Every once in a blue moon, a story so confounding it defies easy description drifts along the roiling waters of the internet and washes up on our shores here at Film.com. This… is such a story.
It involves a newly-minted newspaper editor in Buffalo, New York and an e-mail he sent to a well-respected film critic regarding "Snow White and the Huntsman" and a whole boatload of misogyny. This woman-hating, Hollywood-chastising fiend sent the e-mail, the critic quit and sent an eloquent piece about it to Roger Ebert. Ebert gave it two thumbs way up and posted it on his site for all the world to see.
Here's how it all went down…
Michael Calleri - A freelance movie journalism vet for nearly two decades, known for his work on Buffalo radio, television, and particularly his weekly film column for print paper Niagara Falls Reporter. After seven years of churning out his column, he recently made the hard decision to quit the Reporter after the new owner/whackjob made it clear that his bizarre definition of manliness was the criteria for which films would be judged.
Roger Ebert – The Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times/all-around awesome cinephile who gave Calleri an outlet to publicize perhaps one of the most bats**t insane letters a U.S. employer has ever sent to an employee outside of the CIA's MK-Ultra program.
Frank Parlato – This is the guy, ooh boy. There are a multitude of C-words that could be used to describe Parlato, but he is most definitely a CHARACTER. Another C-word is "controversial," as in this man is a controversial figure in the upstate New York real estate scene, where his family was banned from doing business with the government after a series of housing scams in the '90s, and where he was also arrested for building code violations in 2006. He most famously developed the glass structure One Niagara, which on one of his MANY websites he recalls, "the failed AquaFalls project had left a literal hole, to match the figurative one, in the center of the city's tourism district. Parlato filled that hole on both accounts." One hole Parlato could not fill was his lubed-up lust for yellow journalism, so he sold One Niagara in 2010 and bought the Niagara Falls Reporter from founder/editor Mike Hudson. It was there that he eventually began his war against Snow White…
Here are the highlights of Parlato's letter to Calleri in truncated form with all the grammatical/formatting mistakes corrected so they do not detract from his horrible, warped message:
-"'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. 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."
Since Parlato's tirade against a movie he hadn't even seen ran along with Calleri's commentary, many have chimed in regarding this affront to free speech, which is especially ironic given a long rant Parlato published over the summer in which he 110% defended Lenny Palumbo, another of his writers, for some seriously homophobic comments about the NHL.
Noted critic Joe Leydon was one of the first to chime in on Ebert's site, saying, "My first impulse was to write: Unbelievable. But then I remembered some of the troglodytic editors I have dealt with over the years, and experienced an unpleasant shock of recognition."
Then Parlato fired back in the comments with a long diatribe in which he flung insults like, "Calleri is a guy who likes to go to movies." DUH, asswipe! That's why he's a movie journalist. That's like saying "Bill Gates is some idiot who likes to play with computers all day. Get a job, hippy!" He then unapologetically confirms his position "supporting the traditional roles between a husband and wife, where, for the welfare of their children, a mother stays home to raise her children and a father goes out to work damn hard."
So, in essence, Kristen Stewart needed to just back off her "Snow White" pedestal and let mighty Chris Hemsworth take care of Charlize Theron's evil queen while she stays home and, in the words of George Carlin, "pumps out another unit every nine months." That's some progressive thinking, Mr. Putz… I mean, Parlato.
Finally, Reporter founder Mike Hudson chimed in from L.A., fresh from a stint in rehab, saying "I'm sitting in front of the fireplace in the bedroom of the house I bought on Mulholland near the intersection of Old Topanga Canyon Road with the money I made from selling the Reporter to Frank Parlato and laughing my ass off."
What's really funny is this situation in Buffalo over a paper with a readership of around 20,000 can also be seen as a re-enactment or microcosm of what recently took place on a national scale with Fox News. The nation's #1 cable news network has made no bones about its woman-hating, gay bashing, racist right-wing politics, but showed that it was so completely out of touch with reality on election night that they were practically calling the election for Mitt Romney even as all polls said otherwise.
Both incidents signal the widening gulf between the ancient, pickled brain oligarchs who own and influence media outlets (*cough*Rupert Murdoch*cough*) and the slim majority of people in this country who don't want to see our culture slip back to some Eisenhower-era patriarchal fascism run by mental midgets. It's taken a long time for men to adjust from the Don Draper/Ron Burgundy mold of revering women as much as their mahogany Scotch chest, whether it's the men's movement/mythopoetics of the '60s and '70s where dudes dealt with their identity in a changing sexual landscape, or simply Sigourney Weaver mowing down xenomorphs in "Aliens." Women are here in our art (and our heart, rhyme!) to stay, and dinosaurs like Parlato need to deal with it.
As for how all this ties into the film "Snow White and the Huntsman," if it truly does reinforce an emasculating image of men with the presence of strong, empowered women whose very existence outside of a kitchen or birthing trench has a castrating effect on said men? I can't say, I haven't seen it yet.