Very untruly yours

In March of 1987, having paid a hefty licensing fee of $500’000 to Capital Records and Michael Jackson for the privilege, Nike released the first ever television commercial to feature a song from the Beatles‘ sacred back catalogue—in this case, Revolution. Rather unsurprisingly, the move was seen by many as a controversial one, particularly by

Kids know I am harmless

In 1979, famous advice columnist Ann Landers wrote a widely-read article in which she strongly criticised “Cold Ethyl” (lyrics), a song about necrophilia/alcohol by Alice Cooper which, she claimed, had the power to corrupt his younger fans. A few weeks after the piece was published, Alice Cooper responded with a letter; that letter was published, along with

The Alien Father is H.R.Giger

In November of 1997, shortly before the release of the fourth Alien movie, Alien: Resurrection, H.R. Giger — the award-winning Swiss artist responsible for designing the Alien itself for the original movie — learned that he wasn’t to be named in the credits of the franchise’s latest installment. Understandably, he was furious, and responded to the news by

Hot, Hot, Hot

In May of 2000, an episode of Will & Grace aired in which one of its gay characters, Jack, joins an ex-gay ministry in an effort to get close to, and seduce, its formerly gay leader, Bill (played by Neil Patrick Harris). Unsurprisingly, the ex-gay community — people who claim to have suppressed or sometimes even “cured”

Regarding your dam complaint

In December of 1997, as a result of an official complaint from a neighbour, a Michigan resident named Stephen Tvedten received, indirectly, a stern warning from the region’s Department of Environmental Quality in the form of a letter—a letter in which he was given six weeks to remove two “unauthorized” and “hazardous” dams from the

Oh Christ, the cook is dead

In February of 1977, a well-meaning teacher named Stephen Gard wrote to Spike Milligan after reading Monty, the third installment of Spike’s memoirs which focused on his life as a soldier in World War II, and asked some questions about the book. Says Stephen: “My letter was written as a fan, but it did ask

We’re sorry you’ve been misled

When released in 1979, Monty Python’s Life of Brian was instantly banned in a number of countries due its supposedly blasphemous content, and faced countless angry protests from incredibly disgusted people who, more often than not, hadn’t seen the film itself. In fact, so numerous were the written complaints that the Monty Python team had no

The spectacle sickened me

In July of 1905, after attending a performance of Don Giovanni at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, renowned playwright and critic George Bernard Shaw wrote a wonderful letter of complaint to The Times. His grievance didn’t concern the opera itself, but rather an extravagantly dressed lady seated in his line of sight. The letter,

Ought women not to be abolished altogether?

On March 28th of 1912, an eminent bacteriologist named Almroth Wright wrote a lengthy, pompous letter to The Times in which he argued that women should not be allowed to vote, and in fact should be kept away from politics altogether, due to their supposed psychological and physiological deficiencies. Unsurprisingly his opinion generated many responses, the best

John Cleese vs The Sun

In 1982, British tabloid The Sun reported that filming on Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life had been marred by an incident involving John Cleese and a group of extras dressed as Zulu warriors. According to the article, Cleese, frustrated that bad weather was slowing the shoot, had “leaped about among the extras demanding ‘Which one

Bill Hicks on Freedom of Speech

As an outspoken stand-up comedian with strong, unbending views on the most divisive of subjects, the late-Bill Hicks was no stranger to controversy during his all-too-brief career. In May of 1993, less than a year before he succumbed to pancreatic cancer at the age of 32, a live recording of Hicks’ Revelations show was broadcast

God damn it, I split it so it will stay split

In January of 1947, renowned novelist Raymond Chandler wrote a letter to the editor of The Atlantic Monthly, Edward Weeks, primarily with regard to the title of a piece he had written for the magazine which was ultimately published the next year, titled, “Oscar Night in Hollywood.” It is the latter half of this letter,

He has nothing left but his poker

In September of 1896, the head of the Atlantic City Railroad in New Jersey received the following letter of complaint from an unhappy local named A. T. Harris. Little else is known. (Source: The Oxford Book of Letters; Image via Wikimedia.) To the Superintendent, Atlantic City Railroad, Sept. 1896 Dear sir, On the 15th yore

Intolerable Ignorance

Between the date of her death — January 22nd, 1901 — and her extravagant funeral a fortnight later, millions mourned as the body of Queen Victoria lay in state on the Isle of Wight. At some point during this lengthy period, disgusted at what he saw as an excessively long, out-of-touch “spectacle,” the great George Bernard

E. B. White on the Free Press

Late-1975, Esquire magazine announced that a forthcoming 23-page article by Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist Harrison Salisbury, to be published in their February 1976 issue, had been sponsored by Xerox. After hearing of the arrangement, E. B. White — author of Charlotte’s Web and long-serving contributor to The New Yorker — wrote a letter to his local newspaper and voiced his disapproval. In the coming

Nor was there a stock comedy Negro

In 1943, Alfred Hitchcock approached author John Steinbeck and asked him to write the script for his next movie, Lifeboat. Steinbeck agreed, and quickly supplied the director with a novella. Over the coming months, Hitchcock gradually modified the story with the assistance of other writers, and in January of 1944, just before it premiered, Steinbeck

Aida will gather dust in the archives

In May of 1872, having recently travelled twice to watch Aida, a disappointed Italian gentleman named Prospero Bertani decided to write a letter of complaint to the opera’s composer, Verdi, and ask for his money back; not just for the show, but for his expenses too. Amused, Verdi responded by forwarding the letter to his

My belly is too much swelling with jackfruit

In 1909, after missing his train due to an ultimately disastrous trip to the lavatory at Ahmedpur station, an embarrassed, angry young man named Okhil Chandra Sen sent an unintentionally amusing letter of complaint to the Sahibganj divisional railway office in West Bengal. The letter proved to be an important one as, according to the

Dejobbed, bewifed, and much childrenised

On February 2nd of 1929, the following hilarious letter of complaint was sent to a government official in Calabar, Nigeria, by a “bewifed” and “much childrenised” ex-employee who had recently been “dejobbed” due to his apparent laziness. It is unknown whether he was subsequently “rejobulated.” The letter is now held at the National Archives, is

It’s more likely that I was doing 911km/h

When Auckland resident Justin Lee received the above speeding ticket back in 2004, he noticed a typo: according to said notice, the infringement in question had taken place 30 years beforehand, in 1974, on the day he was born. His entertaining response can be read below, followed by the subsequent reply from the New Zealand Police. Transcript

I write for myself and I’ll say anything I damn well please

Back in December of 1996, worried about the influence of Green Day‘s “explicit” fourth album, Insomniac, on her 8-year-old son, an angry mother decided to write a slightly aggressive letter of complaint to the band. It clearly hit a nerve, and she soon received a handwritten response from then-24-year-old frontman Billie Joe Armstrong. Both letters

Forget the impeachment of President Nixon…

May 23rd, 1974: In a bid to draw some high-profile attention to an issue which is clearly aggravating him, Hollywood director King Vidor writes a letter to renowned L.A. Times sportswriter Jim Murray and speaks of the “disgraceful” public toilets on offer at the Dodger Stadium; public toilets he claims to be the worst in the world.

Seat 29E

Mid-flight on December 21st, 2004, a Continental Airlines passenger — “disgusted” with the location of his seat due to its proximity to the lavatory — humorously wrote the following letter of complaint to the airline’s headquarters. The now-famous letter, complete with illustrations and vivid descriptions of the passenger’s stench-filled discomfort, found its way onto the

Posterity is quite apt to be a little rough on you

Late 1946, a preview screening of The Beginning or the End – a dramatisation of the events surrounding the bombing of Hiroshima – was arranged for then-U.S. President Harry Truman and his aides. They were unhappy, in particular due to Roman Bohnen‘s unflattering portrayal of Truman when deciding – quite quickly and with little consideration

I really do not happen to like champagne

Playboy Magazine were clearly determined to feature a photograph of Fred Astaire, drink in hand, in their January ’62 issue; so much so in fact, that they rather desperately ran with a picture despite three separate refusals from the man himself. Understandably annoyed but ever the gentleman, Astaire made his displeasure known by sending this remarkably

You’re boring

Studio head Harvey Weinstein sent this fantastically blunt letter to Errol Morris in 1988, following the director’s recent promotional interview for The Thin Blue Line. Morris’s documentary eventually went on to win multiple awards and much acclaim, and the subsequent exoneration of the movie’s “star” earned Miramax — Weinstein’s company — invaluable publicity, but at

Superman looks worse in each picture

At some point in the early 1940s, the following letter of complaint was written – along with numerous others during that period – by DC Comics editor Whitney Ellsworth and sent to Jerry Siegel, the man responsible for co-creating Superman and then signing away the character to DC for pittance. This particular day, Ellsworth was

You make school a perfect misery

Whilst a pupil at Rockdale Public School in Tasmania, schoolboy Athel Margett was so unhappy with the conduct of his teacher that he wrote the following letter of complaint to the man in question: Mr. Broome. The beautifully written protest eloquently offered the teacher a glimpse of life from the viewpoint of his humiliated, dejected

You, Me and Cousin Dupree

On July 17th of 2006, three days after You, Me and Dupree — a film both produced by, and starring, Owen Wilson — was released in cinemas, the following open letter, addressed to Owen Wilson’s brother, Luke, was posted on Steely Dan‘s official website. In it, the band humorously take a pop at Owen’s post-Bottle Rocket output and claim their

Unhappy Franksgiving

A mild panic swept over the U.S. in 1939, following a brave decision by President Roosevelt to move Thanksgiving forward from the final Thursday of November to its penultimate Thursday, in an effort to lengthen and boost Christmas spending after the holiday during what were the last groans of the Great Depression. In the days

Dear Mayor of New York City

It’s no wonder that in a city as large and populous as New York, a steady stream of letters are written to the Mayor throughout the year by its citizens, the majority having been penned for different reasons. Below are just four such letters that I have plucked – with permission – from a truly

You must have the wrong author

The BBC have just uploaded a small collection of correspondence to and from author Enid Blyton and it makes for fascinating reading, providing more proof that Blyton, whilst adored by the millions of children who read her material, had a tougher time when it came to convincing adults that she was a writer of talent.

Most of you steal your software

On February 3rd of 1976, almost 10 years before unveiling Windows 1.0, an irate young Bill Gates wrote the following open letter in response to piracy of Altair BASIC, a piece of software Gates had produced with Paul Allen and Monte Davidoff, and which was essentially the first such release from Microsoft (then named Micro-Soft). The letter was published

I did NOT hear the Martians “rapping on my chamber door”

For your enjoyment, two beautifully contrasting reactions to the original airing of Orson Welles‘ adaptation of H. G. Wells‘ The War of the Worlds. For the uninitiated, on the evening of October 30th, 1938, the CBS Radio Network broadcast what sounded (to some) like a series of genuine news bulletins depicting the unfolding invasion of

Misbehaver in the caferteria is unexcecpable

Michael Levy, a dean at I.S. 051 Edwin Markham in New York, sent the following letter to pupils’ homes back in 2007 following a food fight in the school cafeteria. Bearing in mind the yellow highlighting in the picture isn’t comprehensive with regards to errors, see how many mistakes you can spot. Although such errors

Boom, boom, boom!

On January 30th, 1996, Evelyn Amato, a Manhattan-based thirtysomething, attended a performance of Cats on Broadway with fiance and family. As a result of an alleged incident involving Rum Tum Tugger during said performance, the following letter was sent by Miss Amato to producer Cameron Mackintosh in March of that year. Further to the letter

How can we stamp out this menace?

A flurry of letters similar to the one below – this particular example written by an irate parent to then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy in 1964 – resulted in a 31 month investigation by the FBI into the recording of the song Louie Louie by The Kingsmen. The initial uproar was a result of claims

God is great….God is great

On December 26th of 2003, less than a fortnight after his capture, Saddam Hussein gave the following letter to his jailers. In it, he complained of beatings, sleep deprivation due to the sounds associated with others being tortured, and generally poor conditions.  He was executed 3 years later. Translation follows. (Source: Daily News; Image: Saddam Hussein at trial in