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'Why Do Critics Love Those Repellent Movies?'

March 31, 1991

Re the March 17 articles that appeared under the headline "Why Do Critics Love Those Repellent Movies?": Stephen Farber's simplistic commentary and Sheila Benson's self-serving rebuttal both fail to deal with the basic issue. Their attempts to evaluate the ethics of film critics is a little like judging the fleas on the back of a dung beetle hanging from the rump of a rhinoceros. The disturbing phenomenon is not the flea or the beetle but the ugly beast they feed on. And that ugly beast is us.

Aside from the fact that sadistic decadence is apparently chic in the filmmaking community, the main reason that mindlessly violent movies are made is they make enormous sums of money.

Recently, after hours of watching the war's carnage and the endless repetitions of the Rodney King beating, I saw "The Grifters" and "GoodFellas," Oscar-nominated films. I was unprepared for the sickening violence.

All of the brutal images, the real ones on TV and the fictional ones in the movies, made me feel a little like novelist Joseph Conrad's Kurtz. I felt as though I had been looking into the "heart of an immense darkness" that was the soul of my country. And, like Kurtz, I could only exclaim: "The horror, the horror."

MARVIN A. GLUCK

Topanga

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