Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

I would direct readers to Seymour Friendly's concise and well-written letter herein, written in response to Akiva Gottlieb's highly misconceived attack on Mr. Eastwood.

I'm a progressive and socialist and pacifist, and somehow I find Clint Eastwood's recent film completely wonderful, and coherent with values that I hold near and dear. Maybe if Akiva Gottlieb left his preconceived and fixed notions about this actor/director at the door of the cinema and considered the art of storytelling and irony, he could see past the superficial layers of this film, to the messages lying in the artist's craft, in the deeper layers of character and plot. Sadly, when a person has such strong and negative preset theories about an artist and his work, compounded by an ill-informed fact base and lack of cinematic insight, as does Akiva Gottlieb, this is highly unlikely.

I'm just hoping that Clint Eastwood doesn't have to read and suffer this rather poor excuse for film criticism and analysis.

One serious question still plagues me, and it is this: Is The Nation so poorly edited as to select this article, from among all other film-writing possibilities, for publication? Please, exercise more skill in this regard in the future!

Justin Case

Eugene, OR

May 18 2009 - 9:08am

Web Letter

The writer of this article is obviously a moral relativist. We live in a world where it is no longer possible to to say that something is wrong or someone is bad unless it is the opinion of a leftist about things that the majority of the country still considers fundamental morality. The writer is appalled that so many people find Eastwood's black-and-white view of good and evil to be in line with their own. He thinks they are the problem, but he and his ilk are the engine driving the country into the abyss.

Gabe Pompe

Shrub Oak, NY

May 18 2009 - 7:50am

Web Letter

For an article that is ostensibly about Clint Eastwood as an auteur and an icon, the author completely fails to engage with almost all of Eastwood's work as a director, including Flags of Our Fathers, Letters from Iwo Jima and Million-Dollar Baby, all major-studio releases within the past five years. I have to second Mr. Friendly's assertion that this article fails comprehensively to grasp the nuance/complexity of Clint Eastwood's talents as a filmmaker. I would have hoped for more thoughtful criticism from The Nation, instead of ill-informed posturing that appears to hold Clint Eastwood responsible for cultural conservatism as a phenomenon.

Pete Beatty

Brooklyn, NY

May 17 2009 - 11:52am

Web Letter

I suspect Natty Bumppo and Rowdy Yates are there on the lawn with Mr. Eastwood.

Frank Johnston

Grand Falls, NB, Canada

May 15 2009 - 11:23am

Web Letter

Akiva Gottlieb said this about Clint Eastwood "He has publicly reduced his political credo to "everyone leaves everyone else alone." That philosophy is a reason to become a hermit. It's a reason to vote for regressive taxation and Second Amendment rights. It's not a reason to make movies."

Excuse me? Not a reason to make a movie?

What is a reason to make a movie!

Is the only reason to make a movie because someone wants to promote a radical left-wing agenda, in which the bad guys magically transform when hearing "give peace a chance"?

Look, in reality, many violent predators aren't detterred by peace & love!

The radical left claims that any thought on "getting tough on crime" = racist Republican agenda! Nonsense.

The reality is that 99 percent of the victims of non-white predators are themselves non-white! Do you really believe that an average non-white wants to live next door to violent predator of the same race? No, many non-whites are tempted to become the non-white version of Dirty Harry!

I wonder how many lefty film critics have ever been victims of violent crime? They are an extremely sheltered bunch!

The philosophy of "Everyone leave everyone else alone" is a great reason to make a movie!!!!

Not every movie has to be an Oliver Stone-type flick!

Pablo Wegesend

Honolulu, HI

May 14 2009 - 10:28pm

Web Letter

Akiva Gottlieb's writing on Clint Eastwood is off-base, and seems to reflect a lack of knowledge about Eastwood himself, and his works as well. Two examples immediately visible in the writing are Gottlieb's statement that Eastwood missed the Summer of Love, etc., followed by the characterization of Gran Torino as yet another macho cliché film like some of Eastwood's earlier works.

In correction: Eastwood missed the Summer of Love and San Francisco Bohemia because Eastwood was not, like the hippies, in his late teens or early twenties around 1969. Clint Eastwood is a Korean War veteran. His media career began in television before color TV existed, and his first films emerged before the Summer of Love, when he was 30 or over. In other words, one would could not claim that Eastwood somehow missed out on the Bay Area craziness of 1969, because frankly he was far too old at that point to hang out with the kids at Grateful Dead shows.

Second, Gran Torino, the film. Gottlieb may be a fine political thinker, but Gottlieb definitely has no sense of nuance in film. Gran Torino repeatedly mocks Eastwood's macho actor image, deliberately, in scene after scene. And far from being ready to "shoot a hole in any son of a bitch," as Gottlieb writes, Eastwood's character in Gran Torino dies without ever firing a shot, in an act of self-sacrifice intended to simultaneously atone for a (Korean) wartime killing Eastwood's character committed and has been tortured by ever since, while saving an immigrant family from gang violence.

Finally, I'd like to point out to Gottlieb that the characters who define the Eastwood-as-actor mythos did not come from Dirty Harry but from the substantially earlier spaghetti westerns made in Italy and Spain, or even his earlier character on Rawhide.

Certainly Eastwood has been more heralded for Play Misty for Me, which had nothing to do with cowbow or cop violence.

It's fine to hate Eastwood because he is both legendary and his characters have macho traits, and his films frequently have violence. But the critic of Eastwood and/or his career should at least try to know basic facts about Eastwood, such as what generation he is a part of, and at least try to have a deeper appreciation of his films, some of which are blandly commercial and fluff, some of which are genuine artistic achievements.

Seymour Friendly

Seattle, WA

May 14 2009 - 5:34pm

Before commenting, please read our Community Guidelines.