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Irreverent 'Barbershop' Cuts Close to Home

September 29, 2002

Re "Black Leaders Angered by Scene Say 'Barbershop' Needs a Trim," Sept. 25: I am African American, and while I don't personally agree with the controversial statements made in this hilarious film, I do recognize that, as a person who has experienced firsthand the types of discussions and gossip that occur in a barbershop, the statements made were only an example of the types of outlandish things one might hear in that environment. When I became the father of a son, one of the things I looked forward to was taking him to the barbershop, an institution in any African American community.

There is always one person in the shop, either a customer or employee, who plays the devil's advocate and stokes the direction of the subject matter by saying something totally opposite to the popular point of view. Those statements in "Barbershop," while being controversial, only served to underscore the depiction of that type of person in that setting. I think the Revs. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and other so-called black leaders should fight the bigger battle against unemployment, lack of educational opportunity, etc., and stop attempting to censure the entertainment industry for an artistic endeavor that is obviously being played for broad laughs.

Duane Norris

Carson

*

One word to Jackson and Sharpton and all other critics of the movie "Barbershop": Chill. I see the level of candor and free speech in this movie as incredibly refreshing. A people's ability to not only laugh at themselves (and even at their sacred icons) but let the world in on it is evidence of great health and maturity. These critics are not demonstrating this maturity at all, and they are insulting the intelligence of the African American community as well as our diverse community at large. By throwing such tantrums they are only reinforcing the stereotype of the hypersensitive, who have been so catered to in the political correctness movement that they have become nothing more than super-self-centered spoiled brats. I shudder to think how they will react to the typical everyday criticism and attempts at humor leveled at our first black president.

Shelley Frost

Redondo Beach

*

Jackson's comment that "you would not make Golda Meir the butt of a joke" displays a profound ignorance of Jewish tradition. Not only political leaders of the Jewish state but biblical patriarchs and the Almighty himself have been legitimate targets for Jewish humor. For 3,000 years Jews have targeted such luminaries both in and out of the faith; even God is not immune and is the occasional butt of a joke in the Talmud and the Midrash [rabbinical commentaries on the Scriptures]. Fair is fair: If Jews can make fun of God, surely blacks can make fun of Jesse Jackson. Tell Jesse to lighten up.

Joseph Helfer

Topanga

*

I am deeply disappointed in Jackson's and Sharpton's calls for a boycott and apology for the movie "Barbershop." Didn't the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. give his life so we could all have civil rights, including freedom of speech? To top it off, Jackson admits not having seen the movie, basing his opinion just on reading a version of the script.

Mary Michel Green

San Clemente

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