Reflection on the genre of open letter
Open letter is a letter that is written to an individual but whose message is intended for a wide audience. Usually, open letters are addressed to specific individuals but the message is usually conveyed to them through newspapers as well as other media (Bhatia 5). In most cases, open letters are usually addressed to public figures such as politicians, heads of corporate organizations and government institutions, artists, journalists and religious leaders.
Writing open letters is motivated by various reasons. An open letter reflects the position of the author on a significant issue between him and the recipient and for which the public is invited to judge. Open letters allow readers to judge the recipient in view of their ability or inability to respond to the author’s claims (Bhatia 7). Open letters formalizes public communication. They prompt the recipient to act by increasing broad attention towards the recipient. An open letter can be used to start or end discourse on a particular matter. In some cases, open letters are used to provide humour around an issue.
Open letters follow a particular pattern when addressing their audience through the public. An introduction is a significant feature of any open letter. For example, Jim Tews, in an “Open letter from a decent, white male comic,” reminds his audience of who he is when he says, “My name is Jim TewsI have been a comedian for ten years now” (Jim 1). New audience is able to follow up the message because they know who is addressing it. An open letter is written as a direct speech to the recipient. The letter to Associate Master Erika Christakis reads, “In your mail, you defend the right” (Wilson 1). In this case, the author makes an attempt to engage his recipient directly. Open letter end with a conclusion that connects to the theme.
Part 2: Open letter to white male comedians
In this letter, the Lindy speaks unequivocally on the subject of gender in comedy. In a fierce and fearless attack on male comedians, the author abhors rape jokes, terming it an affront on “women’s actual humanity and physical sanctity” (Lindy 1). She argues that despite the complaints by women, they are often met with dismissal. Lindy recognizes the value of comedy in her life. She not only poke holes on the inadequacies of white comedians but also appreciates what comedy has done to her life as having brought her emotional solace. However, she expresses her willingness to advise male comedians on what hurt their careers. She advises that comedy and empathy should not be viewed as enemies and that comedians should not talk about rape as the basis of their comedy.
Lindy asks comedians to talk about controversial subjects. She recognizes the centrality of comedy in expressing controversial topics, and which she believes rape is not part of. Through this expression, Lindy projects herself as a feminists who would not leaving anything to chance when defending the rights and dignity of women. She perceives women as systematically oppressed people whose voices can only be heard when fellow women rise to defend what is right for them. As she comes to a conclusion in her open letter, Lindy reminds her recipients that she is aware of the likely responses to her letter. This probably explains the reason her letter begins with “I know you are mad at me” (Lindy 1).
Lindy highlights seven responses that her male critics are likely to give, thereby positioning herself on the defense, and to forestall imminent criticism of her cynical tirade on male comedians. One of these reasons is that women also make jokes about males and that she should stop silencing men (p 4-6). Although she recognizes her vicious onslaught on white male comedians, she remains unbowed and committed to her course.
Bhatia, Vijay Kumar. Analysing genre: Language use in professional settings. Routledge,
Jim, Tews. An Open Letter from a Decent, White Male Comic. 2013. Available at
Lindy, West. An Open Letter to White Male Comedians. 2013. Available at
Wilson, Ryan. “Open Letter to Associate Master Christakis.” Down Magazine. (n.d).
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