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The Year That Was

January 09, 1994

Regarding Calendar's coverage of the top stories of 1993 (Dec. 26):

Part of the problem of Beavis and Butt-head's influence on children has been overlooked: the fallacious notion of the populace (adults and children alike) that all animated films and programs are for juveniles ("The Guys Who Drove a Bigger Wedge Between the Generations," by Chris Willman).

Many creations have used cartooning to create something of artistic or literary merit with adult themes: "Wait Till Your Father Gets Home," "Heavy Metal," "Fantasia," "American Pop," "The Simpsons."

"Beavis" was obviously designed for an adult and late-teen audience mature enough to understand it at the satirical level. It does air on MTV, after all, right after the gangsta videos and condom commercials.

JEFFREY FRIEND

Fullerton

*

Since I have but one child fast approaching 40, and am singularly devoid of grandchildren, my awareness of those nefarious nudniks Beavis and Butt-head has been mercifully marginal. But they merely typify a terrible trend of antisocial influence on deluded youth that began when rock 'n' roll oozed on the scene some 40 years ago!

James Thurber's memorable short story "The Greatest Man in the World" tells of Jackie Smurch, intrepid '30s aviator, who flew an incredible nonstop solo around the Earth in a broken-down monoplane but proved such a loudmouthed, amoral braggart that government officials hid him from an idolatrous populace, finally shoving him out of a high hotel window to an "accidental" death.

Conversely, Babe Ruth, privately a profane, alcoholic, gluttonous womanizer, was so keenly aware of his responsibility as a hero of American youth that he unfailingly projected an unsullied public image, like most of the legendary fliers, athletes and popular musicians of that era.

But today's teen idols, real or imaginary, are hampered neither by government supervision nor the pangs of conscience, more's the pity!

MARVIN H. LEAF

Rancho Mirage

*

Your critics listed their Top 10 films of the year ("Moviegoers' Trip to Bountiful"), and with few exceptions, the choices were honorable. However, they failed to place Steven Soderbergh's "King of the Hill" on their lists, and I simply cannot understand why.

This is a magnificent, understated film adaptation of an A. E. Hotchner memoir, a small tale of one boy's knockabout life and survival during the Great Depression. It is as personal, moving and inspired as any film released in 1993, and it is, finally, so much larger than its small scale, thanks to the universality of its story and the excellent production values.

Every year a handful of films are overlooked at Oscar time, likely because academy members just haven't gotten around to seeing them. I hope this letter will be the start of a campaign to re-release "King of the Hill" in more than a limited run, thereby catalyzing academy and public interest. That's the least I can do for a film that did so much for me.

ROBERT W. BLACK

Long Beach

*

In his Top 10 list of 1993, Kenneth Turan reflected the typical condescending attitude facing Steven Spielberg when he calls "Schindler's List" "a surprise coming from (him)."

Even though Spielberg's previous films might "merely" be considered entertainment, they are still reflections of a consummate, skilled professional. At least Spielberg, unlike Turan, has never condescended to his audience. His only goal has been to try to provide first-class productions, whatever their content.

The greatness of "Schindler's List" is that no matter how many people try to diminish Spielberg's accomplishment, its quality will long outshine most of the pretentious tripe on Turan's list.

KEN MARCUS

Los Angeles

*

"Leolo" on two Top 10 lists? Yecch! Repeated shots of fat, middle-aged people on the john, a gang rape of a cat, masturbation into tomatoes and raw meat--this is poetry?

And whatever happened to "The Remains of the Day"? Too refined for the Top 10 tastes?

R.A. LEE

Los Angeles

*

As usual, Martin Bernheimer has done a thorough job of presenting the Beckmesser Awards. However, I did notice one omission under "Jeers":

Sign($)-of-The-Times award: To Sunday Calendar, which requires about 20 pages of advertisements to justify a related article.

This must be the explanation for the near-total absence of any feature writing on subjects related to classical music and dance.

ALAN R. COLES

Long Beach

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