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Opinion | Can Movies Survive Changing Times?

To the Editor:

Re “Is This the End of the Movies ?,” by Ross Douthat (column, Sunday Review, March 27):

Why are pundits so eager to write the obituaries of components of our culture that add so many enriching dimensions to our lives? The radio was supposed to kill books; the internet was supposed to kill the newspaper; television was supposed to kill theater; YouTube was supposed to kill television.

All of these joyful, irreplaceable aspects of our culture have survived despite pundits’ best efforts to bury them, and so too will the movies. Like the novel, the newspaper, the play and television, the movies will survive. What will change is how we experience them.

Daniel Ross Goodman
Longmeadow, Mass.
The writer is a movie critic for The Washington Examiner and the author of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow: Wonder and Religion in American Cinema.”

To the Editor:

I haven’t been to a movie in a theater for more than 20 years, way before Covid. Why? The interminable ads, the stink of fake butter on popcorn, the seats, the peering between people taller than me. Most of all, the ridiculously loud sound levels.

About 10 years ago, I bought a quite expensive projector, a seven-foot-wide pull-down screen, an audio-video receiver and six good loudspeakers. Since then, we can happily stream movies from the usual websites or public library, and we can rent or buy DVDs.

So why go to a movie theater at all? Case closed.

Jolyon Jesty
Mount Sinai, NY

To the Editor:

When smart journalists predict the end of movies, they really mean that movies are shifting in size, format, content, revenue and platform.

My only quibble with Ross Douthat’s terrific piece is his use of the alarmist “End of the Movies.” Movies have survived every new technology from sound to the web over more than a century.

If anything has ended, it’s the primacy of movies as customers’ first choice. The iPhone introduced an intimate way to watch movies, but also brought a numbing variety of competing content, stealing hours away from movie theater attendance.

The movie business will evolve and flourish as executives, representatives and talent survive this disruptive period, the one-two punch of streaming and Covid. For consumers indifferent to screen size, there have never been more choices. For talent, there has never been more work, worldwide. This is an unbeatable combination.

Jason E. Squire
Los Angeles
The writer is professor emeritus at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and editor of “The Movie Business Book.”

To the Editor:

I was waiting for someone somewhere to sound the death knell. And Ross Douthat did it masterfully. I was not waiting joyfully, of course.

I grew up with Roy Rogers and Gene Autry Saturday matinees. The nearly all-day event (which could not have set my folks back more than a buck) gave me entree to the adult world, fantasy, music, news, comedy. TV didn’t really compete for a while. And then it did. And then the movies didn’t seem like the “must see” they had been.

It’s been a long time coming, but didn’t the industry dig its own grave with overblown, overly long, pretentious films that started to feel missable?

This is coming from a movie lover who searches for one more black and white film noir that she may have missed from the 1930s, ’40s or’ 50s most nights. And when she finds one, it’s viewed in less than two hours. That’s a selling point!

Frances Sheridan Goulart
Ridgefield, Conn.

To the Editor:

Re “Election Texts Shine New Light on Clout Held by Justice’s Wife” (front page, March 27):

Chief Justice John Roberts can no longer hide. The Supreme Court’s rotting reputation has accelerated in recent days, with the unsigned, commentless decisions giving way to news about an associate justice, Clarence Thomas, whose ethical conduct is deservedly under intense scrutiny.

We expect supreme integrity from the court. We need it, but we’re not getting it.

Chief Justice Roberts needs to impose controls, and he needs to make them loud and clear so the country understands that it can once again trust the court. For those justices who can’t live under a strict code of ethics, exit stage right.

Honesty. Honestly, that’s not a lot to ask.

Jay Margolis
Delray Beach, Fla.

To the Editor:

Re “Florida Governor Signs Bill Fought by LGBTQ Groups, White House and Hollywood” (news article, March 29):

When I (now 73) was in elementary school, my school assigned censored editions of Shakespeare with the “dirty” bits omitted. The first thing we did was to get unedited editions from libraries and older siblings so we could compare the editions and find the censored bits. I honestly don’t remember how much time I spent on the “clean” parts.

At great harm to the ability of teachers and educators to help children navigate the increasingly complex and frightening territory of modern identity, social life, medicine and, yes, sexuality, legislatures like Florida’s are sending kids straight to less reliable but ever-present sources of information about these topics, censoring teachers and purging school libraries and curriculums.

Young people without ready access to alternative information sources are being sent straight into the waiting rooms of school counselors, who are legislatively muzzled and thus largely unable to help them.

How dare legislators (with the false claim that they are aiding children and parents) send us all back to the Middle Ages?

Carlin Meyer
Palenville, NY
The writer is professor emerita at New York Law School.

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