Letters to the Editor

By Letters from Readers

Concerning the article entitled “Homophobia at U of C Elimidate” (4/16/04), I have a number of concerns with the depiction of the event by Anne Parsons. While I concede to Parsons my own frustration with the remarks made at the event, I feel that she did not direct her frustration most appropriately. As I was the evening’s main organizer, I obviously feel a great level of responsibility for what went on that evening, and owing to this, I have to say that reading the article, I felt great blame for what occurred. I do not believe this is a fair sentiment. As an audience member, I too was concerned with what was being said, but as was pointed out by Parsons, beyond politely asking people to be respectful, what can one do? While it is wholly disturbing that people would shout out inappropriate comments concerning sexual preference, this is their own choice. If the previous comment sounds defeatist, it is. Yes, it affected the tone of the event, and the overall mood in general, and as disrespectful as this is to the audience, how do you think it affected all those who spent innumerable hours getting this production up? Again, I find it extremely frustrating that those who chose to interrupt the screening with their insensitive remarks did not consider those who might be affected by such commentary in the audience. However, Parsons should perhaps consider that those who donated so much of their time to this fundraiser were equally alarmed. The casting attempted to display a variety of U of C types, and there was never a desire to cast such that the screening would be an arena of homophobic remarks.

The one issue on which I see it necessary to defend myself is Parsons’s suggestion that the “gay date” needed to be staged. This was not the case. Rather, the contestants on that date, who are all friends, decided to have some fun and play-up the ridiculousness of the whole evening; after all, they were filming an episode of “U of C Eliminate Your Date.” As each male contestant on that date was indeed homosexual, they thought that playing into the humorous aspect of the numerous stereotypes they encounter would provide insight into just how unreasonable these stereotypes are in the first place. In playing along with the tone of the date, the female contestant similarly chose to play-up the theatrics. While the end effect seemed appropriately staged, it must be noted that this was a desired effect.

In conclusion, while I understand Parsons’s frustration, choosing to solely focus on this one aspect of the event left a large amount of the people involved very frustrated. For all those who gave so much (Fire Escape, Jon Cowperthwait, Order of the C, Rush Atkinson, Maya Bodinger, and all the other numerous contestants, editors, cameramen, etc.), I apologize that there was such little appreciation for your work. Your work was invaluable to both me and Camp Laurel.

Claire Baldwin


U of C Eliminate Your Date

If I had left at the end of the third act of the U of C version of Elimidate, shown Wednesday at Doc Films, this would have been a letter of congratulations to Fire Escape for a funny, irreverent, and at times even touching version of the WB dating show. But I didn’t leave, and a few minutes into the fourth segment I wanted to join the steady trickle of students who did.

I had two main problems with the act, and neither of them was that it was three guys (and a girl) competing for another guy. I thought it would have been awesome if Fire Escape had included a gay cast—something rarely seen on current dating shows—if they had treated that cast in the same way they treated the previous three. This was problem number one. The first three segments seemed fairly genuine, the filmmakers generally letting the cast loose with mostly comic results, made funnier by the fact that those crazy kids on screen were our friends and classmates. Act four, on the other hand, was immediately and obviously staged, with fake, overdone, stereotypical characters that were caricatures and not the people we see walking around the quads. The storyline was painfully predictable and the skit just wasn’t particularly funny.

But it was trying to be, and this leads me to problem number two. I know that the show promised at the outset to offend pretty much everyone. I’m not terribly concerned with being politically correct and I can appreciate a certain amount of offensiveness for the sake of comedy: like the rest of the theater, I laughed at the “brown sugar” comment and the tampon joke. But comedy grows up with the rest of us and I think we’ve moved beyond the point where homosexuality itself has to be a joke every time it comes up. Some of the people who walked out of the theater probably did so because they didn’t want to see a gay Elimidate, and others cat-called gay slurs that went right along with the content of the skit. Fire Escape isn’t responsible for homophobia at the University of Chicago and I’m neither blaming them for these intolerant and intolerable actions nor acquitting the guilty audience members. But the skit didn’t do anything to dissuade these actions; instead, it featured characters that were cardboard cutouts tidily summed up as “Mr. Fister” or “Confused Christian” or “PLUR,” invulnerable because they weren’t real and easy to attack because we didn’t know them.

Maybe the segment didn’t do any damage; I don’t think it introduced any themes that haven’t been played out over and over in sitcoms, stand-up routines, and other comic forums. But it also certainly didn’t challenge any of the many tired stereotypes it employed. If the response is that it wasn’t meant to, that it was meant to make people laugh, I can only reply that I believe the people involved are talented enough that the skit could and perhaps should have stepped outside of those lines. I bet there would have been a lot more laughter if it had.

Lindsay Atnip

Student Government elections

We, the Elections and Rules Committee of Student Government, were disappointed by the publishing of the article entitled “Despite Restraint, SGFC Spends Over $240,000” by Robert Katz on Tuesday, April 13, 2004. Not perturbed by or even tempted to comment on the critique of SGFC, we were specifically despondent to read the article’s unofficial mentioning and free advertising of a slate that is running for the current student government elections. By publishing an unsolicited pre-campaign advertisement for a certain slate, you have not only caused a slate to get monetarily sanctioned, but you also set the harsh tone that will penetrate student government elections this year. It was a not only irresponsible but also completely uninformed decision that gave free “airtime” to a slate before campaigning officially began, without at least being aware of the rules of the student government elections. As a result, this article has unfairly disadvantaged other slates in getting the word out earlier about their candidacy. Whether the candidates knew what they were doing or not when speaking to you is of no relevance. The effect stands the same—you have supported and given increased awareness to that particular slate. The Maroon’s inability to inform itself of the rules and regulations of the very subjects it writes about marks its inability to understand the politics of the University of Chicago. We would like to have this serve not as a warning, but rather as an invitation to the Maroon to keep closer contact with student government so that it may reeducate itself on the elections and rules of student government candidacy and in the future not advantage one slate over another. We call the Maroon to, furthermore, get appraised of the rules by looking online at sg.uchicago.edu under the rules and elections committee.

Rules and Elections Committee

of the Student Government

Katie Hui, Tom Weirich, Teresa Lemieux,

Adam Wesolowski, Yi Zheng,

Miriam Freedman