Shooting From the Hip

Shooting From the Hip

Shooting From the Hip

Recent posts from our readers forum.
Feb. 24 2000 3:30 AM

Shooting From the Hip

Subject: My Exit Poll Results

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From: Will Allen

Date: Sat Feb 19

As a South Carolina resident I am pleased to give "The Fray" my exit poll results. The size of the sample was one. The vote was cast for McCain. When queried, the sample provided the issue that was most important in influencing the decision: The Bush campaign bugged the sample more often with telemarketing than McCain.

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In the midst of a very busy week, the sample was bothered by the governor's posse a total of six times, while the senator's crew only distracted the sample from pressing business once. Furthermore, the senator's effort consisted of a taped message from the senator himself stating in a reasonable voice what a swell fellow the senator is, while the calls from the governor's campaign consisted of clumsy, amateurish people screeching to the sample that Sen. McCain in all likelihood had "666" tattooed somewhere on his body. The sample concluded that a group that was less competent than the average long-distance provider in terms of enticing people probably would not govern effectively, and since the sample had little affinity with either candidate, the sample cast a vote for McCain simply because he was less irritating.

The sample was asked why the vote wasn't cast for Keyes, since the ambassador neglected to bother the sample once with a telemarketing call. The sample believed that removing the ambassador from his position between the governor and the senator in the next debate may encourage fisticuffs, which would provide alternative cable to WWF smackdown.

Democracy in action.

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Subject: Keyes—Consistently Loony

From: Ryan Danks

Date: Thu Feb 17

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Ambassador Keyes' world, at first glance, seems wonderful. So does the land of Narnia, and I'm not sure that it isn't a more realistic picture of our society. I think that people (including, unfortunately, the usually excellent Mr. Saletan) are missing the point about Keyes, which is that the substance of his views is so far outside of the mainstream of American thought as to almost be laughable. Yes, he is remarkably consistent—as remarkably consistent as he can afford to be, as he has never has had, nor is in any danger of having, held an office of any sort of responsibility. Keyes is an excellent speaker, no question; I was at the '95 Iowa straw poll and to this day believe that he would have won had the voting happened after the speeches. However, that just proves that he is an accomplished demagogue, not that he ought to be president.

We need to make sure that there are forums for the outlet of all sorts of political ideas. However, we are also six and a half months away from choosing the next president and I think we need the opportunity to get a clear look at the choice between McCain & Bush and Bradley & Gore. Besides, if Keyes really has all that much to add to our national political conversation, why isn't he doing better in the polls after years of running? Why has he lost races in his home state?

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Subject: Political Game Shows

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From: P. Heckman

Date: Fri Feb 18

I read that Fox's Who Wants To Marry a Multi-Millionaire? trounced CNN's South Carolina presidential debate in the ratings. Why not synergize? Drop the grass-roots pretenses and stage the presidential election as a two-hour TV special, Who Wants To Elect a Multi-Millionaire? It'd be a lot less painful without sacrificing any degree of civic value.

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Subject: "Summary Judgment" 's Second-Guessing Games

From: David Edelstein

Date: Wed Feb 9

Eliza Truitt writes:

Elvis Mitchell, one of the New York Times' recently hired film critics, gives a glowing review that's probably making his new editors scratch their heads—he calls [Gun Shy] "one of the most subtle and inspired comedies you'll see this year."

Gun Shy is a terrific comedy that the studio subtly let critics know in advance was going to be a dog. Some of us called it like we saw it—as better than much of Wiseguy, Analyze This, and this season of The Sopranos. I think it's a near-classic screwball comedy. Are my editors scratching their heads about my rave of the film in Slate? Should I be worried here?

The fact is, critical majorities are often wrong. That's why smart, evocative, idiosyncratic voices like Elvis Mitchell's need to be prized, not ridiculed. And if you think he's nuts on the movie (we're all nuts on something from time to time), see the film and judge for yourself. Don't use as evidence the fact that other critics didn't have the same opinion. I'll bet no one wrote as well on it as Mitchell did. He also wrote wonderfully well for this magazine a couple months back and represents a refreshing change (along with A.O. Scott) from a century of Times movie grayness.

If the Times editors need to scratch their heads, they might do it over Stephen Holden's Simpatico review. I couldn't bring myself to write a word about that misbegotten movie, one of the saddest testaments to a once great talent (Sam Shepard) I've ever seen. But then, it's not my place to tell Times editors what to do. And I don't think it's this column's place either.

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[David Edelstein is Slate's film critic.]

Subject: Re: "Summary Judgment" 's Second-Guessing Games

From: Eliza Truitt

Date: Wed Feb 9

If the purpose of Summary Judgment were for me to express my opinions on movies, books, etc., I would agree with you wholeheartedly that I should experience the works firsthand before commenting on them. But the purpose of the column is for me to express my thoughts on the reviews other people have written about movies, books, etc.—not what I thought of the work itself.

You obviously loved the movie, and so did Mitchell. It's your right and obligation to express those views as a critic. As a meta-critic, it is my job to express my views about your views and Mitchell's views in the context of the overall response to the movie. Every critic besides you and Mitchell called the movie a stinker, therefore I made note of the anomaly. And I do not think that saying Mitchell wrote a review "that's probably making his new editors scratch their heads" can in any way be construed as "telling Times editors what to do."

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[Eliza Truitt writes Summary Judgment for Slate.]

Subject: Chatterbox Fooled by Statistics

From: Stu Bloom

Date: Wed Feb 16

Chatterbox writes: "In 1900, the vast majority of Americans didn't even live to age 65 (average life expectancy back then was about 45)."

Strictly true, perhaps, but probably a bit misleading. By far, the main reason for the lower life expectancy was the very high rate of mortality during infancy and young childhood, when infections killed at a very high rate. (Average someone who died at 88 with someone who died at 2 and you get 45.) Once you got past early childhood, you had a reasonably good chance of attaining a ripe old age. The life expectancy of a 45-year old was not that different then than today—our far superior medical care was offset to a degree by our more sedentary lifestyles and higher-fat diets. There were millions of Americans 65 and over in 1900.

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