Making OC More Like Orange County

Dear Orange County Register reader:

You've probably lost count of the many changes our paper has gone through in the past couple of years in our continuing effort to become a local newspaper composed entirely of wire reports. That's why we didn't bother to print the news that our longtime movie critic Henry Sheehan was let go on March 29 after nearly a decade of award-winning work. Never mind that Henry was among the most respected critics in the United States and a frequent contributor to National Public Radio: we want wire copy!

No one could take Henry's place. Instead, we have enlisted the services of Craig Outhier, the film critic for our Mesa, Arizona, sister paper, East Valley Tribune. As our publisher, N. Christian Anderson, said in a recent interview about the hiring, “Craig is not syndicated, although he well could be.”

Don't pay attention to LA Weekly film critic John Powers, who remarked sarcastically in his fag rag, “I'm sure the Register's readers will be delighted to discover that their paper, the 23rd-largest in the country, is now being serviced by a critic who wrote of the Houston International Film Festival, 'Forget Sundance! WorldFest is one of the best-conceived festival productions on the planet!'”

“Why should I pay attention to a critic based in Mesa?” you might be muttering as you pick up the phone to cancel your subscription. Sure, Mesa is far away from Hollywood and located in the middle of nothing but dirt and more dirt. But we think you'll be familiar with the Mesan view of life and movies because Mesa's more Orange County than Orange County!

The city is more than 80 percent white, with most of the population composed of people who escaped formerly white places like Orange County after the colored invasion of the 1990s. The East Valley Tribune is owned by Freedom Communications, the company that owns the Register. It has the same wild syndicated columnists (one described the recent Academy Awards as a parade of “sycophants kneeling at the golden altar of Oscar, symbol of Hollywood decadence, socialism and now racial stratification”) and penurious global coverage that you've come to associate with the Register. It even has its own Gordon Dillow, Gary Nelson, who rants about the evils of political correctness and writes gems like, “The funnies are seldom funny these days anyway. They can be caustic, ironic and cynical, but few of them are funny.” That's so funny!

Mesa's politics are described by Congressional Quarterly as “rooted in the conservative leanings of an affluent, historically Mormon and increasingly retired population.” Except for the part about Mormons, doesn't that sound familiar? And Mesans love outdated constitutional amendments: after a bunch of Mesans complained about the negative depiction of guns in the East Valley Tribune, the paper adopted a policy requiring its reporters to respect guns. Long live political incorrectness!

Law enforcement is also corrupt in this Stanton-in-the-desert. The Mesa Police Department was the subject of a lawsuit a couple of years ago by nine officers alleging discrimination by the city's Mormon elite. Officers alleged they were told to go easy on Mormon suspects and turn their attention to Latinos. In Orange County, the Mormons are the George Argyroses of the county, while the Latinos are . . . well, the Latinos.

In the aftermath of Sept. 11, a Sikh man was killed in Mesa by a man shouting patriotic slogans. In Fullerton during that same time, a Sikh couple selling ice cream was chased out of a Fullerton neighborhood by a man with a bat. You might remember him from our picture of him with the American flag prominently displayed in the background, another American in its finest hour.

Mesa is the redneck, backwater hellhole that Orange County once was and which many of our readers wistfully recall. As your local newspaper, it's our duty to try to bring back such an environment. Enlisting Mesa to help with our Show section is a good start. What does it matter if Mr. Outhier isn't worthy of pouring the butter on Henry Sheehan's popcorn? He'll do just fine; and if he doesn't, nobody reads the Show section anyway.


Tonnie Katz

Editor, Orange County Register

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