May 28, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

We served up everyone’s favorite charismatic cannibal for our May 7 cover (#484), but Amy O’Dell of Carthage, Mo., couldn’t stomach it: ”I was so appalled by the illustration of Hannibal, I had to tear it off!” Jeff Sams of Greer, S.C., found himself more disturbed by A.J. Jacobs’ anti-old-comedy essay: ”The fact that Jacobs has the attention span of a flea does not give him license to dismiss an entire era of comedy.” But others, like Roger Dowd, 53, of Trenton, Mich., agreed with A.J.: ”The old shows were corny and contrived. I cried when they canceled Beavis and Butt-head.” Now, that’s funny.

Taster?s choice
Thank you for the inside scoop on what will obviously be a hot topic. Your cover is a classic. It reminds us of how disturbing a character Hannibal is. As for the sequel and if it should be made? Absolutely!
Christopher Metivier
Riverside, R.I.

Laugh-Off
Bravo to Ken Tucker for championing old humor (”Everything Old Blows”). In an age where talking Christmas feces and violent water boys substitute for comedy, it’s refreshing to recall past comedians who were witty, intelligent, and funny instead of just dumb and dumber.
Rob Greenlaw
Knoxville, Tenn.

Thank you, A.J. Jacobs!! Someone (besides me) finally said it! I was born in 1965, and I have a running argument with my wife that comedies made before then suck. She loves Lucy, but get serious — how funny can you be when you wear suits and evening dresses to dinner in your own house?
Jim Wilkeson
Lexington, Ky.

Thank goodness for A.J. Jacobs. Keen critical insights like his have been confined to high school cafeterias for too long. Maybe next month, he can explain why Beethoven is bogus. (”Too many violins!”) Or how about an essay on painting? (”That Picasso guy? What’s with the weird faces?”) Humor is an art that depends on the smarts of its audience. It’s not Buster Keaton’s fault that Jacobs has such a limited frame of reference.
Rob Nelson
Branford, Conn.

The Blame Game
Re: ”There’s no why.” There are, in fact, many, but they are complicated whys that include parental responsibility, mental condition, and peer treatment. But while Ms. Baldwin touched on the media’s obsession with violence, she glossed over the extent of its influence. Constant exposure to violence desensitizes everyone, well-adjusted or not, to its effects. To imply that ”there’s no why” brushes off everyone’s accountability.
Sally Cutler
Imlay City, Mich.

I want to thank Kristen Baldwin for her piece ”There’s No Why.” The entertainment industry has been blamed for a lot of problems in society when it is just a reflection of our world. If parents spent as much energy looking for emotional problems in their children as they do looking for violence in entertainment, maybe future tragedies could be prevented.
Wendy Whitney
Millers, Md.

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