Letters to the editor

Readers concur: Orson Scott Card interview really WAS the worst Plus: Cintra speaks the truth about the sorry state of Hollywood movies; who are the culprits in airline disasters?

Published February 5, 2000 5:00PM (EST)

My favorite author, my worst interview

Donna Minkowitz got it so very wrong. Orson Scott Card is not Ender or
Bean or any of the other characters in his books. I am continually amazed
when people confuse authors, actors, or even comedians with the books they
write, or the characters they portray. When I worked in Silicon Valley, I
knew computer execs who couldn't, or just plain wouldn't, figure out how
to use a computer, and were perfectly happy to leave those tasks up to
their secretaries. Never confuse a product with its producer.
Minkowitz was truly the naive one in this equation. Why would you
expect an author to be just like you, or even hold the same views as you
simply because you admire his work?

--Deeanna Franklin

Rockville, Md.

Besides reading "Ender's Game" and "Ender's Shadow," did Donna Minkowitz
do any research before conducting her interview with Orson Scott Card?

I've read at least a half dozen of Card's books, plus
various reviews, columns and essays he's written. (It's worth noting that
"Ender's Game" is but the first book of a four-volume series, and that
"Ender's Shadow" isn't strictly a sequel. It recapitulates the first book,
but from a different point of view.) Although I don't agree with many of
his beliefs, none of Card's quotes in Minkowitz's article particularly
surprised me.

Card is both outspoken and prolific. Had Minkowitz taken the time to dig
further into his body of work, or even read a back issue of [science fiction magazine] Locus for an interview with him, she wouldn't have been so shocked and horrified
that he doesn't share her world view as a "Jewish lesbian radical."

Idolizing any fellow writer is a dangerous habit for a journalist. To get
up on your high horse when an author's personality doesn't jibe with your
willfully idealized vision of him or her strikes me as foolish in the

-- Michael Berry

Donna Minkowitz should be held up as an example in journalism schools -- a
bad example. Her interview with Orson Scott Card is all about herself.
While I realize that's partly the point, I find it self-indulgent and much
less entertaining than a serious talk with Card by a less prejudiced
writer would have been.

-- Sean Brodrick

I find it ironic that Minkowitz repeatedly accuses Card of the worst moral
deficiencies, all the while wishing that she could "blast Card into tiny
fragments whose DNA will never bother [her] again" and finishing up the
article by wishing him "a very lousy rest of his life." That's very
admirable coming from someone who proclaims that "the foundation of all
ethics, for me, is always whether something hurts anyone." The rhetoric
sounds very empty indeed after such a juvenile display of name-calling and

-- Paul Christian Glenn

Reading the
interview, I grieved along with the author for the loss of a hero. I never
respected any author as much as I did Orson Scott Card, and damn but it
hurt to find my ideals crushed. Kudos to Donna Minkowitz for sticking to
her guns, at least as much as possible.

-- Meera Bhat

Hollywood maggots eat dead ideas


I work for a film production company in Hollywood. I read Cintra Wilson's
column with glee and immediately walked into my boss's office. I
dropped the article on his desk and said, "This is exactly how I feel
about Hollywood."

He read half of the article and said, "What she doesn't seem to understand
is that it takes genius to make a movie like "The Best Years of Our
Lives." I said that's not the point, the point is that we should ASPIRE to
make movies like "Best Years." I told him to finish the article and left
for lunch feeling quite righteous.

When I came back an hour later there was the article with a note attached
which read, "Contact the writer, see if she writes screenplays."

-- Xander Maksik

Cintra Wilson's rage-filled article about what's wrong with contemporary
Hollywood made my day. She is absolutely right! A couple of years ago I
attended the Maui Writer's Conference, a gathering of Tinseltown
players and hordes of
desperate, wannabe writers hoping to make a contact and sell their
screenplay. At least once in every panel discussion, some poor sap would
ask pleadingly: "What kind of stories is Hollywood looking for?" And some
Hollywood smugmeister would say -- with the placid
"Don't-you-wish-you-were-me" mien of the truly self-satisfied, and the
cold, dead eyes of a serial killer -- "What we're all looking for are good
stories. Plain and simple. Just good stories." There was so much bullshit
coming out of these people's mouths, even the tradewinds couldn't blow it

-- Noble Smith

While I respect Cintra Wilson's longing for better movies, I think she is
pointing the finger of blame in the wrong direction. The audiences vote
for the kind of movies we get.

Hollywood won't start making "quality" until people line up
and pay for it. We can't blame the "elites" for foisting crap on the
public when that same public -- those people all around you drinking Coors
Lite and watching "Baywatch" -- is
screaming for more.

-- Harry Connolly

Cintra's complaint isn't really about the movies. It is about the
realization that art -- good art of any kind -- cannot be produced by the
bucketful to fill every hour of the day and night. In current American
society, with its ever-hungry need for "entertainment," the demand for
product simply outstretches the supply.

Cintra's column is really about making choices about your emotional needs.
Hollywood cannot make these choices for you. It is an impersonal factory of film. How the films relate to you is up to
you and the choices that you make. Perhaps we should remember that
Hollywood only puts the entertainment in front of you, it doesn't force
you to feed on it unless you let it.

-- Daniel Loebl

Do airlines ever cut corners on maintenance?

How often is anyone held liable for the catastrophe that ensues from lack of judgment? Whether it's a mechanic OK'ing a faulty part or
someone at the FAA writing lax standards, there should be accountability. Travel might be less risky if
everyone associated with the safe passage of an aircraft knew his
negligence would be prosecuted.

-- Kevin Tudish

All engineering and maintenance involves some tradeoffs in economics. Probabilities of
failure always exist. The idea is to reduce that probability of failure to
an acceptable risk, and do so at a cost that allows you to continue in

There's nothing wrong with choosing condition monitoring versus
invasive inspection; indeed, condition monitoring is more effective in
reducing the possibility of catastrophic error. Reliability is reduced any
time you take equipment apart, maintain it or replace components. Have you
noticed your car sometimes breaks down right after you took it in for
repairs? It's not because your mechanic is an idiot, it's because every
turn of the wrench introduces new possibilities of error.

It's therefore perhaps not surprising that the downed airplane just went
through an in-depth, invasive inspection. It was more likely right after
in-depth maintenance than at practically any other time.

-- Bill Hatton

Won't it be quite a shame if it is discovered that the Alaska Airlines
tragedy could have been prevented by a healthy shot of WD-40 on the
horizontal stabilizer hinge?

-- Charles Stanford

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