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Letters from October 11, 2000

An Epistolary Girlfight

We were listening up until "castration": How threatened Gregory Weinkauf must be to use "castration" in the very first sentence of his review of Karyn Kusama's beautiful film, Girlfight ("Gender Bent," Film, Sept. 27). He obviously missed a lot, but then Kusama's film is complex, full of reversals, parallels, ironies. First and foremost, it's a boxing film, but it's also a coming-of-age film (think 400 Blows) and, yes, a romance, and even a ghost story if you look closely. It's also really gorgeous and sad and funny. Much too complex for a sloppy critic -- the film is pointedly set in Brooklyn, not New Jersey. Too bad for him, to have missed the joy that finally flickers across Diana's deep sullenness, and to have missed the irony of a black eye received in the ring instead of a kitchen or of Adrian ordering "just a salad with dressing on the side." Perhaps if Weinkauf weren't so afraid of losing his balls he would be able to focus on what he gets paid for: to recognize a really good film when it hits him in the face.

Terri McFarland
Potrero Hill

Till then, more stupid reviews on Page 62: I am anxiously waiting for the time when pundits start proclaiming a "post- gender" world. Then, I hope, I won't have to read stupid reviews like Gregory Weinkauf's. Although he is energized "to see women finding new power" (a mere pat on the head), really women should keep their place and quit encroaching on "male domains" (is nothing, includ-ing violence, sacred?).

The value of this film is in presenting another type of woman, unafraid to speak her mind or take action and willing to encroach on "male territory" to meet her needs. Women are increasingly unwilling to play second fiddle to a man who needs to "feel like a man." This film also portrays a good man in Adrian (among other male characters), someone who is honest with himself and others, does not think he has all the answers, and values a woman with a similar background and interests, connecting in a deeper way, over the "gorgeous girly girl." He treats women as they want -- seriously as equal allies and, yes, when appropriate, as worthy and equal opponents.

Allegra Fortunati
Hayes Valley

Invasion of the Suburbanites

Just be still, maybe they'll go away: I disagree that San Franciscans, or at least very many of them, want a return to the past as described by Herb Caen ("Past Imperfect," Matt Smith, Sept. 13). I do, on the other hand, feel that most true San Franciscans are thoroughly disgusted with a present that includes the relentless transformation of their city into a suburb of Greater Fisherman's Wharf.

Big-money interests have transformed San Francisco into a "destination" for recreational eaters and recreational shoppers from around the world. The effect on the quality of life in San Francisco has been disastrous; we now find ourselves increasingly displaced by those whose sole definition of merit, and whose sole justification for being alive, is the wherewithal to buy something.

San Francisco is being suburbanized by former suburbanites who no longer find sufficient status in living in the superficial and plastic suburbia they made; their next big consumer purchase is an urban lifestyle, albeit one designed to minimize the risk of any disquieting encounters with different belief systems or, heaven forbid, the lower economic strata.

Riley B. VanDyke
Lower Nob Hill


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