An Open Letter to People Who Write Open Letters

Dear People Who Write Open Letters,

What’s your point?

I mean, I get that the “open letter” is a literary device of sorts, but it strikes me as being an exceptionally lazy literary device. It’s the equivalent of starting a presentation with: “Websters defines a ‘letter’ as a written form of communication typically between two individuals.”

In other words, it’s a stock device that betrays your inability to come up with a better conceit – like making up silly acronyms, or lists, or quizzes.

I suggest that we retire the “open letter” before another generation of writers embraces its modest charms.

Now, you’re probably thinking of me as a hypocrite because I once wrote an open letter to blue-eyed soul man Michael McDonald. But the truth is that I was actually deconstructing the open letter. My letter to Michael McDonald was truly intended for him and him alone. While you thought that were reading funny jokes about yacht rock I was secretly communicating in code to my dear friend Michael.

(And yes, “blue-eyed soul man” is a hackneyed cliché, but I used it ironically, once again demonstrating my ability to deconstruct the familiar.)

The dirty secret of open letters is that they’re really intended to be read by everyone except for the person they’re addressed to.

For example, instead of writing an open letter to Dick Cheney to express your opinion that he is the Satan spawn, maybe you could just write an essay openly declaring him to be the Satan Spawn? I bet that it’ll be even more powerful than your faux letter.

Then again, is that essay even really necessary? I’m pretty sure that when Dick Cheney (and his evil daughter Liz) are chugging the blood of virgins out of a goat’s skull they know better than anyone who their dark master is.  And if he hasn’t admitted it yet, well, I don’t think he’s going to just because he got an open letter.

Perhaps a better use for your typing skills might be to pen a closed letter to the editor of People magazine. I know of no greater pleasure in life than reading the idiotic letters page in People magazine. Seriously, what could possibly compell a normal person to write a letter commending Britney Spears on her superlative parenting skills based solely on a puff piece that previously ran in People magazine? Did that 1,000 word photo-essay on Britney really fill you with such a burning desire to tell the world that Britney is a really, really great Mom, regardless of what Kevin (or your lying eyes) indicate?

In closing, after re-reading this open letter I take back everything that I said. Open letters are hilarious, effective and awesome.

As always,

I remain,

Sincerely yours,

MB

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