Letters

Letters 05-02-2016

Facts About Trails I would like to correct some misinformation provided in Kristi Kates’ article about the Shore-to-Shore Trail in your April 18 issue. The Shore-to-Shore Trail is not the longest continuous trail in the Lower Peninsula. That honor belongs to the North Country Trail (NCT), which stretches for over 400 miles in the Lower Peninsula. In fact, 100 miles of the NCT is within a 30-minute drive of Traverse City, and is maintained by the Grand Traverse Hiking Club...

North Korea Is Bluffing I eagerly read Jack Segal’s columns and attend his lectures whenever possible. However, I think his April 24th column falls into an all too common trap. He casually refers to a nuclear-armed North Korea when there is no proof whatever that North Korea has any such weapons. Sure, they have set off some underground explosions but so what? Tonga could do that. Every nuclear-armed country on Earth has carried out at least one aboveground test, just to prove they could do it if for no other reason. All we have is North Korea’s word for their supposed capabilities, which is no proof at all...

Double Dipping? In Greg Shy’s recent letter, he indicated that his Social Security benefit was being unfairly reduced simply due to the fact that he worked for the government. Somehow I think something is missing here. As I read it this law is only for those who worked for the government and are getting a pension from us generous taxpayers. Now Greg wants his pension and he also wants a full measure of Social Security benefits even though he did not pay into Social Security...

Critical Thinking Needed Our media gives ample coverage to some presidential candidates calling each other a liar and a sleaze bag. While entertaining to some, this certainly should lower one’s respect for either candidate. This race to the bottom comes as no surprise given their lack of respect for the rigors of critical thinking. The world’s esteemed scientists take great steps to preserve the integrity of their findings. Not only are their findings peer reviewed by fellow experts in their specialty, whenever possible the findings are cross-checked by independent studies...

Home · Articles · News · Random Thoughts · A hype-free zone
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A hype-free zone

Robert Downes - July 28th, 2008
Just about everyone knows the famous “Peanuts” cartoon where Lucy is holding a football in position for Charlie Brown to deliver the kick-off. Charlie fears that Lucy will pull the ball away, just like she has 100 times before -- but Lucy promises that she won’t -- she’ll let him make the kick. Sure enough, Charlie Brown tries to kick the ball and winds up flat on his back because Lucy has jerked it away at the last second.
That’s pretty much my experience with summer blockbuster films. I’m a Charlie Brown-style sucker for the hype and get all revved up to see some movie that is praised to the skies, only to end up flat on my back, wondering where my $8.50 went...
Oh, you too?
This summer’s stinker was Indiana Jones and the Crystal Numbskulls. Deep inside, I knew that this was going to be a cruddy, unbelievable film, on par with Indy’s awful Temple of Doom flick in 1984, but I took the bait. Midway through the film, a little voice in my head started whispering: “You lose again, sucker.”
Once upon a time, film hype actually had some value and even a kernel of truth. Jaws and Star Wars were heavily-hyped films in the late ‘70s, as were E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind in the ‘80s, but these films actually delivered the goods. I recall not wanting to see Jaws, but was drawn in by the hype and was pleasantly surprised by its aquatic thrill-ride.
But then Hollywood went overboard and started hyping every film, no matter how bad. Rocky was a great film -- but all of its ancestors were bums. I started realizing I’d been had by the hype about the time Dick Tracy came out in 1990 (in which the only memorable moment was Madonna as Breathless Mahoney, singing “Hankie-Spankie,” by the way).
Some major bombs that were over-hyped in recent years: 1998’s Godzilla remake (ho-hum), every Star Wars sequel since the ‘80s, Superman Returns, the first X-Files film from 1998, about half of the Batman flicks... You swallow the hype and then exit the theater feeling ripped off, with your time wasted.
But back to the future. Even the films that are pretty good, like this summer’s Ironman, are hyped beyond reason. Is Ironman a four-star film in the same sense as Casablanca or Gone With the Wind? It‘s a good film, but you wouldn‘t be any more “moved“ by it than you would by reading the comic book.
Even if a mainstream film isn‘t hyped to the sky, you can‘t always trust the reviews. Is Get Smart really a three-and-a-half star film, as rated by our own film critic Roger Ebert? Really? I gave it a solid “two,” but then I slept through half of it...
And after reading endless rave reviews of Heath Ledger’s “performance-of-the-century“ as The Joker in The Dark Knight, I feel hypnotized by the hype to go see the film, even though I fear getting bat-whacked once again by a false promise.
Maybe that’s why so many of us love the Traverse City Film Festival -- because it’s a hype-free zone. All we’re promised is that these are scrappy, independent films that may even look a little homemade and are unlikely to ever appear at the mall megaplex.
Some of the directors have chips on their shoulders the size of aircraft carriers (which tends to produce interesting results) and are into subjects that are as exotic as, well... the orphans of Malawi, or life at a base in Antarctica, or going to high school in Baghdad, or what it’s like to be an illegal immigrant trying to make it in America. And who would ever think of making a film about the Helvetica typeface?
In short, the Film Festival offers surprising, edgy stuff that’s nearly impossible to lacquer with the veneer of Hollywood hype. We go to a Film Festival movie without any expectations beyond a tantalizing sense of mystery over what we may find and come out illuminated. And even when half the crowd hates the film, they can’t stop talking about it. That’s the kind of community buzz the hypemasters of Hollywood will never be able to manufacture.
Hey, see you at the Film Festival.
 
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