's review of Japanese Story, I studied his other reviews to find a startling pattern emerging. Most movies reviewed by G.W. seem to be more likely to garner a favorable review if they star a hot woman.

While he trips over himself to find enough disparaging terms to describe the females responsible for writing, directing, and scoring Japanese Story, he refers to the female character in Gloomy Sunday simply as "a pair of boobies" or just simply "the boobies." He loved the "sultry" and "sensuous" women in Secret Things even though he's willing to admit the script was probably conceived in a locker room. Yet, with his closing statement that the film is "like getting absurd male fantasies and sly female strategies in one hot dose," he assures us that he's more than happy to spend an inordinate amount of time in locker rooms.

The only things he can think to say about Toni Collette in Japanese Story is that she is "not-so-pretty" and the victim of several "unflattering" camera angles. Even with all this, however, I wouldn't have taken the time to write. But G.W. reaches new heights of vileness when he says that the characters "skirt the edge of retardation" and, worse yet, that the movie exists not to be "enjoyed or appreciated so much as to be coddled and patronized as one would a retarded child." It's disgusting and inhumane to say you would "coddle and patronize" a "retarded" child. Anyone with an ounce of knowledge on the subject knows that the main focus of modern day care and treatment of such individuals focuses on raising each one up to the highest level he or she can achieve, so that he or she might be able to enjoy life as any other human being. I hope someone at your paper understands how insensitive and immature this review -- and I have to assume this reviewer -- is and encourages him to overcome this handicap and strive to find some real things to talk about in future reviews.
Andrea Hart, Berkeley

"Class struggle," Bottom Feeder, 1/21

RE: Your one-sided rant
Mr. Harper's inability to find little positive in Oakland's School of Social Justice displayed an obvious bias. I was appalled at his lack of journalistic integrity. The examples of problems at the school Mr. Harper cited were devoid of any context. Not a mention was made of what it means to an alternative school in southeast Oakland, let alone a school in Oakland, California, or any other money-deprived metropolis. The challenges our communities of color face in this "starve the beast" age, whereby budget cuts are the answer to failing schools, and increases in prison spending are the answer to our troubled communities, were not once entertained by Mr. Harper.

To call the line written by Mr. Harper: "Sanctimonious minorities who want to use taxpayer dollars to run a Maoist re-education camp disguised as a high school," offensive would be a gross understatement. To equate that line to the language used on the school's Web site is also offensive and absurd. A constructive critique would be welcome, but this kind of one-sided rant serves no purpose.

The school was established to help create a template to resist the very bias Mr. Harper reflects. Maybe this is what upset Mr. Harper. I can only speculate. I am disappointed with the Express for running this offensive drivel.
Karl MacRae, Oakland

"Outing The Bible," Feature, 2/11

Seeing What They Want
Malcolm Gay's article on the new queer theologians was a more balanced piece than I would have expected from the East Bay Express. Cheers to him for including the views of sympathetic critics and not relying solely on stereotypical "conservatives" as easy foils. A few comments:

As a student at the Graduate Theological Union, I can assure you that what goes on here is not proof that Christianity is changing. New forms of it are perhaps being created (as has been happening since the earliest centuries), but Christianity is not going to be changed by queer theologians. Berkeley seems always to need reminding that it's not the center of the universe.

Jay Johnson typifies the arrogance of these so-called theologians. He takes it for granted that the only conclusion a thinking, reflective, intelligent, educated person can reach on these matters is the gospel according to queer theology. It mystifies him that "in the 21st century intelligent people still have these arguments" over queer interpretations of Scripture. But perhaps it doesn't take a Ph.D to see these interpretations for what they are: shallow, irrational, highly politicized and sexualized distortions having nothing at all to do with Christ. Is it open and tolerant to imply that those who reach conclusions different from Johnson's are ignorant, homophobic, sexually-repressed buffoons? That doesn't sound like dialogue, but then the article makes it clear that these folks are no longer interested in dialogue.


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