Comments: Week of February 6, 2012

1. From the evidence of the readers of John Heilemann’s column about the organization Americans Elect (“The Third-Party Rail,” January 30), there is considerable interest in a third-party candidacy for president. “This was one of the most enlightening articles I have read about what Americans Elect is trying to accomplish,” wrote one commenter. “I believe we have a much better chance of cooperation if the voters were to send a clear message to Congress by electing the Americans Elect bipartisan candidates. The whole political process in this country is about to change.” “I quite agree that the timing is tempting for Americans Elect to proceed with a third-party platform,” another wrote, but then added: “The list of possible [Americans Elect] candidates is not encouraging, and any politician, however minor, who is part of the ticket will already have been labeled in the public eye. So unless a white knight of unknown lineage comes to the rescue, it sounds like more of the same with less transparency.” Former New York Times public editor Daniel Okrent wrote in with a more pragmatic concern: “Heilemann skips past the thorniest aspect of a strong third-party candidacy: If no candidate gets a majority of electoral votes, which could happen if the third party wins just one state, the winner would be determined by state-by-state voting in the House of Representatives, with Wyoming getting the same number of votes as California. Hello, Republican president!”

2. Gavin Polone’s screed against the Academy Awards dog-and-pony show (“The Oscar Farce,” January 30) prompted debate among culturehounds around the Internet. “This is one of those articles so packed with potent good sense it’s hard not to import the whole thing,” wrote Ryan Adams at Awards Daily. “Polone’s article is politically spot-on!” applauded reader Lois Cahall. “Nobody is more exhausted, bored, in need of a nap, a good pee, and a cold drink than a nominee. And by the time they get a nomination, the artist has already moved on to their next project. The money would be better spent in ways more beneficial to all that is Hollywood.” But the acclaim was hardly universal. “I disagree,” argued a commenter on “Great, smaller dramas really do get helped by the prestige Oscar brings.” And Isaac Chotiner surfaced a different complaint in The New Republic’s blog: “The Academy Awards is in danger of reaching a unique place in our culture—a place currently inhabited by the festivities surrounding Christmas … the Oscar telecast is annoying and silly. But much more annoying are the people who complain incessantly about these things. The Oscars has now gotten such bad press, for so long, that the prospect of reading more anti-Oscars articles induces greater dread than the thought of watching the show’s third musical number.”

3.Kera Bolonik’s “Topic” page in the January 30 “Intelligencer” comparing French and American parenting styles (“Docteur Spock”) struck some sensitive chords. “The fact is, French children as a whole are better behaved than their American counterparts,” noted a commenter. “There’s something to be said for a toddler who can make it through a multicourse meal or an international flight without embarrassing his/her parents and annoying every stranger in sight.” “I was raised exactly [this way],” wrote a commenter of French upbringing. “Growing up next to children with extremely lenient parents made me feel sorry for them. If smothering, overprotecting, and showering your offspring with milk and honey is considered the right way to raise a child, then I must be deranged.” “Oh, please! The French are already so full of themselves, why suggest they are better parents too?” groused another. “Ask any good parent what’s most important to them and they will say their children, so I worry more about those that don’t make their kids the ‘center of their universe.’ ” Another commenter argued against any supposed French monopoly on good parenting. “I’m Haitian and was raised pretty much the same way,” this commenter wrote. “Where’s my mom’s book deal?”

4. “Vulture” asked 40 movie critics to weigh in on the worst cinematic endeavors of 2011, and readers tweeted their own opinions on the rankings. A sampling: @42inchtv: “Shame makes the poll of the worst movies but not Abduction #makestotalsense.”@davechensky: “The films critics consider as “The Worst” continue to baffle me: MMMMarlene? GTFO of here, Thelma Adams.” @marzz_d2a: “Don’t tell me Just Go With It and Shame were worse than Dream House!” @lsternbergh: “Lots of schadenfun to be found in this.” @chrisfarnsworth: “It’s a bad year when Human Centipede 2 only comes in at #8.”

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Comments: Week of February 6, 2012