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Readers, even those who disgree, make writing worthwhile

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By Reggie Ponder
Columnist

Thursday, August 9, 2018

If it weren’t for readers there would be no reason to write.

I have frequently expressed appreciation for readers and especially for feedback from readers. This would I would like to do that once more but with a bit of a twist this time.

Feedback can be great even when it takes the form of disagreement or criticism.

Not all disagreement and criticism is created equal, of course, and some criticisms are ill-founded or even unfair while others are thoughtful and constructive.

But it’s reassuring to know that people are reading and paying attention, and sometimes choosing to interact with what they read.

Most of the feedback I get regarding this column is positive. People call, email or send a note to say they appreciate something I said, that they found it funny, or thought-provoking, or encouraging.

This week, though, I got a well-written letter, fairly lengthy, written in hand, taking issue with my take on the new “Mamma Mia” movie. I’m not sure the reader intended for the thoughts to be made public so I won’t use the letter-writer’s name.

The upshot was that this reader found the sequel enormously disappointing, while I thought it was terrific.

I still think it was terrific but it was nice to know someone else had strong enough feelings about the movie, and about my take on it, to want to respond.

The central points of disagreement had to do with the relatively small role Meryl Streep has in the sequel and the performance by Cher.

I missed Meryl Streep but also thought I understood why her role was downplayed in the sequel in favor of other elements of the story. For the correspondent, though, the diminished role of Meryl Streep — who after all portrayed the central character in the first movie — was a fatal flaw.

So it’s an interesting divergence of opinion. Both of us recognized that Meryl Streep’s role was greatly diminished, but one saw it as a relatively minor shortcoming while the other thought it a much larger problem.

It’s similar when it comes to Cher. I’m probably not very objective about Cher because I have considered her an awesome singer and performer for more than 40 years — most of my life, now that I think about it.

All of this probably can be filed under the heading of “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” But it also points to the graciousness of disagreeing in a thoughtful letter rather than firing off an angry email or making an impulsive phone call.

Best of all, it’s a reminder that people are reading, and that the world is still turning.

Reggie Ponder is a staff writer for The Daily Advance.

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