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Letter to The New Yorker

September 29, 2002

The New Yorker
Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor:

Oh, dear. And I was so looking forward to the New Yorker review of "Secretary." I was anticipating a thoughtful, informed, actual review of the actual movie; and what does Mr. Denby go and do but write a half-paragraph cheap slap at consensual sadomasochism.

I will admit that I'm puzzled by his review as much as I am disappointed. How, precisely, is he defining "feminism" when he describes an attitude towards sexuality of "If that's what makes you happy, you go, girl" as anti-feminist? And I'm very confused when he uses the word "pornographic" to describe the idea that pain might, for some people, be liberation. Is he saying that any artistic exploration of S/M is pornographic, or just the ones that don't condemn the practice? (Not that I object to pornography -- I just don't think the word describes "Secretary" very well.)

Now, if Mr. Denby simply hadn't liked the movie, I wouldn't be bothering to write. I'm a film critic myself, and I'm keenly aware of how absurd it is to send peevish letters to the editor because a reviewer dissed a movie that you're fond of. But Mr. Denby didn't dis "Secretary." He didn't really say anything about "Secretary." He used his review of it as a chance to say catty things about sadomasochists. I'm very disappointed indeed.

Greta Christina

Postscript: The New Yorker never ran this letter. Ratbags.

Copyright 2002 Greta Christina.


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