In the wake of yesterday’s news that J. Hoberman, longtime senior film critic for The Village Voice, had been laid off from the publication, the critic has sent a letter to current Voice staffers. Hoberman also posted the letter on his personal website and sent it around to colleagues and friends.
Here’s the letter:
Yesterday afternoon I learned that my position at the Village Voice had been eliminated. I’ve been a staff writer at the Voice since 1983, a regular film reviewer since 1978, and sold my first free-lance piece (an article on Jack Smith’s Flaming Creatures) as a virtual toddler back in 1972. In fact, I grew up reading the Voice–in addition to spending most of my working life in its employ. But, nothing lasts forever, and I’ve had a pretty good run in what, for me, was the greatest job imaginable. I learned nearly everything I know about writing and a good chunk of what I know about life at the Voice; the paper gave me space to invent myself (that is, develop my own particular interests and means of expression), as well as the opportunity to work with some of the smartest, most interesting and most creative people I’ve been fortunate to meet—and I’m not talking about on-screen or in interviews. It’s safe to say that I’ll never love an institution as much as I first loved the Voice because there is unlikely to ever be an institution like thatVoice again—unfortunately. I have no regrets and whatever sadness I feel is outweighed by a sense of gratitude. Thirty-three years is a long time to be able to do something that you love to do, to champion things you want to champion, and to even get paid for it. I feel lucky that my last piece praised two movies that I greatly admire (at Film Forum and Anthology no less) and allowed me go out with a plug for Occupy Wall Street! I feel honored too that I had the opportunity this past summer to represent many of you in our union negotiations.
Be well, stay strong, and good luck, Jim
The dramatic reaction to Hoberman’s departure from the Voice has led to a number of passionate odes to his value as a critic over the years. Anthony Kaufman emphasized Hoberman’s role in advocating for movies that would otherwise never find an audience, while former Hoberman student Matt Singer listed “ten lessons for film critics from J. Hoberman.”
MSN Movies critic Glenn Kenny also assembled a a list, surveying the some of the highlights from Hoberman’s 30-plus years of writing for the Voice. Ending on an optimistic note, Kenny left the final slot open “for something mind-expanding to come from Hoberman in the future.”