Letters from our readers.
July 24 1998 3:30 AM

Address your e-mail to the editors to letters@slate.com. Please include your address and daytime phone number (for confirmation only).


Chasing Matt Damon

In your July 18 "Assessment" of the Weinstein brothers, you state that Miramax was "the driving force" between various independent movies, among them Clerks, Trainspotting, and Il Postino. The wording of your article suggests that Miramax partook in the creation of those movies, when in fact they were funded and filmed without Miramax's assistance, and then Miramax bought and distributed them. Similarly, your suggestion that Miramax "eschews expensive stars" and "uses novices" such as Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting suggests that the use of Damon in the lead role was the result of an aesthetic, or perhaps moral, decision on the part of the Weinstein brothers. In fact, Damon, who was one of the movie's writers, attached himself to the project as an actor as a condition of its purchase. True, if Miramax were not fond of "using novices," they might have rejected Damon's condition. But it's also worth mentioning that Harvey Weinstein's interest in funding Good Will Hunting was not spurred by his own finely tuned aesthetic sensibilities but rather by Kevin Smith, a golden boy after the profitable release of Chasing Amy, who delivered the script for Good Will Hunting to Weinstein in person and insisted that it be made. The moral here is to remember the difference between the ability to recognize quality and the ability to create it out of whole cloth.

--Michael Bennett Cohn

Chatterbox, Eat Your Hat!


The July 6 "Chatterbox" accused supporters of Alabama Gov. Fob James of "down-and-dirty," "soulless," and "win-at-cost" politics because they called African-American Birmingham Mayor Richard Arrington a "liberal Democratic political boss" and printed his picture when Arrington endorsed James' primary opponent. My, my, aren't we sensitive. What part isn't true? And what is wrong with reminding people that Arrington is black? Is Chatterbox claiming that race is politically irrelevant? And Arrington isn't being made into a "Willie Horton for the 1990s"? Chatterbox is equating the pairing of one's political opponent with a violent criminal to the pairing of one's political opponent with a mayor? I hope he will be similarly concerned the next time a Republican is roughed up a little.

--John Welte

The Strong, Silent Type

About the following item in the July 16 "Today's Papers": "USAT runs a completely positive account of the productive and powerful partnership that has developed between Hillary Clinton and Madeleine Albright, especially regarding international women's issues such as the handling of rape charges at the Rwanda War Crimes Tribunal, and clamping down on the international prostitution trade. So what does it say about the First Lady that for this article she not only declined to be interviewed but even declined to answer written questions?"


Perhaps it says that the first lady feels that she can accomplish more in the real world by doing rather than talking, or perhaps she feels that the public has had its fill of interviews and answers to written questions from such female luminaries as Linda Tripp, Paula Jones, and Monica Lewinsky. Get real!!!

--Dick TartowDemocratic candidate, state SenateNew Hampshire

All Lewinsky, All the Time

The July 16 Today's Papers asks what it says about Hillary Clinton that she refused to comment for a USA Today story on her partnership with Madeleine Albright.


My response: It says that she and her husband have been under such a barrage of unfair criticism for so long that she is keeping her head down. A low profile is not always such a bad thing, especially when MSNBC is all Lewinsky, all the time.

--Roy Barnhill

Down With Brown!

Andrew Sullivan's assessment of Tina Brown's New Yorker editorship in "Book Club" was brilliantly on the money. She replaced fine, intelligent journalism with warmed-over Variety, New York, and Vanity Fair pap and chased a lot of solid literary and artistic talent out of the building and kept the door locked lest taste, God forbid, get in.


--Robert WeberGuilford, Conn.

Too Much Sex ...

Someday, I am going to enter into Slate's online world and find nothing about Monica Lewinsky, Linda Tripp, or anything involving the words "sex scandal." Someday ...

--Kiffin Smith

... And Too Much Breakfast

I love the zine, and don't get me wrong about this, but go easy on "The Breakfast Table," OK? This "easy aces" number takes up way too much space. A lot of us read the papers, too (I do as part of my job), but why let Marjorie and Tim hog so much of the book? If I want to have conversation about the trivia of urban life, I can talk with my own wife; and you can fill the otherwise entertaining, informative, urbane, and whimsical pages of Slate with things that I can't get at home.

--Mike Gray

Address your e-mail to the editors to letters@slate.com. Please include your address and daytime phone number (for confirmation only).