To the editors:
I found the letter from Doug Hoekstra in the most recent edition of the Reader [August 23] to be both amusing and disturbing. I don’t begrudge him for sticking up for his brother, Dave, because blood is, and should be, thicker than words. But Doug failed to neglect that he is in a third-rate local band (Bucket No. 6 or something equally obtuse) that has failed to make a dent on either the local or national rock scene. When Dave wrote music pieces for the Sun-Times, he used nepotism to justify running bits on the band. Could Doug possibly be miffed that when Jae-Ha Kim took over, that free publicity ended?
The first line in Hoekstra’s letter cracked me up. “I’m shocked and stunned by the Bill Wyman-Jae-Ha Kim critic’s war,” he wrote. Funny. I thought it took two to create a war and as far as I can tell, it is Wyman [July 19] who has tried to instigate a one-man war against Kim, who has been too smart to let his professional jealousy bother her. I think it is to her credit that she has not sunk to his level by addressing him in a similar manner.
Reading Wyman’s continued diatribes against Kim, I can’t help but wonder if he doesn’t secretly harbor a love-hate relationship for her. His words may be plucked from a college textbook, but his actions are only slightly more advanced than that of little boys who push little girls down in the playground to get their attention.
After going to numerous concerts where we also saw all the major Chicago critics, including Kim, Wyman, Don McLeese, Dave Hoekstra, and Greg Kot, my friends and I couldn’t help but notice that the male critics clustered together like drinking buddies while Kim sat separated at a different table. It was obvious that the male fraternity didn’t want to include her in its clique. It’s not inconceivable that Wyman may harbor some physical jealousy for Kim: while the male critics looked like stereotypical rock ‘n’ roll failures with their beer bellies and glasses, Kim looked young, intelligent and, yes, very pretty. I realize that looks shouldn’t be a part of a critic’s charm–especially in print. But perhaps that’s something that Wyman hasn’t figured out for himself yet.
But more importantly, the implicit sexism and racism that runs rampant in Wyman’s writing is more bothersome than his attack on Kim. I find it very interesting that when the inept Pat Smith, an African American, covered music at the Sun-Times making frequent embarrassing mistakes, Wyman never bothered to write about her. Perhaps he was afraid that picking on a black woman would cause cries of “racism.” But with Kim, he has found the perfect whipping woman, capitalizing on the anti-Japanese sentiment prevalent in U.S. society. (I realize that Kim probably isn’t Japanese, but most Caucasians can’t differentiate Asian names.)
Having followed the escapades of Wyman’s attacks on Kim over the past several months, I must thank you for cluing readers in on what was once a little known fact from her byline: That Kim is a woman. Her androgynous name and objective writing style always has made it difficult to discern whether she was male or female, something I believe can’t be said about the majority of male music writers in this country who seem to think that verbal testosterone makes up for their lack of physical prowess.
What Wyman has done with his childish whining is make it clear that he takes himself much too seriously. And when rock critics do that, they’re doing both themselves and their readers a disservice.
Bill Wyman replies:
Recent letters to the Reader have maintained that I love Madonna, hate Madonna, am jealous of Jae-Ha Kim, and have a grudge against Jae-Ha Kim; that I am a disco sycophant who doesn’t appreciate Emerson, Lake and Palmer or the Scorpions; that I am racist, sexist, and just want a job on a daily newspaper; and that my criticism is somehow a factor of penis size. All of this calumny I take with equanimity. But when you imply that I have a beer belly like Don McLeese, you go too far. Sir, you are a cur.