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Dear Susan and  Mira,

Congratulations on the relaunch of M/E/A/N/I/N/G.

The problem of  "resistance" and cooptation is (i think) even more acute. This year, for  example, had been one of the best year for movies in a long time (that is, for almost everyone, with a few exceptions). Making up a Ten Best list  wasn't hard; what was hard was limiting it to 10! You could have had a list  of Ten Best movies that were all from Asia; you could have had a Ten Best  list that had mostly movies from the Middle East; you could have had a Ten  Best list filled with American "independent" films. And you could have had a Ten Best list of only gay/lesbian/transgender movies! (To check out my Ten  Best list as of Dec. 13, which was the deadline to hand it in, you can go to: http://www.villagevoice.com/take/seven and check out the list of critics.) Actually, i saw a few movies after Dec.  13 which could qualify; Jim Hoberman listed his Top Ten, then his Second Ten  (with comments) and then his Third Ten! Just in terms of "gay" movies, Brokeback Mountain has gotten a lot of (positive) attention in many of the  critics' awards so far, and it's been on many people's Top Ten (it even  broke through in the Village Voice poll), and it's actually doing very well  at the box office. The reason i mention the oddity of its breaking into the  Village Voice poll is that it's such a "mainstream" film, and that's the  point. Brokeback Mountain is a very traditional, mainstream movie with a gay  theme. More than a decade ago, "New Queer Cinema" was the "cutting edge" in  the independent film world, and now, it's been domesticated. (Even Gregg  Araki, one of the most extreme of the New Queer Cinema artists, came up with  Mysterious Skin, which was more "mainstream" than anything he's ever done.) 

So what is an "alternative" culture, when so much of it is now  mainstream?

And the other  big issue... there's a moment in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, when Mary has  been dating a younger man, and she and Rhoda go to a party given by the  young man and his roommates.... and a 50s ballad comes on (i think it's  "Earth Angel"), and Rhoda starts snapping her fingers, and then she looks  around at all the 20-somethings at the party, and she says to Mary, "Our youth is their nostalgia!" And that's exactly what's happening now. (Christopher Durang once said, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show... there's a scene  in it that's prefect for any occasion!")

So many  exhibitions (on Monday, the Grey Art Gallery is doing "The Downtown Show")  are now trading on this nostalgia (for the East Village scene, for Warhol's  Factory, etc.) and so that's another form of cooptation.

So it'll be  interesting to see how we all try to help launch a genuine "critique". 

So congratulations!

Daryl Chin
January 8, 2006