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Catholic League and 'Corpus Christi' A.J. Esta replies: On Ageism

Considering that the Catholic League has often been a critic of the theatre community, it is to the credit of Back Stage that we have been treated so fairly over the years. Until the Oct. 27 edition, that is.

A.J. Esta, in discussing the Terrence McNally play "Corpus Christi," says that "The controversy that surrounded the 1998 New York premiere (including anonymous death and bomb threats) was coordinated by the Catholic League of [sic] Religious and Civil Rights. After having seen 'Corpus Christi,' it would appear that the outrage came from pure homophobia masquerading as pious indignation."

The first sentence gives the reader the impression that there is a link between the death and bomb threats and the work of the Catholic League. That is what is called pure demagoguery—a scare tactic used by cowards who cannot make a coherent argument based on the facts. And while we're at it, too bad Esta didn't comment on the death threats that I got during our protest. But unlike Esta, I would never infer that somehow McNally was responsible for them.

The cheap shot about homophobia shows how dumb Esta is. If this charge were true, it would seem to follow that the Catholic League wouldn't have protested one bit had McNally decided to portray Christ having sex with 12 women. And in order to believe that, the smell of something sweet must be in the air.

William A. Donohue,

President, Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights

New York City

A.J. Esta replies:

In my review of "Corpus Christi," I wrote that the controversy surrounding the 1998 premiere was coordinated by the Catholic League, and among the results of this protest were anonymous death and bomb threats. In my opinion, the real cowards are those who use scare tactics and sensationalism to denigrate a work of art they have obviously not even viewed. In the play, Jesus does not have sex with the 12 disciples—he does not have sex with anyone.

I just read your report on ageism with the Writers Guild and found it very timely. My friends and I have noticed that many TV shows lately are written by what we like to call "duh-heads": the Gen X/Gen Y types.

Now please don't think we are old fogies. We fall right on the cusp of Gen X/Baby Boomers (approx 35-38 years old). We are all huge fans of "The Simpsons" and have been watching them from the beginning. We took a count last season and found at least four episodes where one or more of the characters used the extremely annoying term "my bad." Just another one of the ridiculous terms that 18-24 year olds use to sound "ultra hip and cool." It has now become noticeable in many television shows.

I don't know what it is about marketing people who somehow forget everything they themselves like when trying to market entertainment to "the masses." MTV and radio stations seem to think that you have to be 18-24 years old to watch or listen to them.

I don't know about you, but I didn't buy cardigans and Perry Como CDs the moment I turned 25. I actually know who Green Day and Blink 182 are, believe it or not.

The Hollywood Machine needs to wake up and remember what drew them to the entertainment business to begin with—not just the money, but the type of entertainment that they themselves used to enjoy.

Eric Oswald

Lakewood, Ohio

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