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Mann's World

October 18, 1992

I am increasingly disturbed by the trend in action films to come to terms with brutality by exploring its "noble" aspects. After reading about "The Last of the Mohicans," and recalling "Manhunter" and certain episodes of "Miami Vice," I find Michael Mann's preoccupation with the heroic qualities of torture and mutilation particularly offensive ("One Mann, Two Worlds," by Elaine Dutka, Sept. 20).

Drive-by shootings that take the lives of the young and innocent may seem senseless. However, they would be much more understandable if viewed in light of the above role models for strength and heroism.

Over the past several decades filmmakers have explored and exploited the darker side of human nature ad nauseam. I challenge them to explore the adventure of positive human potential. For example, with some modifications I think "Atlas Shrugged" could make an exciting screenplay. Wouldn't it be more profitable to open up a new genre than to try to squeeze one more film out of the worn-out theme of the ruthless killer doctor/roommate/nanny/alien/drug lord/terrorist/cowboy/ex-lover . . .

I'm sorry if some directors, writers and producers have deep-seated psychological issues around masculinity, weakness and domination. But please let's get these people some therapy rather than making high art out of their pathology. Stop pandering to the public's fear and fascination with the cruel and bizarre.

I'm not a member of the religious right and I don't believe any group ought to impose its values on another. But let's at least have the awareness and honesty to identify the causes and consequences of our actions. Ideally, a sense of social responsibility and perhaps simple shame could accomplish what legislation and boycotts never can.

WILLIAM MILLER

Valencia

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