Letters to the editor

Cintra chews up the Oscars Plus: Should Elian stay or should he go? What's become of Joni Mitchell?

Published March 29, 2000 5:00PM (EST)


Due to a typographical error, Salon's story The Conversation stated that a woman is raped in America every two seconds. The correct figure is every two minutes. Salon regrets the error. The story has been corrected.

Oscars 2000


If Cintra Wilson could stop choking on her spleen for three minutes, she might have been able to shed some light on why this year's Oscars, garish light and all, sent a clear signal that not only is this awards thing over, but the industry it's celebrating is on its last legs. Never has Hollywood looked so tacky, so barrenly nostalgic, so de trop. Wilson needs to get over the fact she is not herself a cause cilhbre. She might then actually find interesting stuff to talk about.

-- Tom Matrullo

Cintra Wilson complained that Penilope Cruz and Antonio Banderas were basically token Latin stars brought in to celebrate the win of another Latin winner. Had she dug a little deeper into the careers of Banderas and Cruz, she would have realized that both actors have close connections to Almodovar. Banderas actually made the best movies of his career with Almodovar, and Cruz appeared in "All About My Mother," the film Almodovar won for. Almodovar's film was basically a lock for best foreign film, and having Cruz and Banderas as presenters made sense, even more sense than the Sophia Loren/Roberto Benigni pairing last year.

I'll give her the gratuitous reaction shot of Gloria Estefan, though.

-- Katy Demcak

The "minority reaction shot" is insulting. Does the director assume that when Pedro Almodovar wins an award I immediately wonder how the other Spanish-surname attendees feel?
And what was the deal with cutting to Latinos during Chow Yun-Fat's presentation? Had Lucy Liu gone home already?

-- Douglas Tonks

Just a note to say that Cintra Wilson's Oscar evaluation will keep me laughing for many weeks. She nailed every perverse, strange quirk of the whole event. I wish she'd taken a swipe at the grotesquerie that is the Riverses pre-game "fashion" review. Perhaps that would have been too much guffaw to take in one article; perhaps she'll write a follow-up?

I'd like to say I only marginally tuned in, or was paid to watch, but I sat through the entire five-hour ordeal. The world may not be coming to an end; it only seems like it when you subject yourself to this kind of bearing witness. Thank God for Cintra Wilson's ability to make all us gawkers feel a little less hollow for having tuned in.

-- Sue Roberts


Denzel Washington has been robbed -- again. Kevin Spacey is a fine actor, but the best performance this movie year was given by Washington in "The Hurricane." I wonder if the Washington Post's unfair criticism movie influenced academy voters. If so, the Post is hypocritical for panning "The Hurricane" for stretching the truth in spots. After all, how many true-to-life movies render the facts faithfully? Did the "Post" pan "Boys Don't Cry," another movie that takes liberties with the facts? I will not label the academy's action racist, but putrescence smells even if no one says so.

-- A.S. Perkins

Why Elian should stay in the U.S.



What a beautiful article by Cathy Young. She hits the nail right on the head by pointing out to apologists for communist regimes that hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of average people like herself in fact participated in a global referendum on communism by voting with their feet. They voted no to their dreary regimes and voted yes for the life of the West. Elian's mother was one of these people.

I myself have had occasion to spend time on a collective farm in Ukraine as the USSR was collapsing. I can honestly tell you that in all my travels to a variety of Third World countries, I have never seen an existence so boring, banal, lifeless and hopeless. It really was (and still is, because many post-Soviet countries have yet to truly reform the ownership of land) slavery. Yes, slavery -- that is really the word which best described the situation of those poor, hopleless people.

It is this feeling of hopelessness, resignation and powerlessness among a sizable proportion of a population that leftist apologists for regimes like Castro's have never understood. Hopelessness and powerlessness are qualities which are not plain for the eye to see, like malnutrition or lack of dental care. But they destroy the spirit, and I'll bet Elians's mother understood this very well.

-- Victor Chudowsky

Cathy Young never touches on the most important issues in the Elian case, and fails to answer these charges:

A) There are literally millions of people who want asylum in this country. Thousands of them try to do so legally and do not get that chance. Why should Elian get it illegally?

B) Our courts should have NO say in what happens to this boy. Neither this boy nor the boy's parents are sovereign citizens of this country, and therefore should not in any way be responsible to or for our laws. Asylum should only be granted in the authorized manner proscribed by law.

C) This boy has a living father, who, by the rights respected in this country in all other matters (like education, where a parent can choose to educate their children at home), declares Cuba to be the boy's home.

D) This is a bloated, disgusting, abhorrent media-driven struggle for ratings that has locked the government in the situation of either coming off cold and uncaring (they send him to "Siberia") or cold and uncaring (they divorce him from his father). Deciding which version of cold and uncaring they want to be is the only thing dragging this case out.

People with this much emotional baggage should not be writing influential articles on this subject matter. My parents were legal communist refugees. It took them both years to get here, followed by countless battles for equality and success that continue to this day.

One boat ride, as horrible as it is, does not an American make.

-- Mark Solomon

While Cathy Young makes some very compelling points regarding the return of anyone to a communist or despotic country in general, she fails to acknowledge the reason Elian must return. The law requires him too, just as it would have had his mother made it to Florida with him and all of the other imigris from other countries must return. U.S. and international laws have certain requirements that Elian and many others fail to meet. I read a ruling last week where the judge said "this is a country of laws, not people." Just because something is popular or moral, if it's illegal, the judiciary hands are tied. We are a country and people of laws, if the law is wrong, change it, don't circumvent it.

-- Jared Walkenhorst

Sharps & Flats



I was so shocked to read Seth Mnookin's review of Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now."
While there's nothing inherently wrong with pairing reviews of Joni Mitchell and Patti Smith, they have nothing at all to do with one another, other than being vaguely the same generation and female. I happen to like both artists a lot, and while I haven't yet heard Smith's newest, I can say that
Mnookin is in the minority as far as disliking Mitchell's latest. It is, quite simply, one of the best recordings I've heard in ages. I felt strongly about writing this letter, as I wouldn't want people to stay away from it, to get the wrong idea. I had the pleasure of receiving an advance copy some weeks ago, and I have fallen in love with the recording.

As an orchestral musician, I can say that the arrangements are not only first-rate, they are magical. There is a clichi among rock critics regarding anything with strings. "Schlocky" was the word employed by Mnookin. It's better not to comment about things one knows nothing about. To describe Vince Mendoza's arrangements this way is a dead giveaway the writer is unqualified on the subject -- Mendoza is in the top five in the business, and his work here is haunting, evocative and emotional. Regarding Mitchell's revisit of "A Case Of You," I liked the way she said "Canada" -- I felt it should be our new national anthem (I'm Canadian). I also cried when I heard it, and even upon subsequent listenings. I brought it to friends' houses,
and not one person was unmoved by this exceptional, bold and emotional statement from Joni Mitchell.

-- Jean-Pierre Leduc

It's very sad that not only has Joni Mitchell destroyed her voice with cigarettes, but that she's so adamant that the damn things remain part of her image.

I remember noticing two or three years ago that I couldn't recall ever having seen Joni pose for a photo without a cigarette in her hand. She's still a talented musician in so many ways, and I was thrilled to see her perform with Bob Dylan in 1998. But her early voice was such a beautiful, rare thing it makes you ache. Now you ache hearing it for another reason.

-- Dereck Daschke

In my book, Joni Mitchell was the ultimate female singer/composer and Bob Dylan the greatest male artist of my generation.
Funny how neither of them aged gracefully in their talent or personalities.
It seems they've both grown so uncaring and unpleasant, and their inspiration sure the hell fizzled away. How could such a thing have happened to my idol, Joni Mitchell?

-- Helen Cartwright

By Salon Staff

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