BY JOYCE MILLMAN
I have watched a couple of episodes of "The Practice" and even
fewer of "Ally McBeal" (it took a lot less time to figure out I hated that
show), and I just don't see what the fuss is about. In fact, I don't merely
think these shows are not very good; sometimes I find myself hating them. And
then I wonder -- why?
Interestingly, I was a fan of "Picket Fences," perhaps mostly
because I enjoyed Don Cheadle, Fyvush Finkel and Ray Walston.
But at least that show didn't seem as silly as the
others. I know, one character spontaneously combusted, but it seemed to
"fit" the show -- and at least it wasn't insulting or degrading to women or any
I've even tried to let my hometown biases sway me, being from
Boston, but it is still no use. I still find myself begrudging the success of
these shows. It is as if Kelley can't write a straight drama that can force
people to pay attention -- like "Law & Order" or "Homicide." Instead, he seems
to think we have such short attention spans that we need a good cat fight or
titillating plot twist so that we can watch, slack-jawed, like Cage and Fish. Give us a little more credit.
-- John Flaherty
Buena Park, Calif.
It is a little tiring to hear so many people come out against David E. Kelley now
that he has won so many Emmys. Just last year, he was the darling of every
critic in the business. It just goes to show how people love to hate a
winner. I'm almost glad that "The Sopranos" didn't win; it would only end
up being fodder for bitter critics next year if it had. It's easy to get
on the Kelley bashing bandwagon, but it is also rather tacky.
-- Michelle Butler
As David Kelley would probably tell you, a crucial aspect of being a
lawyer is the ability to build a strong and coherent argument. If
Joyce Millman could explain why this award-winning writer was overrated,
beyond her unreasonable emotional arguments, perhaps I would not object
-- Brad Webber
I couldn't agree more with Millman's assessment of David Kelley's work.
I am a 38-year-old married mom of two teens, and I am so sick of the TV
cat fights and the portrayals of women whose main preoccupation is lusting after men. Work always seems to
come a distant second. When "Ally McBeal" started a few years ago, the
buzz around my office compelled me to take a look. I thought it became a
parody of itself quickly.
Ally is a mess. I know she is only a
character, but the show sends a stupid message about women and their
abilities to think/manage their lives.
-- Patti Braidwood
BY SEAN ELDER
Matt Drudge is not a kind of cyber-Winchell. Rather, he is equal parts
loudmouthed high school sophomore and mean-spirited busybody, a regressed
adolescent who has exploited the right-wing crankocracy to cash in. The fact that a dope such as
Drudge can be taken seriously by any media outlet, even Fox News (managed by GOP ideologue
Roger Ailes), is indeed a sad testament to the degenerate state of modern journalism.
-- Gary Garland
Yorba Linda, Calif.
How the Rodham girl lost her accent
BY SUZI PARKER
Bravo for finally writing about Madame Hillary's dissing of her
former "home state." This is the woman who told her friends the reason why
the media and the Washington press were against the Clintons was because
they were from Arkansas. Yet if you believe the stories the Arkansas
troopers told, Hillary hated anything with a Southern accent; the few
times I've heard Chelsea speak there wasn't a trace of one either.
Hillary Rodham Clinton never wanted to spend the rest of her life in
Arkansas. She only moved there because Bill was running for Congress; had
he won they would not have spent much time in Arkansas. It is time for the
Hillaristas -- who stand by her no matter what -- to wake up.
There is nothing authentic nor honest about her. Perhaps
she and the Horndog-in-Chief are the perfect match for each other after all.
-- R.L. Gadsden
Who harassed whom?
BY SUSAN CRABTREE
Whatever the truth of the Niedermeier/Baucus relationship, Niedermeier
will end up a loser. First of all, power prevails (and absolute power
prevails absolutely): A boss has a tremendous advantage over an
underling; when the boss is a U. S. senator, the power disparity
obviously increases astronomically.
Second, Baucus' troops are circling Niedermeier's wagon. He has a
former aide "explaining" the harassing behavior as "friendly gestures,"
similar to ones Baucus offered the male aide. He has his senatorial
chums, especially the female chums, attesting to his integrity.
Third, Niedermeier probably doesn't have a case. She apparently did not
complain long enough or loudly enough to make it clear to Baucus that
his supposed advances were unwanted. Even the crudest advances do not
constitute harassment if they are welcomed. She apparently doesn't have any
witnesses who will corroborate her story. This doesn't mean her story
is untrue; her former colleagues have an obvious incentive to back up
the boss's version. And Baucus may have been discreet.
Finally, Niedermeier was an experienced political operative, hired for
her toughness -- a person who would be expected to be able to
handle such advances, not a youthful shrinking violet who might be
overwhelmed by the behavior.
Niedermeier is finding out what millions of women have found before
her. Those appalling senators who grilled Anita Hill couldn't understand why she
would stay in contact with Clarence Thomas. Women understood very
well: a) because he was the boss and he could ruin her career; and b)
because no matter what the boss does, he'll probably get away with it.
-- Marie O'Beirne
All hail the queen
BY CAROLINE SOMMERS
TV producer Caroline Sommers tells us that making talk shows is worse
than watching them. Here's an idea: Stop making them. Go do something else.
Starve, like an artist, or sacrifice, like a teacher.
Sommers had some reservations about doing the Queen Latifah talk show. She'd
done better shows in the past, on A&E, no less. But the Queen Latifah show
was for more money. Well, no need to think anymore. What in other ages
settled arguments -- "God willed it" -- America has supplanted with money.
Well, some of us aren't buying the "money" excuse anymore. The parents who
tried to ban the media at Columbine High School, and the people who said
the Jenny Jones show was culpable in the murder
of guest Scott Amedure, are people troubled by the depraved content
that the American entertainment industry forces our culture to accept. Issues of
public concern are mined for sordidness and shock or repeated ad infinitum.
Tolerance appears to be a mere ruse to get us to shut up as
another vacuous generation is created for the profits of those who make
American entertainment. The dark joke is no longer "Kill your television,"
but "Kill the people in your television."
-- Thomas J. Nochera Jr.
Welcome to the Mile-High Club
BY ELLIOTT NEAL HESTER
I am sickened to the point of nausea. The
health implications alone of such lewd behavior aboard what the airlines
would have us believe are "friendly" skies are enough to make me never want
to board a plane again, let alone shake the hand of a welcoming attendant.
Who can guarantee the sanitation of seat covers, toilet seats, pillows and
blankets? In an age where
communicable diseases are on the rise, and health officials are stepping in
to trace "outbreaks" to online chat rooms, the airlines may well want to
revisit their policy of turning the other cheek.
-- Mary Kay Kirn
If I am ever subjected to anyone partaking in sexual exercises while I
am confined to close quarters on an airplane, I will personally make it
my mission to embarrass the offenders with all of my lung power and as
many fingers as I can point at once. It's bad enough having to put up
with randy apartment neighbors and multimedia peeping toms; now we
are assailed with private business when we are most vulnerable. Gross.
-- Karen Cameron Boyden
My Jewish roots in Germany
BY ROBERT L. STRAUSS
I am glad that Robert Strauss is sharing his poignant story of searching
for his Jewish ancestry in a small town in Germany. And I am equally
glad that his visit there dispelled his notion that there are skinheads
"lurking around every corner" in Germany. I married into a German
family four years ago and as a result have become sensitive to the
prejudice many people feel toward Germans.
Six million Jews and 5 million others (including my husband's
Christian great-grandfather) perished in the Holocaust. It was heinous
and disgusting and we should never forget it. But for today's Jews to
assume that all Germans are evil Nazis only propagates the cycle of
hate. Skinheads and other racists and hate-mongers do still lurk in
Germany (although not "around every corner"), as they do throughout
Europe, America, Asia and so on. Sadly, hate knows no boundaries. But
if every person today -- Jewish, Christian, Muslim, black, white,
etc. -- can recognize that there are good, loving, peaceful people in the
world and can approach life in the same manner, together we can work to
overcome the terrible hate that is pervading so many societies.
-- Jennifer Pitzi Hellwig
What Robert Strauss may not know about the woman
who helped him so greatly in Themar is that it is a miracle that she herself is
alive to talk to him and remember. As a polio victim, she would have been
considered a "useless eater," and should have been among the
100,000 handicapped Germans slaughtered by the Nazi regime.
I don't know who protected her all those many years ago. But whoever did not
hand her over to be "euthanized" deserves the same thanks Strauss gives her for
being there to tell him about his family.
We can only pray that such senseless, irrational murders never again darken
our hearts and blacken our skies.
-- Ruth Hanna