Letters

Send a woman to review a "guy's flick"? Lump Radiohead in with Coldplay? Readers are outraged over Stephanie Zacharek's "Batman Begins" review and Brendan O'Neill's "The Glimmering Twins."


Salon Staff
June 22, 2005 12:00AM (UTC)

[Read Stephanie Zacharek's review of "Batman Begins."]

In the first paragraph of her "Batman Begins" review, Stephanie Zacharek refers to the "original vision of Batman creator Bob Kane." In fact, most of the elements to which she refers have little or nothing to do with Bob Kane.

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Batman's origin (parents gunned down, tearful vow to defeat crime) is credited to Gardner Fox, who wrote the two-page origin sequence in Batman No. 1.

The "cloud of bats" derives mostly from the work of Frank Miller in "The Dark Knight Returns" and again, with David Mazzucchelli, in "Batman: Year One" (from which also clearly derives Gary Oldman's appearance as Jim Gordon).

Bruce's training trip to the Far East was added to Batman lore by writer Christopher Priest in the late 1980s.

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Even when invoking the initial creation of Batman, it's important to recognize the contribution of writer Bill Finger, who co-created the character with Kane. Other than appearance, Finger is responsible for many of the basics of the character, including his environment, secret identity, relationship with the police and methods of operating.

Of course, both Kane and Finger owe a great deal of inspiration to pulp heroes, particularly Zorro and the Scarlet Pimpernel.

Alas, despite ending this letter, I probably won't actually stop being nerdy.

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-- Greg Morrow

Zacharek is mistaken in pretty much every aspect of her "Batman Begins" critique. I found the movie highly entertaining, most especially because of the subtle, nuanced performance by Christian Bale. I found myself crying during several scenes, and nearly chortling with joy in others. The latest Batman movie gets to the heart and soul of the Batman mythos in a way that no other Batman movie has ever managed to approach.

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-- Grace Des Jardins

Such pissing and moaning. And coupled with phony intellectualism, to boot. I know it's gonna get me rapped, but that doesn't make it any less true: Never send a woman to review what is obviously a Guy's Flick. Especially when the flick in question is based on an adventure strip. We're not allowed to have our wish fulfillment fantasies anymore.

Oh, look ... Here comes "Bewitched." An acceptable fantasy. Where's my exploding batarang?

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-- Lee Moder

[Read "The Glimmering Twins" by Brendan O'Neill.]

The late 20th century is over. It's fine to mourn that fact, but let's not be romantic in glossing over the way drugs, reckless behavior and political disengagement destroyed some of the best lives those generations had to offer.

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I'm surprised that Salon would print such an incredibly shallow article. If there's something priggish about being politically involved, caring about the environment, going to good schools and having interest in alternative therapies, then how about an exposé on the prigs at Salon, and those taking over the rest of San Francisco as well?

-- Robert

I don't really give a s--- that Brendan O'Neill has a beef with Coldplay and Tony Blair, but his article is a mean-spirited waste of space. O'Neill displays his intolerance toward a currently popular genre of music (and, by extension, to its fans) and feels the need to equate the genre with conservative politics.

Noel Gallagher "took tea" with Tony Blair? It's the end of rock 'n' roll as we know it! Chris Martin grew up wealthy? May as well dismiss his art entirely (no street cred). I guess if O'Neill were American he'd be happy to dismiss the Strokes, since they come from money, too.

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Now Chris wants to meet Tony? Shocking!

O'Neill's infantile take seems to be that only Assholes can be taken seriously as Artists. O'Neill actually cites the fact that some disgraced right-wing politician likes to listen to Radiohead as proof that they are conservative(!). And, if you need more evidence, how about the fact that Thom Yorke is a social progressive who decries the waste and pollution of modern industrial life? Now that's conservative!

This is a serious commentary? C'mon, Salon, show a little discrimination!

-- Jonathan Steigman

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What a tragic article. If you don't like Coldplay's music, that's one thing; if you don't like their politics and private lives, another. I too get the sense of the watering down of their musical offering and am disappointed by it, but I refuse to say that I don't love some of their stuff. Chastise them for letting us down, but not for being who they are. Challenge them to continue to challenge themselves musically, not to define themselves by drug, alcohol and sex abuse. Someone with these kinds of reactions to the personal choices of the talented must be one confused rock-star wannabe. Why not raise your perspective to include their right to be human beings, and simultaneously fulfill your own human dream rather than spouting bitterness at their choice not to fulfill your rock fantasies. Why not pick up a guitar, stick a needle in your own arm and become the tragic, wracked, rebellious idol you crave to see?

-- Sherri

What are you saying, that good rock music can only come from poverty and misery? You've got to be kidding me. The angle of this article is that music isn't good unless its performers are fucked up on drugs and alcohol. I hate to tell you this, but many of us want to be uplifted by our listening experience, not degraded. I'm sure you can think of a better reason to hate a band than that they are vegans and don't want to hurt the environment. In case you haven't taken a look out your window lately, our world is full of nightmarish destruction. Wouldn't you prefer that our artists pointed a way clear of it, than remind us of how shitty it is? Give me Coldplay, Keane, Travis and Radiohead any day over the Sex Pistols. How can you blame a seminal band like Radiohead for conservatives liking them? Music is meant to unite. If people are learning from it, even people like Tony Blair, then all the better.

-- Adriana

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Yeah, Brendan, you're so right. Why is Chris Martin wasting his time trying to make the world a better place? It'd be so much more fun if he stabbed his wife to death in a drug-induced stupor and died from a heroin overdose. Now that's the kind of rock star Britain needs now.

-- Kathleen Sato

God forbid that we listen to music by an artist that doesn't follow Salon's idea of what is politically correct. Must we listen only to artists that share our political views? How about just listening to something because we enjoy it? You could be of real help here and provide us with an appropriate checklist of values upon which to measure an artist's political profile before we listen to a song.

-- Marianne Fox Davies

What silly vitriol. The writer proceeds on the assumption that the reader shares his disdain for all things related to Blair/Bush and anyone not sharing his enlightened cynicism is too dense to be taken seriously. He simply tosses cheap verbal spitballs at a rocker who doesn't march in lockstep with the likes of the Boss, Bono, Alec Baldwin and Susan/Tim Sarandon/Robbins.

I have never heard Coldplay, don't know if I would like their music. But this guy's political attitude takes balls. It's folks like this who take the big risks of ostracism and lost fans for their political incorrectness. Meanwhile, from the safety of the herd, so-called political dissidents cry that they're being "targeted" for "standing up to the racist, fascists" (that would be Bush and his lapdog, Blair) who are running the world into the ground. And exactly how many of these so-called dissidents have been "silenced"?

-- William Moser

Excuse me, but cupping is not some esoteric new-age fad. It's integral to Chinese traditional medicine, which has been around a lot longer than Western allopathic medicine. But am I really having to defend Chinese medicine on Salon? One would expect such offhand racist remarks about other cultures on Rush Limbaugh, but not Salon. The magazine that has an exclusive on the machinations of the pharmaceutical industry (i.e., mercury in vaccinations) can't see the irony of belittling traditional (noncorporate) medicine in the same issue? It's not that subtle.

-- Beaty Reynold

If my president looked and acted like the lead singer of Coldplay, I'd be much happier right now. Indeed, when Blair showed up to address Congress after Sept. 11, the first words out of my mouth were "Oh please, can we trade?" Not that I would wish Bush on the U.K., but still ...

Besides, rock is no stranger to politics. Sonny Bono went from "I Got You Babe" to being an influential member of the House. Krist Novoselik -- one of the two members of Nirvana who didn't shoot himself after having a heroin habit -- is active in politics, and looks likely to be in Congress at some point as well. Plus we all remember Clinton's saxophone playing, and Kerry had a garage band in high school that even cut an album.

Thankfully, the Dixie Chicks, who have the same dialect as Bush, are his polar opposite in both politics and looks. If they were running the country, we wouldn't be in this mess.

-- Kevin Andrew Murphy

It's unsettling to hear about Chris Martin cozying up to Tony Blair, the man who supported Bush and lied about the war in Iraq, but maybe the rocker can help sway Blair's politics. Bono is incredibly politically active and has done a lot of good. Is that bad? I think it's more unsettling that you're saying to be a real rocker you have to do drugs and fuck shit up. Can't music be conscious of the world's larger picture and try to inspire people to change? God love the Sex Pistols but they were only ever looking out for No. 1 and telling everyone else to go "fuck themselves" which is exactly what I see all the suits on Wall Street doing. Maybe they are the only true punks left.

-- Josh Odor

O'Neill's sociological criticism of Coldplay is part of an overdue backlash against that band's gaseous music. But I pity him his meager prescription for good rock music: "experimental" and romantically wasted. What was the British rock press up to when Coldplay first came on the scene? Shitting its pants with hyped-up praise, just like it does every time something new-ish comes down the pike. Years later, the same publications shower the same bands with pure venom. Meanwhile, the U.K.'s best rock bands -- soulful, innovative groups like Sunderland's Leatherface -- go completely ignored because they don't fit the critics' dumb, '60s-obsessed ideas of what rock bands should be. The British music press gets exactly the empty, posturing music it deserves, but the British public pays for it.

-- Andrew Marcus

Coldplay sucks and they may be toadies for Blair to boot, but to toss Radiohead into the same basket is absurd.

So what if Brendan O'Neill is right that Thom Yorke wouldn't have approved of fans throwing beer bottles everywhere at the Stones' Hyde Park concert? If Radiohead can make great music despite not being a bunch of assholes, I'd call it progress.

-- Alan Hartley

Nothing irritates me more than the asinine critical lumping of Coldplay and Radiohead. And now to add flaccid-music-makers Keane to the list? Perhaps you are unaware of this, but Radiohead actually has released albums beyond "Pablo Honey." I know what you're thinking: "Coldplay was more inspired by 'The Bends' anyway." Yes, I know. Way to pass Rock Criticism 101.

To discuss musical blandness and include Radiohead is a shocking example of either laziness or sheer malice. Maybe Thom Yorke's condescending remarks can be grating, but shouldn't intelligence (and musical innovation) be cherished at a time like this?

-- Eric Wheeler


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