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Finding True 'Genius' in a Mediocre Talent Pool

March 28, 2004

While it's true that we throw around the word "genius" too much, this shouldn't leave our whole culture splashing about the mediocrity pool ("The Golden Age of Mediocrity," by Patrick J. Kiger, March 7). For example, in 50 or 100 years, when "Citizen Kane" is still being appreciated, the genre of film will have been equally, if not more, enhanced by "Schindler's List." And while people may remember Orson Welles, they may speak even more reverently of Steven Spielberg.

The media's overwhelming presence, in fact, makes it easier for us to differentiate between the really bad and the really good. "American Idol" is but one avenue that proves the former heavily outweighs the latter. Come to think of it, that could very well be Kiger's point.

Craig Reem

Executive editor

Churm Publishing Inc.

Newport Beach


Kiger's article was on the mark. Conspicuously absent, however, was any meaningful discussion of the journalists who arguably have done more to promote the idea of genius than anyone else. I'm referring, of course, to pop music critics who have made careers out of deifying people such as Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and the Beatles. We are awash in breathless proclamations of the unequaled greatness of assorted recording acts. To question the larger significance of Bob Dylan, for instance, is to engage in a kind of cultural deviance.

Tim Dougherty

Santa Barbara


I am left astounded by at least two things in Kiger's piece: 1) The only women mentioned seem to be Madonna and Britney Spears and 2) he is apparently unfamiliar with the body of work and genius of Eminem. Kiger says that W. Somerset Maugham would turn in his grave if he saw Rolling Stone magazine's 2003 cover proclaiming the genius of Eminem. On the contrary, if Maugham were here today, he would be among the first to proclaim Eminem's unequivocal genius. Kiger asks us to think of a recent work that will be relevant 50 or 100 years from now. Eminem's "Lose Yourself" track from the film "8 Mile" will outlive all of us. I don't think Eminem is a savant, but neither was Shakespeare.

Brenda Riese


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