Re City Lights, March 8-14:
Your descriptions of community activists made me cringe. It also made me ask the same question of the Washington City Paper that some in the press have asked of the Islamic world, post-Sept. 11: Oh, why do they hate us?
In previewing a film festival on the overuse of prisons and policing in D.C. and the United States, Brian Montopoli writes: “[L]efties are different, and I want to believe in their cause. It’s just that the hemp necklaces, giant puppets, and grammatically questionable chanting make me want to go home, put on some fur, and engage in the conspicuous consumption of mass-produced, multinational product….It’s a good cause and, if you’re willing to take a little righteous indignation with your mind-broadening experience…”
In another preview in the same issue, about a film festival highlighting the environmental damage to our region, Tricia Olszewski writes: “When some people—OK, me—hear the word ‘environmental,’ they immediately think ‘snooze.’ So as I perused the catalog for this year’s 10th Environmental Film Festival, I expected nothing but cinematic sermons on why everyone should recycle, give up her car, and hug trees…”
Come on: Twice, in the same issue, in the same section? Come on!
If your reviewers need something interesting to write about, how about noting that one of the sites for the environmental film festival is Anacostia: a place that, due to environmental racism, alternates bimonthly battles with the city against the citing of incinerators, prisons, and landfills? Doesn’t that meet your sarcasm quota?
In the review of the film festival on prisons and police abuse, you could have noted that students and youth at the venue (the Maya Angelou School) have been subject to police harassment. That’s kind of interesting and ironic, isn’t it?
Instead, the writers and editors at the City Paper nod off at the mere mention of the environment and fear the “righteous indignation” of giant puppets.
This city desperately needs an alternatively weekly to report on the huge stories that the Washington Post and NPR miss as they scramble to look “national,” and present this community as it really is. I’m sure that can happen, with the City Paper projecting the same lazy cliches over and over. Those repetitive cliche#s—which are a sign of either writers who don’t know their own city or lazy editors who don’t read their own paper—do more to blur reality than tell us what is really going on in D.C.