Unique styles of expression

I was disappointed that you would print John Hughes's ``What Is Boy George?'' (Feb. 8). His article is a rehash of the arguments we have heard since the 1950s that pop music degrades our young people and is one big rip-off. Isn't it a bit totalitarian to suggest that all artists must have a social ``message''? Entertainers give people what they want, by the definition of their profession. Did Frank Sinatra or Elvis Presley have any great social comments to convey? I think not; yet look at their popularity and influence.

Also, I have to disagree with Hughes's suggestion that George is just out to make a buck by dressing in an odd manner. He has been dressing differently for years, as have a number of British boys who follow in the footsteps of such stars as Elton John and David Bowie, not to mention the more longstanding tradition of English dandyism. George obviously enjoys his appearance and is comfortable with it. And if Mr. Hughes were a follower of fashion, as any such sociologically minded person should be, he would know that George has had much influence on dress, makeup, and hairstyles since his appearance on the pop scene. Marla Younkin Delaware, Ohio

Re the essay ``A composer talks business'' (The Home Forum, Feb. 11): As a man who has undoubtedly developed a unique style of expression, did Michael Colgrass really intend to leave his readers with the impression that one of the important initial goals of the budding artist should be the emulation of other artists in their same field? There is nothing, I feel, more dangerous for the impressionable beginning artist than ``modeling'' by comparing oneself with and imitating others. This might be amusing for children, but it can be fatal in the quest to be what one must be in order to be a true artist -- totally original, giving unique expression to our common humanity.

Witness the fact that those who have studied under great artists in the past have rarely succeeded in ``getting out from under.''

We need to zealously guard the only thing a work of art must unarguably have in order to be art: individuality. What more perfect goal is there than to strive to be oneself, unduplicated in the universe? Barbara Cook La Grange, Ill.

My article (``Demonetize libel,'' Feb. 21) seemed to suggest erroneously that the Westmoreland libel case was telecast over CBS's ``60 Minutes.'' My manuscript inadvertently dropped ``network's'' from ``the same network's `60 Minutes,' '' thereby changing the meaning. My point remains: A simpler, less dollar-oriented system is needed to assess alleged libel. Leonard R. Sussman, executive director Freedom House, New York

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none individually acknowledged. All are subject to condensation. Please address letters to ``readers write.''

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