Sunday, February 24, 2008

Dear Woody Allen,

Woody Allen coined a phrase in one of his movies for the feral pigeons in New York City. He called them feathered rats. Sadly, this took root in the minds of the public, or worse, in the minds of everyone in the media who ever thought to do a story on pigeons.

22 June 1966, New York Times, pg. 59:
Commissioner Hoving (Parks Commissioner Thomas P. F. Hoving - ed.) calls the pigeon "a rat with wings."

31 December 1967, New York Times, pg. 190:
To discourage pigeons, recently defined as rats with wings, I scatter millet and cracked corn for juncos and other sparrows in the heart of brush pile which is kept for this purpose.

23 January 1981, Washington Post, pg. A1:
"I think Woody likes to create phobias," she (actress Charlotte Rampling - ed.) says. "He's afraid of pigeons. 'They're rats with wings,'" he says.


Mr. Stephen Tenenbaum
Personal Management - MBST Entertainment
445 North Maple Dr
Suite 200
Beverly Hills, Ca. 90210

To whom it may concern,

We are a professional couple living in London and who regularly work/ visit New York. We also work extensively for animal and bird welfare and have been alarmed for some years now at the appalling propaganda surrounding the humble "rock dove" or feral pigeon. These harmless gentle birds who have helped man-kind in so many ways (winners of the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross for carrying messages to and from during the war) are now denigrated quite erroneously as vermin because of a careless line uttered in a Woody Allen film many years ago.

My husband and myself are great Woody Allen fans and, as a voting member of BAFTA, I find myself wishing every year that we could see another of his offerings of genius.

However, the poison of these perhaps innocent words has spread to the pigeon hating custodians of our towns and cities, resulting in some mass slaughter in the UK and now Venice, as well as the promise of such in New York. Such cruelty has to be stopped - and the millions of dollars that the pest control industry are making out of this is frankly, quite obscene.

We are sure that Mr. Allen is a compassionate man, tolerant of the fact that human beings have to share the planet with others of God's creatures. We are not saying that an over-population of any creature should not be controlled, but there are ways and means of coping with this which do not include poisoning, shooting, being ripped apart by hawks or indeed starvation.

It would be a tremendous gesture of goodwill if Mr. Allen could see his way to attending National Pigeon Day in New York on l3th June and rescinding his comments as to what they were hopefully just meant to be - ie. lines of a fictional nature from a work of fiction. Maybe that would penetrate the closed minds of those too intolerant to find another way.

Ann and John Gale,
London N65TT, UK

I concur with those who take the view that Mr. Allen's unfortunate popularization of the line, "rats with wings", describing pigeons, is simply stupid, in the precise technical sense of the word. Taken up by foolish people, this has led to all sorts of mischief. Your man needs to get off the dime and take responsibility for this error of commission.

Don Jenner, Ph.D.

Mr. Allen,

Please do all you can to reverse harm to the pigeons that is caused by your careless words. Neither these birds nor rats deserve arrogant abuse and mistreatment. There is no need to bring multiple examples of both species high intelligence, just moral considerations alone should allow you to see how unfair we humans are to these constantly prosecuted animals. It’s shockingly stressful to observe contribution of highly cultural creative people in cruelty and violence against animals.

A. Belenky, Ph.D.

Dear Mr. Allen,

You have been a big influence in New Yorkers lives for decades now, however, with your public image and power comes a greater moral responsibility.

By using a demeaning and devastating phrase in one of your movies, you have cost (I am sure not intentionally) a tremendous hardship in the lives of millions of helpless pigeons around the city.

I live on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and believe me, it is very difficult for pigeons to survive, not only are they starving to death, on a daily basis they are kicked, poisoned, glued, and simply hated, even by small children, who learn to hate from their parents.

These innocent animals have the capacity, as you and I do, to feel pain.

See, New Yorkers as all Americans, unfortunately, follow public figures and truly believe what these "famous" people say, whether they are in the movie business or politics. It is just part of the idiosyncrasy of the people of the USA, easy to influence and gullible.

Please, Mr. Allen, I urge you to make a public announcement, written would be the best way, to retrieve the phrase "pigeons are rats with wings", and explain to people that it was "just a movie phrase", that in fact scientific fact prove the opposite, they cause no harm, just joy, by giving us the chance to interact with nature in this cement and glass city.

Lily Rocco

Dear Mr. Allen,

I am sure that over the years you have heard the many stories about how your comment in the movie 'Stardust Memories' has affected those persons who love and care for Rock Doves. The courageous Rock Dove has helped us through hard times (World War 1 and World War 11). We would love for others to understand that while you may be a brilliant actor, that words spoken in a movie do not represent the person playing the part.

We would love to request your presence on National Pigeon Day. We understand that you are quite busy, and that it's not typical of you to make such appearances, but this would be a wonderful opportunity to correct many wrongs that have occured, simply by a comment you made while writing a movie. I am sure you never meant any harm to come to these wonderful courageous birds, who have served man since the dawn of time. It was meant in humor, but much harm has occured as a result.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this, and I hope to hear your reply soon. If you don't have the time for an appearance, perhaps you could write a few words to help others understand that it was merely a movie part, not who you truly are in your heart.

Thanks again.
With much appreciation,
Wanda Miller

It's payback time. Years ago, in your film Stardust Memories, you made a species slur, referring to pigeons as "winged rats." People have been using your phrase to denigrate and decimate pigeons for over two decades. In case you haven't noticed (and I believe you have) this world is a hostile, violent, troubled world. Your words perpetuated more violence.

To "undo" this (as we say in psychology), you should publicly support pigeons' rights (no, not to vote... but to be left alone to live their lives without torment and torture from humans.

The war on pigeons was fueled by your words. You have the power to reverse it.

Rina Deych, RN and Wildlife Rehabilitator
Brooklyn, NY 11219

PS: For the record, humans carry far more(and deadlier)diseases than rats and pigeons.

Incidentally, documentarian Lionel Friedberg recently released a film entitled A Sacred Duty, Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World, which examines the connection between animal agriculture and global warming. You can read a synopsis and get access to the film here. As a filmmaker, I would imagine you'd be very interested in seeing it.

subject: cool can be cruel

Hey, Mr. Allen,

go out, show a little guts to make up for a stupid joke (if that's what it was supposed to be). hahaha. the pigeons loved it. if you don't step out to protect life, ALL life, then, i ask you: what's your life worth???

the pigeons and barbara

Woody Allen Management
Stephen Tenenbaum
MBST Entertainment

Dear Sir:

I am writing to request that Woody Allen make an appearance at National Pigeon Day on Friday, June 13th, to make right the horrible disservice he’s done to our feral pigeon population; innocent pigeons are being persecuted and annihilated because of the cavalier remark "rats with wings" (Stardust Memories, 1980, written and directed by Woody Allen).

Remarks such as this one have helped destroy precious wildlife in New York City and throughout the world.

For nearly 30 years this slur has been perpetuated by the media who use it to ridicule and degrade pigeons so that they have no respect in our society and consequently are treated with contempt and hatred by the general public. It is also used by our elected government officials to justify killing and enforcing cruel and senseless laws, not to mention illegal pigeon netters, who still have not been punished for their vicious crimes.

In addition, the moniker is being used by pigeon control companies who make billions of dollars by exterminating pigeons under false pretenses -- all because of three little words written by Woody Allen.

Thank you for your kind attention,

Miss Poornima Dasgupta
Scarsdale, NY 10583

Please request that Woody Allen make an appearance on National Pigeon Day June 13th, to help right the wrongs he has committed by his cruel comments about pigeons. He has helped cause much animal cruelty that is very unnecessary.

Thank you,
Pamela Cortelyou
San Diego CA 92110

Tikkun Olam. "To save one life is to save the world". Six thousand year old Hebrew tenet.

It is easier to slaughter than to save. It is more important to save life than anything in the world.

Far more important than making movies.

Howard Anger

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