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Blacks Have a Responsibility to Criticize Theater Violence

May 05, 1991

Teri Walton's attack on Mann Theaters in the April 21 Letters section shows the kind of misdirected thinking that has resulted in the situation she condemns.

She does not mention the pattern of unjustified, antisocial behavior that has accompanied the release of certain black-themed films. And in venting her fury on Mann's efforts to protect itself from possible legal action, she by implication condones it.

Blacks, and especially those self-styled spokespersons for the black community, have a greater responsibility for condemning and acting to prevent such activities, especially if, like Walton, they want to continue to "see (our) people on the big screen."

For if it happens again with one of the upcoming black-themed releases, exhibitors, already burdened with the expense of hiring additional security during the run of such films, will be justified in refusing to book future potentially "trouble-causing" releases. With no guaranteed outlets, studios will stop making or distributing them, and since industry honchos seem to feel that black filmmakers can or should only do "black-themed" films, blacks will spend another 20 years trying to get a toehold in Hollywood.

I am, incidentally, a black filmmaker who has also been a regular, almost weekly moviegoer for more than 35 years. And while I have not always liked the black images and some of the films that have been made over the years, I'm very well aware that efforts to improve those images and see more and better films made will not be helped by actions that keep people from theaters, or by one-sided support of those actions by people like Walton.

RICK MITCHELL

Los Angeles

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