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> Sure, it has been over-praised; sure, it is not the lonely
> masterpiece some claim; sure, its racial views are objectionable today. But
> to disregard it as you imply is, as I have said before, insupportable.
> "Cabiria" and the other Italian spectacles are feature-length and are
> impressive in some ways, but an acceptable substitute for studying Griffith
> and "Birth"? It is simply insupportable. Where is there any critical basis
> for this view?
 
        Why do you feel the need to establish *Birth* as a paradigm and regard
other national cinemas as "insupportable substitutes?"  I read your
thoughts on *Cabiria* and I accept your objections to the film, but I
have a feeling that you are establishing a hierarchy where American
cinema must come first and foremost.  If I misread you I apologize.
        I noticed that most Intro. to Film classes turn out to be
American Cinema courses, and most certainly Western (as in Western
Civ.. not John Ford) cinema classes.  That is a shame.
        Also, we all express views that are partisan and political and there is
nothing wrong with it, as long as we recognize it.  The claim to speak
some kind of objective truth is useless and ludicrous.
        As far as *Birth* goes, since what's done cannot be undone--I mean the
film exists as a racist text, I believe it is important to use it as a
tool to undermine the racist discourse that informs it.  Personally, and
pedagogically, I have a hard time overlooking *Birth's* racism in favor
of its aesthetic values.  I believe that is a dangerous move.
 
        Gloria Monti