Earlier this week, the perpetually entertaining film critic Roger Ebert (fast fact: Roger Ebert, a true hometown hero, has a good word for pretty much every movie that was ever filmed in Chicago) posted a very long, very discursive story from a film critic in Buffalo named Michael Calleri, who felt compelled — compelled, I say! — to give an exceedingly thorough account of how his misogynistic former editor at the weekly Niagara Falls Reporter essentially tried to stop him from reviewing movies featuring strong female leads, movies, for example, like Snow White and the Huntsman.
Even in its currently bloated form — Calleri's detailed history of the Reporter's editorial dissolution could very easily have been written by Edward Gibbon — the story is compelling and bizarre, the basis for any good yarn, whether fictitious or otherwise. Calleri is not going to just dump us without a compass into the middle of his editor's mephitic marsh of an imagination — we're going to get the entire Decline and Fall of the Niagara Falls Reporter, from its glory days under "true iconoclast" warrior-poet Mike Hudson, to its eventual corruption under a narcissistic dude dreaming of times when men were men, women were indentured servants, and Greece was several squabbling city states. Or something like that. It's easy to get lost in Calleri's tale because so much of it is personal and superfluous, but, for our purposes, we should drop in on the story right about here, the moment when Calleri (who was in Paris at the time) realizes that his reviews are no longer appearing in the Reporter's print version:
But the single most important thing to me was writing my movie reviews. I believed that I was being censored, and I needed to know why.
I emailed the owner again asking for guidance. Why were some reviews making it onto the web and not others? I got my answer in the form of an email that is so shocking, it seems to come from another galaxy, an evil one. What dark void produced what you are about to read is anyone's guess. What causes a male human being to so rigidly hate the opposite sex that he fears not only the power of women, but also the power of movies.
The new editor-publisher wanted to approve the movies I reviewed, which had never happened before. Worse, there would be a litmus test. If the movie featured strong or empowered women, I would not be allowed to write about that film. I checked my calendar. No, I hadn't traveled back in time. It wasn't the tenth century, it was still 2012. Relieved about the date, I asked him if he was serious. He was.
After a few more prefatory paragraphs, Calleri finally gets to the Tootsie Roll gob we've been waiting on tenterhooks for: the full email from his former editor. It is a sublime voyage through one man's inveterate misogyny. It is outrageous. It is hilarious. Most importantly, though, at least according to Calleri, it is a 100 percent real thing that one person wrote to another. Here we go:
Below is the email I received, exactly as written. It came after a series of phone calls and emails in which I was seeking answers. The initial email in this series was sent by me with the subject line: "Actually, I need direction for Saturday." The spelling and spacing and punctuation are exactly as written to me by the publisher. In his email, he references the films "Snow White And The Huntsman" and "Headhunters," which he calls "Headhunter." Here's the email:
Michael; I know you are committed to writing your reviews, and put a lot of effort into them. it is important for you to have the right publisher. i may not be it. i have a deep moral objection to publishing reviews of films that offend me. snow white and the huntsman is such a film. when my boys were young i would never have allowed them to go to such a film for i believe it would injure their developing manhood. if i would not let my own sons see it, why would i want to publish anything about it?
snow white and the huntsman is trash. moral garbage. a lot of fuzzy feminist thinking and pandering to creepy hollywood mores produced by metrosexual imbeciles.
I don't want to publish reviews of films where women are alpha and men are beta.
where women are heroes and villains and men are just lesser versions or shadows of females.
i believe in manliness.
not even on the web would i want to attach my name to snow white and the huntsman except to deconstruct its moral rot and its appeal to unmanly perfidious creeps.
i'm not sure what headhunter has to offer either but of what I read about it it sounds kind of creepy and morally repugnant.
with all the publications in the world who glorify what i find offensive, it should not be hard for you to publish your reviews with any number of these.
they seem to like critiques from an artistic standpoint without a word about the moral turpitude seeping into the consciousness of young people who go to watch such things as snow white and get indoctrinated to the hollywood agenda of glorifying degenerate power women and promoting as natural the weakling, hyena -like men, cum eunuchs.
the male as lesser in courage strength and power than the female.
it may be ok for some but it is not my kind of manliness.
If you care to write reviews where men act like good strong men and have a heroic inspiring influence on young people to build up their character (if there are such movies being made) i will be glad to publish these.
i am not interested in supporting the reversing of traditional gender roles.
i don't want to associate the Niagara Falls Reporter with the trash of Hollywood and their ilk.
it is my opinion that hollywood has robbed america of its manliness and made us a nation of eunuchs who lacking all manliness welcome in the coming police state.
now i realize that you have a relationship with the studios etc. and i would have been glad to have discussed this in person with you to help you segue into another relationship with a publication but inasmuch as we spent 50 minutes on the phone from paris i did not want to take up more of your time.
In short i don't care to publish reviews of films that offend me.
if you care to condemn the filmmakers as the pandering weasels that they are.... true hyenas.
i would be interested in that....
Of course, all of this makes total sense if you're an avid Joyce Carol Oates reader — Niagara Falls drives people batshit crazy, or maybe just brings out the latent crazy in them.
Reactionary men who fear and hate strong women [Sun-Times]