Artificial Intelligence

Claudia's no ideal: I was completely surprised by your recent edition that featured Claudia DiFolco on its cover ("I, Claudia," Brian Smith, August 17). Since when did someone who isn't real become an ideal? Claudia simply stands for everything that is wrong with Phoenix. Your article lauds her for acting one way and being another. But isn't that exactly what Phoenix is struggling with? A city that can't figure out its own identity and instead is becoming a cheap imitation blend of L.A., Santa Fe and everything else that is mocked in most other cities?

The article speaks of little girls worshiping Claudia. It isn't Claudia they worship, it is TV. Claudia is on TV, Claudia can put them on TV, therefore, Claudia has the power. If those little girls truly do worship Claudia the person, then I feel for them, because she is not an ideal to which any young woman should aspire. Overdone makeup, acting like a "ditz," not being real . . . is this what we want young women to aim for? Even Claudia's friend, Bruce St. James, states, "I think she downplays it [her intelligence] because it's maybe not cool or it comes across a little egotistical." How sad is that? Since when did we go back to making our ideal a smart woman who acts stupid? Last time I looked at the calendar, we were in the year 2000.

And what happened to unbiased reporting? Why is the comment from the Zia employee who sees Claudia every week written off as a "quick judgment"? Because it was negative? Claudia believes "feminism just confused men. They don't know if they are coming or going." Well, no wonder, when women like Claudia continue to choose to rely on their looks and downplay their strong intellect because of an irrational fear of appearing too strong.

It is really too bad you decided to write a feature article on Claudia. I have come to expect more from New Times. Devoting a cover to something so lacking in intellectual stimulation and worth leads me to ask . . . has this summer really been that bad?

Nicole Yackell

Fresh attitude: I loved your story, but I would have liked to know more about Claudia, like her hobbies, likes, dislikes, etc. I love watching her, and enjoy her fresh attitude on things. For the record, I'm a 54-year-old working, married woman.

Michal Ann Joyner

Script off: It has been said that the United States populace is the best entertained, least informed on Earth. When New Times goes to interview the hood ornament of the Channel 3 NewShow, one wonders.

How true the lead was. Claudia DiFolco may not be a ditz. But the guy you sent to write the story, Brian Smith, certainly is. He could have written that one without even leaving the house.

Your paper prides itself on attacking mediocrity, ranting against predictability. You murder movies for their, well, lack of creativity. You get cute whilst sitting in the stands, but once on the field, well, your mitt ain't quite that good.

Let me recap the quickly constructed, formulaic, wood veneer cheap Hollywood plot outline you tried to hide under Claudia's cover photo.

Introduce the heroine, make her likable. A slight dash of support from worthy friends: "She's all porn star." Carries us through Act II. Then add the deep-down, good-girl twist, parochial school, with the toughness, turning the heat up on Smokey Robinson, and this chick is good, tough and on your side. In Act III, the protagonist meets her undoing, or does she?

The "personal space" invasion, where the images tug at our soul. We are asked to be sympathetic to innocent beauty of body parts heaving mightily, stalked and hunted by the evil society that she not only feeds off and is held captive by, but which she needs for her survival.

Then there is the happy ending where the heroine is safe by virtue of the fact that "she is already taken." We can read the rest through the final credits, knowing all is well. But that's a shame. Maybe she has some talent other than the leather and the snippets of how, like, dude, she's so synthetic, how she always gets a reaction.

There are some of us who toil, who know mediocrity, who face it on a daily basis and yet continue the struggle to find the nugget of real chicken, not particle board pieces; we might have picked up the issue, saying, "There's a fresh, well-marketed face." Alas, we missed a chance to learn about the real Claudia.

Now there's an article that's begging to be written. Shame on you for sending that guy out on another assignment without sending one of your movie critics along to read the first draft.

Mike Hogan

Tongue Wagging

Bilingual ed works: Caleb Correa's "Lost in the Translation" (July 6) has sparked a number of responses from Hispanophobic readers. Disdain for those who don't speak English is not much different from the disdain that Hispanics had for Native Americans who did not speak Spanish. In either case, the disdain was based on ignorance. Every Hispanic immigrant I have known in my 25 years as an English teacher was well aware of the value of spoken English and English literacy. If their parents were not fluent in English, it was because they worked in jobs that exercised their strong backs rather than their literacy skills.

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