Readers debate "Enterprise" and mourn the Man in Black. And female horror fans say yes to nudity -- but wonder what's so sacred about the penis!

By Salon Staff

Published September 17, 2003 8:00PM (EDT)

[Read "'Star Trek's' New Moral Frontier," by Sumana Harihareswara.]

I live in Ithaca, N.Y. -- home of liberals, hippies, gays, and a cable company that refuses to carry a UPN station. I have seen one or two episodes of "Enterprise" via a friend who has satellite TV. While he likes the series, I have never been impressed with what I saw.

"Star Trek" fans like continuity. We get into big debates with each other over why Klingons in the new shows have ridges on their foreheads and the original Klingons don't. We get into arguments about how Zefram Cochrane appeared in the film "First Contact" vs. how he appeared in the original series episode "Metamorphosis." And some of us -- like me -- hang our heads and sigh when we see "Enterprise" completely ignore continuity in order to make "entertaining television." (Case in point: The series premiere, "Broken Arrow," featured a Klingon on Earth -- years before first contact was said to have happened.)

I know that the previous paragraph reads like a geek wrote it. Well, I am a geek. "Trek" fans are geeks. "Enterprise" doesn't deserve the support of geeks. I don't miss it at all.

-- Joseph Prisco

I enjoyed Sumana Harihareswara's piece on "Star Trek Enterprise." Harihareswara thinks a bit more of the show than I do, but I found the season ender (with the Xindi attack) moving and provocative. However, I think the historical parallels between that and 9/11 are more complex and interesting than portrayed in the article, and I hope the producers of the show follow up on that complexity. While from the point of view of Earth the attack was terror, from the point of view of the Xindi, who see humans destroying them in the future, it was preemptive war. Now that's an interesting parallel.

-- Steve Hicken

Great article by Sumana Harihareswara on the season premiere of "Enterprise." It was intelligent, well written, lively and decidedly un-nerdy. It's refreshing to see that a "Star Trek" fan obviously does have a life. Strangely enough, I was going to go to a yoga class tonight, thinking that I myself needed to get out of the house and get a life, and her article changed my mind. An evening watching a sci-fi show where the characters are morally challenged and the stories are messy and ambiguous sounds like too much fun to pass up.

The problems she pointed out with the earlier "Star Trek" franchises were right on the mark. Somewhere along the way I went from being proud of being a "Star Trek" fan to being just plain embarrassed. The shows got more and more routine and condescending. If only the producers of shows like these would listen more to writers like Sumana Harihareswara. Keep up the good work.

-- C. Lim

[Read "Blood, Guts, Death, Mayhem and Nudity," by Daniel Kraus.]

I am so fucking tired of the assumption that the audience for horror movies, or for all movies that are not centered around a gaggingly sweet romance complicated by stupid and repetitive misunderstandings, is male. Women go to the movies; we are not always taken there by some randy young thing eager for a grope in the dark. And guess what? When we do go to the movies on dates with a guy we have as much, if not more, input as to what movie will be watched as he does.

I have been a horror fan since conception. I've been reading Stephen King since I was 8. Like most horror fans I have been disappointed in the schlock that has been featured in the cineplexes for most of my life. And yes, I do believe that nudity is elemental in your basic horror flick. But what, may I ask, is so fucking sacred about dick?

-- Wahrena Pfeister

Apparently Daniel Kraus doesn't get out much. In the opening paragraph, he describes the film "Evil Dead" as "85 of the most stomach-churning minutes in motion picture history." Perhaps he is exaggerating for effect, but if he really believes that line, I can't begin to take seriously any claims he makes about the film he is covering. "Evil Dead" was a low-budget horror film with marginal effects and only an average amount of gore or suspense, compared to other low-budget horror films. What made it memorable was the creative directorial talents of Sam Raimi, and the emerging skills of physical comedian/character actor Bruce Campbell. To suggest otherwise only demonstrates the author's ignorance and/or distaste for the genre.

-- Jeremy Lassen

From Daniel Kraus' interview with Eli Roth, I get the impression that Roth had no problem finding male actors who were willing to do nudity. So, if I go see "Cabin Fever" I'll be seeing lots of penises, right?

-- Paula Barr

[Read "Johnny Cash, 1932-2003," by Stephanie Zacharek.]

I woke up this morning to the news that Johnny Cash -- one of the only musician heroes I have as an adult -- had died. The clock radio came on at roughly 10 minutes after 6. Bob Edwards was saying: "Two celebrities died today..."

My first thought was, oh my God, it's finally happened. Johnny Cash is dead. And sure enough, in three seconds Bob Edwards would prove me right.

All day, I've been trying to articulate to people just what it is I love about Johnny Cash and his music. Stephanie Zacharek was able to put into words what I'd only felt before. It's his humanity -- his willing to forgive and sympathize with even the worst people -- that makes his music so resonating and honest, even when he didn't write the songs himself.

-- Jeff Barrus

Thanks so much to Stephanie Zacharek for her beautiful, moving tribute to one of the century's best and most amazing musicians. Her last two sentences expressed exactly what I've been feeling since I heard the news of Cash's death this morning. I'm so glad that she was able to put into words what's been creeping through my mind all day.

-- Alice Stanulis

Johnny Cash's death leaves a hole in the world. I think his music lasted not so much because of the protest songs as because of the intensely personal connection anyone who listened to him felt. Johnny Cash was angry and sad and hopeful and loving and sorry and ashamed, and not afraid to show us all of that. He didn't lead the kind of rock 'n' roll/country music ministry that we usually expect of icons; he seemed more interested in battling his personal demons for our incidental benefit.

What W.H. Auden wrote about Yeats seems to apply:

You were silly like us; your gift survived it all.
The parish of rich women, physical decay,

God grant him that peace.

-- Ellen Lamb

Thanks, I guess, for the story on Johnny Cash. The writer and the story were fine, but I find it hard to swallow that a man you justly describe as one of the founders of modern country music and rock 'n' roll doesn't rate being the subject of your lead story -- particularly in light of how that same space is being taken up lately by more popular-culture pieces. I think cartoon figure Tucker Carlson could have waited a couple of days -- and if not, it wouldn't have been a great loss to have never seen his story.

-- John Grooms

When I heard the news about Johnny Cash's death I blurted out, "Oh, no!" and I don't do that often, confronted with the demise of a celebrity. Of all the tributes I've come across online, Zacharek's was best. Thanks.

-- Daryl Haney

I knew it was coming. We all knew it was coming, at least those of us who kept up with him. But he held on, determined to keep reaching out to new generations of music fans. I remember thinking to myself a few years ago: "What's it going to be like on the day that he passes away? Will there be long strings of limousines like the ones that followed Elvis Presley's hearse?" Well, the day came Sept. 12, 2003. I got to work that morning, where I logged on to a news site and found out. I wasn't surprised but, still, my breath caught. My heart skipped a beat. It had happened. It poured down rain most of the day and he was all I could think about. He was one of the biggest influences in my musical career and in keeping my faith in humans to speak out against injustice, not in a clichéd, flag-waving way but in a thoughtful, storytelling, front-porch way. Being a fellow Southerner, he felt like part of my family. My grandfather taught me how to play my first Cash song: "I Walk the Line."

Johnny Cash, a Bodhisattva in my book, was finished with his work here on earth. Thank you, J.C., for a job well done.

-- Brian Johnson

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