Wednesday, February 13, 2008

How To Write A Letter To The Editor (re: Armond White)

I'm surprised more people don't take advantage of writing letters to the editor. Used correctly they are an ingenious way to help promote their name or at the least their company's name or website.

In any event, if you ARE going to write a letter to the editor (and hopefully get it published), you might want to take a look at the example provided below.

I just came across a letter to the editor in this week's (Feb 13-19) edition of the weekly newspaper The New York Press. Quite a read. It's by Benjamin Kessler and it defends the paper's lead film critic Armond White. All is explained in the letter that I will post below. Mr. Kessler breathlessly breaks down what makes Armond White special and worth reading. It's a short and intelligent note filled with facts to back up his assertions.

--The Wow Jones Report

http://www.nypress.com/21/7/news&columns/mailbox.cfm

MAILBOX: The New York Press

Defending Armond White

Armond White has always inspired a lotta hate mail, but never before have the anti-Armond crowd occupied as great a proportion of the Mailbox as they have in recent weeks. Every week, it seems, a brand-new uninformed Armond-basher (or two) steps into what has become a reserved swath of the letters page, with little or no room set aside for rebuttal. As a longtime White reader and admirer, I felt compelled not just to contribute some words in support of this great, embattled critic but also to attempt to clarify why the man matters urgently, not just to me but to what's left of our culture.

As a longtime White reader and admirer, I felt compelled not just to contribute some words in support of this great, embattled critic but also to attempt to clarify why the man matters urgently, not just to me but to what’s left of our culture. -- Benjamin Kessler
Fresh examples of White’s artistry appear every week, but I will quickly examine his review of Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show (“Antiques Roadshow,” Feb. 6-12).

The first thing that should strike the reader is its brevity. In fewer than 700 words, White does much more than a mere overview or concept description. With impressive precision, he isolates details that speak forcefully (meaningful punch lines and the audience reactions to those punch lines—signifying moments of performance and communication). With dazzling lucidity, he builds an argument based on these examples, finding a socially rooted theme beneath the movie’s overt theme. Along the way, he comes across prevailing perceptions about comedy, movie stars, “fratboys,” etc. but never simply accepts them; he always subjects them to rigorous, passionate scrutiny. Reading the film becomes a way to access deep truths about art, culture and society.

Unfortunately, it’s clear that the Armond-bashers don’t care about truth. Their letters about White’s review of There Will Be Blood aren’t intelligent, impassioned responses; they’re outraged attempts to bully White into the baa-ing herd of critics who make a living transmitting Hollywood’s callousness and complacency to their readers. The readers, in turn, bask in the buzz of feeling superior to both popular taste and cultural history. White won’t join in, so he’s called an elitist. That’s an irony worthy of Altman, but far beyond the ken of Paul Thomas Anderson.—

Benjamin Kessler, Manhattan

1 comment:

ben kessler said...

WJ,

You honor me by posting my letter on this site, which I love and constantly check. It's rare for a new site to have such a consistent and engaging voice. You really know what you're doing.