A little over a month ago I passed along the news via Matt Zoller Seitz in the New York Press about the firing of critic Charles Taylor from Salon magazine. I was fortunate enough to correspond with Taylor and wish him well, but at this writing I'm unaware if he's found another place from which to write his challenging, acerbic, thoughtful criticism. I and others who have long appreciated the work Taylor did for Salon continue to hope for brighter days for him in the immediate future, not least because his is a quality of voice and spirit that is fast becoming rare and endangered in American film culture.
To this end, Ed Gonzalez of Slant magazine has posted a levelheaded, yet nonetheless enraging article which considers the Taylor firing in light of the recent controversy over "critic" Rex Reed and racially and culturally insensitive remarks regarding the South Korean film Oldboy made in his New York Observer column "On the Town." Read Gonzalez' detailing of "The Crime of Monsieur Reed" for yourself, and then check out Dennis Lim and Ed Park's brief but damning chronicle of other disturbingly similar insults Reed has perpetrated in his column.
The big questions Gonzalez raises are, why is there room for Reed's bitchy, elitist ravings at the Observer, yet still apparently no place suitable for Taylor's brand of serious film criticism? Do Reed's editors think what he's saying is just fine in the year 2005? Are they simply ignorant? Or does Reed hold more sway over his content than even his bosses? However these questions are answered, Gonzalez makes it clear that Rex Reed and those who allow him to spew this kind of horseshit should be held accountable. The day is long past (if there ever was such a day) when Rex Reed's opinion on movies ever carried any weight; his rancid bigotry, however, begs to be taken far more seriously than Reed ever took the practice of the art of film criticism.
Update 4/23 12:01am: Thom, Alison, and everyone, here's more on Rex Reed and his bizarre food&film thing. I've now officially got the creeps...