The Politics of Studs Terkel (Roger Ebert)

by Chris Sturr | November 10, 2008

An amusing riposte to this annoying comment on Studs Terkel’s work. The most recent episode of This American Life includes an astounding segment with interviews that were the basis of Terkel’s Hard Times–highly recommended.

To the Editor:

Re “He Gave Voice to Many, Among Them Himself,” by Edward Rothstein (An Appraisal, Arts pages, Nov. 3):

And who, Mr. Rothstein, is the Studs Terkel of the political right, seeking out the oral histories of those Enron employees who were recorded joking about “Grandma Millie,” a hypothetical victim of the rolling blackouts, and boasting about the millions they made for Enron while deliberately creating the California “energy crisis” of 2000-1?

Who is listening to those whose savings were eroded by Wall Street executives, who paid themselves millions of dollars for the task?

Perhaps we could recruit Mr. Rothstein to listen to the soldiers in Iraq who are fighting a war founded on lies and propaganda.

I applaud Mr. Rothstein’s insight: “No part of history or human experience should be ignored, but all of it needs to be placed in a larger context.” If Studs Terkel was a Marxist, as the article suggests, what is Mr. Rothstein?

Roger Ebert
Chicago, Nov. 3, 2008

The writer is a film critic at The Chicago Sun-Times.

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