To the editor:
Is it possible that in the Orwellian age in which we live the blurring of the meaning of words has even spread to Reader writers? In his review of V for Vendetta [Section 2, March 17], J.R. Jones refers to the film as "the most potent piece of agitpop in years." Agitpop, though, refers to disseminating political ideas through popular music: the word for propagandistic films or other works of art is agitprop. Especially in dealing with a work of art that has Orwellian roots, it is important not to lose sight of the notion that clarity in language can do much to head off just the sort of society portrayed in V for Vendetta.
J.R. Jones replies:
According to Webster's 11th, our standard reference, agitprop is "political propaganda promulgated chiefly through literature, drama, music, or art." Agitpop was coined in the early 80s by the band of the same name and has since been used generically by music writers (including me). But it doesn't appear in Webster's or any other major dictionary, so I consider it up for grabs. Therefore meaning number two would be "disseminating political ideas through popular culture." Of course the above definition of agitprop mentions music but not film, so my definition for agitpop might be considered more precise than yours. As for blurring the meaning of words, it has its virtues, like allowing the members of Agitpop to refer to their records as "popular music."