LETTERS  PCR #226      (July 19--25, 2004)

 Vinnie Blesi on Lalino's "I, Robot Rap"
 and from Steve...
 and from Will
 and from ED...
 and from Nolan...
 and finally...Andy Lalino responds to his critics, re: the "I, Robot Rap"
 Key West Botanical Gardens Recognizes La Floridiana (and Will Moriaty's response)
 Key West Garden Club Recognizes La Floridiana (and Will Moriaty's response)
 Brandon Jones on Matt's Rail




Letters to the EditorWe welcome your feedback.

Readers: Andy Lalino's "I, Robot Rap" regretfully offended some readers and has generated some negative feedback. Breaking from my usual Lettercol arrangement of newest-first (more or less), this time I'm putting the respondents in the order they arrived, starting with Vinnie Blesi's immediately below. I'll be back at the end of this section with a few comments, then Andy has something to say. ---Nolan

VINNIE BLESI ON RACIST "I, ROBOT RAP"

Re: Lalino's Racist Rap
I was very disappointed in Andy Lalino's racist rap send-up of "I, Robot". (Re: "I, Robot Rap", Oddservations, this issue.--N) To suggest that a black man cannot play the part is ludicrious. The sorry attempts at ghetto-speak are equally offensive. I saw Will Smith interviewed for this movie and he is a very literate man. As a writer of a satirical column, I know that Nolan gives his writers incredible creative freedom. However I have no patience nor stomach for ignorant racist views and feel that Lalino has stepped over the line.

Take care,
Vinnie Blesi


FROM STEVE BEASLEY...

Nolan,
I like humor as much as the next guy....probably more. Having said that, I'm afraid I agree with Vinnie. Andy is talented, but I believe Will is a one of a handful of actors who standout among the other actors of today and deserves the credit he gets. I, too, was shocked when he was picked for "Wild, Wild West", primarily because the series originally starred William Conrad (Actually Robert Conrad; William Conrad played TV's "Cannon". The two names are frequently confused. ---N) and I was kinda of the mind that a remake should be as close to the original as possible and realistic. A typical drama Western flick with Will Smith as the Sherriff would be out of place because there likely were no black sherriffs back then, but in the case of WWW (the series), it was basically a sci-fi/comedy Western anyway....non-factual, as long as the actor portraying Jim West is human....you have a story keeping ties close to the original. Damn, I hope that last sentence makes sense...cuz as I read it back it looks sorta strange.

I believe Will Smith is an all-around excellent actor. I wouldn't have said that in "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" days, but his time and an amazing skill at choosing characters to portray has proven this. I'm quite sure Andy Lalino disagrees. But that's okay, because I don't believe we should all feel the same anyway.

Steve Beasley
Auckland, NZ


FROM WILLIAM MORIATY...

Nolan,
Although a lot of time and energy was put into Andy's "I Robot" rap, I have to agree with Vinnie on this one.

Will


FROM ED TUCKER...

Nolan,
Just wanted to drop you a note and let you know I read Andy's "I, Robot Rap" today. I have to say it gave me quite a laugh. When I read it, I thought it was written as a humorous expression of frustration over the current Hollywood cookie-cutter, by-the-numbers, safe bet at the expense of any actual artistic merit system. I guess that shows what I know!

- ED -


NOLAN HERE:

I profoundly regret the offense some readers and PCR staff took at the "I, Robot Rap", and yes, Andy Lalino is a mental case with more than a few screws loose and an oblique sense of humor. He's a dedicated fan, but we don't agree on everything. On this occasion, however, it is my belief his intentions were tragically misdiagnosed.

Although I sympathize to the extreme with Vinnie, a good friend, talented writer and fandom colleague for decades (and am surprised Will and Steve were also moved to write), and I take all comments very seriously, my personal feelings are actually closer to ED Tucker's.

I don't regard it as racist to satirize that the choice of Will Smith for every July-released movie role is anything but a premeditated marketing ploy and has NOTHING to do with his worth as an actor. His success in movies like "Independence Day" and "Men In Black", both mid-summer releases, initiated a superstitious trend among casting directors. "I, Robot" was planned for mid-summer release, ergo cast Will Smith as something, ANYthing, the star role, whatever, just get him.

Re: the race card. I admit Andy played a little hard-ball in the middle of his rap referring to Will Smith's African-American ancestry. But it isn't Andy Lalino pushing in you guys' faces that Will Smith is frequently cast against type as a black-guy-in-a-formerly-white-role...it's the studios. Sometimes it's appropriate and sometimes it's ridiculous (insert nod to "Wild Wild West" in here--"I, Robot" takes place in the future). I'm sure it isn't lost on you all that the soundtrack to many of Will Smith's films have at least one atrocious rap song (to me all rap songs are atrocious)--usually performed by Smith himself--sometimes just over the end credits--that seems woefully out of context with the narrative. Sure, Andy's imitation of "ghetto-speak" was a little over-the-top. Do that many hard rap fans attend summer sci-fi flicks? I sure didn't think so. Isn't it just Hollywood's gamble that a phony-baloney "hey, we're all just cool guys in da 'hood like you" rap song inclusion will sell more soundtracks if not more tickets? That's exploitation. Not so different from the William Marshall exploitation of the '70s Andy recalled. Nobody's blaming Will Smith.

Anyway, this is why I believe Andy chose to express his contempt the way he did.

And now a word from Andy.....brace yourself. ---Nolan


ANDY LALINO RESPONDS TO HIS CRITICS

Geez, that didn't take long, did it? Vinnie, don't be hurtin'! I even thought about doing a preface to "Do the I, Robot!", but decided "Fuck it; I'm sure N'sPCR readers are sharp enough to recognize it as satire". In retrospect, I damn well should have, to fend off letters like the above that require copious amounts of my time to deflect.

Look, this is a free country, and I appreciate the fact there are many sensitive, left-leaning writers and readers of PCR, but for crying out loud, lighten up. Vinnie, you're more intent on leaping to a conclusion and calling me a racist (which I'm most assuredly not) than reading what I had written: a satire on urban rap culture (which I loathe) in which the target is Will Smith in particular -- not black culture in general. To suggest satirizing "rap/urban culture" is equivalent to insulting black culture in general, is an affront to all black people, inane, and ludicrous. I noted one N'sPCR writer took the piece for what it was -- a "hysterical" comment on Will Smith being chosen for the role while at the same time parodying the 'rap' sub-culture.

As far as my use of certain words, rappers don't rap in the King's English, in case you hadn't noticed (I can just picture 2 Live Crew rapping with Basil Rathbone's inflections). Nor did you notice my reverence for other black actors (Ken Foree, the late William Marshall, and "THX-1138" star Don Pedro Colley). Conveniently, those things were not in your argument. 'Rap' is rhythmic and lends itself to sanitization.

Did you bust a blood vessel while watching Anthony Michael Hall speak jive in "Weird Science"? Or for that matter Barbara Billingsly in "Airplane!"? What about that Jamie Kennedy movie where he plays a white rapper? Or the Wayans Bros. in "White Chicks"? Have you ever watched an episode of "The Sopranos", where Italians are portrayed stereotypically (I'm 100% Italian & I think the show is great)? Do you go into a panic fit when you watch "Blazing Saddles"? Does "All in the Family" and "The Jeffersons" send you into conniption fits? Yes, Vinnie, people are different, they speak differently and have accents/inflections that lend itself to satire/humor -- don't confuse that instantly with hate - you're smarter than that.

You'll notice I blasted "The Rock" and "Vin Diesel" - two more nauseating "modern action stars" in the satire - they're Caucasian. The point of "Do the I, Robot!" is to complain about the quality of modern sci-fi heroes, who don't measure up to Russell, Ford, and Gibson. If Tony "Candyman" Todd or Denzel Washington played Will Smith's part, I'd be a happy camper, as would other Crazed Fanboys who have the sense to realize that Will Smith is simply not a genre-caliber hero along the lines of Richard Roundtree and Pam Grier.

Listen, Vinnie, you have to realize one thing: I hold '70s and early '80s horror/sci-fi films sacred. Very sacred. For these horror/sci-fi wannabes, like Will Smith, Vin Diesel, Ben "Daredevil" Affleck, etc. to even think they're up to the levels of William Marshall, Cameron Mitchell, Robert Quarry, or Donald Pleasance is insulting to a true-blue Crazed Fanboy. Frankly, I'm shocked as a Crazed Fanboy you concur with Will Smith in particular being chosen for the role. I would be just as outraged if they put 'Eminem' in there. In doing so, you betray the '70s and early/mid '80s and further the disintegration of genre filmmaking. "Do the I, Robot" was a biting commentary on that subject and should be treated as such, not condemned by those who knee-jerk the "racist" insult at people who have the right to express themselves on the subject of media, not race.

- Andy Lalino


KEY WEST BOTANICAL GARDENS RECOGNZIES LA FLORIDIANA

Will,
Thank you so much. I am not sure if you can ever realize what an article likes this means to all our volunteers and donors. (Re: La Floridana, PCR #223.--N)

Please let me know whenever you are in Key West, and please keep in touch via our growing website, Many new things will be added in the coming months to put our special diamond on the map !!!!

The birds, butterflies and trees thank you,

Carolann Sharkey
The Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Gardens

WILL MORIATY RESPONDS
More than happy to help the cause Carolann!

Keep on keeping on!

--Will


KWGC GARDEN CHAIR RECOGNZIES LA FLORIDIANA

Will,
.......I am the Chair of the Gardens at West Martello Tower and really appreciate the kind words you wrote about the gardens. (Re: La Floridana, PCR #223.--N) My small band of volunteers who work there every Monday morning will also appreciate your report.

Do you regularly update your website?
Is it visited by other garden lovers?
I hope to meet you next time you are in Key West.

Once again many thanks for your kind words.

Rosi Ware
KWGC Garden Chair!

WILL MORIATY RESPONDS
Thank you for the kind words Rosi!

Our web site is updated weekly. Hopefully other garden lovers are reading it as I have done a series of articles on Florida's gardens in the following issues - - simply link to the following Archive years by going to the Nolan's Pop Culture Review home page.(http://www.crazedfanboy.com/index.php). Once in the Archives, link to the edition numbers mentioned below:

2002 Archives
Issues 94 and 95: "Florida's Fabulous Gardens"
Issue 130, Book Review, "Historic Landscapes of Florida"
2003 Archives
Issues 180 and 181: "Florida's Gardens Up Close and Personal".

Also, you can link to an interview about me in the garden based web site, "Floridata", a delightful and informative site for any gardener, and further read of my exploits in my tree planting group's website.

Thanks again for a great and memorable tour!

--Will


BRANDON JONES ON MATT'S RAIL

Re: Matt's Rail
Maybe we could combine two really, really bad ideas. Bush's continued spending on foreign policies by cutting into healthcare with this latest bill co-authored by Joe Lieberman: study the effects of the media on children. About $90 million is being spent for researchers to figure out whether kids' favorite TV shows, movies and video games are actually bad for their health.

Why don't we give the children's hospitals the $90 million, have the kids play X-box, watch cartoons and "Shrek" and study the results?

So much for common sense.

Brandon [Jones]


To send an email to Letters to the Editor write to: Crazedfanboy1@aol.com.  Any emails sent to this address will be assumed intended for publication unless you specifically instruct me not to. I can and do respond privately, if that is your preference. Frequently, it's both ways.---Nolan

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