In his column last week Bob McCord suggests I wrote (in my column of April 28) that I would probably never see Paul Greengrass’ film “United 93.” That’s not the case. In fact, I wrote that I felt “a certain professional responsibility to see it” because critics have an obligation to keep up with their field.
Bob may be onto something when he suggests that some people might be upset because of the sweetheart deal accorded Time; however that’s standing operating procedure with so-called tentpole movies. Time or Newsweek basically buy early access in exchange for the cover — the result is usually a hyperventilating puff piece declaring “Munich” (or whatever) the year’s most indispensable film. Some critics do get bothered by things like that — though the Dennis Lim review I quoted — and the Robert Butler review we ran in the newspaper — were pretty favorable.
Personally I don’t think anything is a “must see” or that citizenship can be certified by virtue of having bought a ticket for a movie. People who get their history from the movies get the kind of history they deserve. That applies whether the filmmaker is Oliver Stone or Mel Gibson or Paul Greengrass.
Gays in Arkansas
I just read two articles about gays in Arkansas: “The Lavender Dollar” and the story about the cross-dressing, albeit heterosexual law enforcement officer. They were entertaining and fun. Kudos to all involved.
This letter, however, is to remind Arkansas Times readers about the article that’ll NEVER appear in the press. That article would be about all of the regular Joes and Janes who, while gay, live boring lives working and living quietly, not partaking in the drag shows, gay bars, diversity weekends, etc.—not that there’s anything wrong with those events—and often raising snot-nosed kids who amazingly grow up to be — shh! — heterosexual.
To drive home my point, society loves to put gays in self-comforting niches: the hair dresser and interior decorator, the butch and femme, the “funnest” people to be around, liberal, perverse.
But that’s not what the majority of gay people are like. Most of us blend into the fabric of Main Street, USA. We’re not necessarily fun or funny. Some of us don’t even like Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland. We prefer the Grand Ol’ Opry to Madame Butterfly. More than a few of us eschew trendy fashion for sneakers, jeans and tee shirts. We even like Nascar.
Don’t tell anybody, but some of us don’t go to the gym. Many of us don’t care to hold hands in public because we’re private individuals. We’re Republican and Democrat, we’re Baptists, Methodists, Catholics, and Jews, we hate our jobs, we don’t give a crap about who wins Miss Arkansas, and we even call the Hogs every fall.
To quote the biggest drag queen of all — Linda Tripp — “[we’re] just like you.” Tragic, isn’t it? Yet, no one ever writes an article about the true stereotypical gay American. That’s why the nudniks in Eureka Springs — who close down their shops on diversity weekend, or only rent rooms to Christians — remain in the Dark Ages.
Is it asking too much for the press to educate their readers instead of reinforcing their misconceptions?
Small school defender
Does Robert McCord ever bother to research before he writes? He effectively slammed all small schools and basically said that bigger is better. For research purposes, please check how many schools in Arkansas are on probation or have been cited. You will find a large number of them in Little Rock, Pine Bluff, Fort Smith, etc. Do the math and figure how many students are affected by these particular schools. Then check how many small schools are classified as performing poorly and then add their numbers of students. Then insert foot in mouth.
Kingston High School had 14 graduates last year. We had three students with scores of 32 or better on their ACT. We had the highest test scores in 8th-grade math in the state of Arkansas in 2003. 100 percent of the students scored proficient or advanced in both algebra and geometry for two of the last three years. Our Family and Consumer Science Club has won state prizes. A University of Arkansas study showed Kingston High School as the highest performing high school in the state of Arkansas for the economic and social factors that we have to deal with.
Mr. McCord, I challenge you to find a high school in the state of Arkansas that did better on the ACT as a senior class than Kingston. Please go visit some of the schools in Little Rock that you think offer so much more to their students. At Kingston we do not have a gang problem, we do not have a drug problem, but we do have a media problem. There are 210 students K-12 in the Kingston School system from an area covering 175 square miles. Only an idiot would say that everyone should live in a town or within easy driving distance of one. In America, people can choose where they live and the government is responsible for providing an education to all students.
Jasper School District
Good old boys
Anyone who doesn’t think that the Arkansas legislature is a good old boys network — with the exception of some outstanding lady legislators — didn’t attend the recent debate by Democratic candidates for lieutenant governor hosted by the Young Democrats. Three candidates (Jay Martin, Mike Hathorn and Tim Wooldridge) greeted one another with respect and occasional affectionate remarks. Not so with Bill Halter, clearly the outsider. When Mr. Halter said he wanted to raise teachers’ annual salaries by $5,000, you could almost see the hair standing up on the other candidates’ necks. After all, isn’t that what the entire legislature has been trying to do during the past two legislative sessions?
The job of lieutenant governor entails a lot of interaction with legislators who think he should be someone who actually served in the legislature and is familiar with state issues. My personal favorite candidate, Jay Martin, was chosen by his peers to be House Majority leader based on his ability to build consensus on the issues.
The upcoming primary election will be a test of whether lots of money for advertising or a proven track record of service to Arkansas decides your vote.
North Little Rock