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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

John Waters Berates Baltimore Sun for Reassigning Former SF Weekly Film Critic Michael Sragow

Posted By on Wed, Sep 21, 2011 at 9:00 AM

Don't you Dare take away my local film critic.
  • Don't you Dare take away my local film critic.

John Waters gained fame as a movie maker by exposing archetypical America as stupid and bogus. 

But Waters spoke out earlier this week to praise former SF Weekly critic Michael Sragow using terms incongruous to his typical critique. Waters applauded Sragow for his "well-written and intelligent, humorous, unpretentious take on movies."

During the late 1990s, Sragow was SF Weekly's film critic, having found his footing as staff critic for Rolling Stone and the San Francisco Examiner. Here, he electrified readers with essays such as his 1998 piece "Retouching Evil," which was about the making of Orson Welles' classic Mexican noir film Touching Evil.

He eventually was picked up by the Baltimore Sun, "with much fanfare," as Waters' recalls in a recent letter to the paper. But recently, Waters noticed, Sragow seemed to be fading from the Sun's pages.

According to Waters: "Each month it seems [Sragow's] duties were lessened for reasons that were unfathomable to me, and now even his blog is being discontinued?" 

Indeed on Sept. 12, 2011, Sragow wrote that, "When the summer ends this year, so will my 42-year stint of writing regularly about current movies."  During the last few weeks his writing for the paper has been about books, TV, and local pop-culture events, as if he were some sort of general assignment culture writer. 

That's an odd job to give the man who was, in 1978, brought in by Hearst to cover film for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, who has written about old films for The New Yorker, and has long been considered a national tastemaker. 

By Waters' reckoning, the Sun should keep Sragow as film critic, no matter what it takes.

"I am amazed that The Baltimore Sun is letting Mike Sragow leave his position as main film writer," he wrote in a recent letter to the editor.

"What a stupid editorial decision and one that leaves the filmmaking community in Baltimore impoverished. Give Mr. Sragow back his position as film critic and blogger."
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