The New Yorker - USA (2022-01-31)

(Antfer) #1


it is now, has a fairly recent history, and
that the narrative of Disney’s artistic im-
portance, as an individual and as a cor-
poration, is very complicated.
Eric Smoodin
Professor of American Studies
University of California, Davis
Davis, Calif.

While reading Robin Wright’s excellent
piece about the threat posed by Iran’s
transregional nuclear and missile capa-
bilities, I recalled how the special envoy
to Iran, Robert Malley, contributed to
the understanding of the United States’
historical role in the Middle East and
North Africa in his acclaimed book “The
Call from Algeria” (“Overmatch,” Jan-
uary 3rd & 10th). I then wondered: What
would it look like to approach the ten-
sions between the U.S. and Iran not from
the familiar flash point of hostage-taking
in the nineteen-seventies and eighties
but, rather, from the U.S. government’s
involvement in overthrowing Iran’s dem-
ocratically elected Prime Minister, in the
nineteen-fifties? An honest admission
of U.S. accountability for the current
state of affairs in Iran might help read-
ers to better contextualize the recording
that Wright describes, in which General
Qassem Suleimani, who was later killed
by U.S. forces, says, “You start this war,
but we create the end of it.” The situa-
tion is indeed dire, but the Iranian-Amer-
ican relationship is unlikely to change
unless the U.S. officially recognizes how
its history of illegally meddling in other
countries’ affairs has caused international
and geopolitical problems.
Catherine Boyle
Ph.D. Candidate in International
Harvard University
Cambridge, Mass.


Anna Shechtman’s essay about her in-
tertwined experiences of crossword-
puzzle construction and anorexia pre-
sents a candid look at eating disorders
(“Black-and-White Thinking,” Decem-
ber 27th). As someone who has strug-
gled with anorexia, I, too, believe that
my disorder was primarily a curse of
dualistic thinking, coupled with perfec-
tionism, rigidity, and a desire to craft a
certain identity. Yet I hadn’t considered
the connection between my disorder
and my love of crosswords. I enjoy solv-
ing puzzles during meals, perhaps as a
way of taking the focus away from what
I’m eating. In the presence of a grid—
and a seemingly impossible clue—any
invasive thoughts quiet down. Maybe
crosswords are both an extension of
my eating disorder and part of my be-
coming free of it. I’m grateful to Shecht-
man for offering a sense of camarade-
rie, on two fronts.
Matigan King
New York City

Peter Schjeldahl, in his review of an ex-
hibition at the Metropolitan Museum
about the relationship between Walt Dis-
ney and the French decorative arts, de-
scribes the work of Disney’s animation
studio as “kitsch” and “anodyne” (The
Art World, December 27th). During at
least the first half of the twentieth cen-
tury, people interested in the arts often
understood Disney differently. In 1934,
James Thurber suggested that the only
person who could make a proper version
of the Odyssey was “no less a genius than
Walt Disney.” In 1938 and 1941, the Cleve-
land Museum of Art received gifts of
drawings from “Snow White and the
Seven Dwarfs,” and, in 1944, the Mu-
seum of Modern Art placed Disney
on its board of trustees. The point is
not that Disney’s films were universally
praised as great art; that has never been
the case. Instead, Schjeldahl might have
more fully acknowledged that his per-
spective on Disney, as widely shared as

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