Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Critical Drinking

I’ve been thinking for months about how I want to get back to writing here. I set myself a goal of posting once a week, which really shouldn’t be hard. An hour on the weekend, a photo or two posted straight from my phone...but I don’t. I think maybe the traditional at this point in the history of blogging “why I haven’t been writing” post is a stumbling block, so I’ll skip it (no ominous reason, just the usual too many things). Lest this idea seem like a New Year’s resolution, note that January’s almost over, and take my word for it that I’ve been thinking about this since at least October. (It's worth noting, I think, that I've had this blog for over ten years, which is...weird.)

I have done some writing elsewhere, though (also weeks ago at this point, so make of that what you will), in both unexpected and expected places. First, a Twitter conversation/argument with my friends at The Craptacular turned into a blog post (theirs) which turned into a series of comments that were basically more blog posts (mine). It was an interesting conversation in which we were ultimately largely saying the same thing in different ways. In case your personal “don’t read the comments” policy is so strict you won’t even click over (and I can’t blame you for that), here’s a shorter version:

I took issue with the schadenfreude surrounding Spider-Man's Broadway closing after seeing many tweets, etc. basically saying "good riddance." This is how theater works, of course -- shows close, new ones open -- but I think there's something tacky about rejoicing that a couple hundred people are losing their jobs. (Why I keep finding myself in the position of defending that show I don’t quite know.) This somehow turned into a conversation about critics and negativity, which isn't what I'd been talking about but was interesting anyway. We all agreed that everyone -- professional critic or not -- was entitled (obligated) to share her opinion and that "in my opinion" was implied. It's not necessary to consider who the show might be for if it’s not for you, since you're writing from your perspective. BUT (and this is where we did not agree but that's okay) I argued that the show wasn't a complete failure if it ran for three years (though it clearly wasn't a success either) and there's a difference between saying something is objectively bad and saying, however harshly, that you hated it. Or saying it doesn't work but here's what's interesting and saying because it doesn't work there's nothing interesting (we do agree that "interesting parts" doesn't mean you should pay $150 for a ticket, which again is where a nuanced (not the opposite of negative) review can come in). Or saying "I'm not sorry that show is closing" and "Suck it, that show and everyone who works there." Nearly everything is for someone, or it wouldn't exist. And I say this as someone who hates a lot of things. If some little kid saw Spider-Man and that's his gateway drug to Sweeney Todd, that works for me, if not for the investors. 

There’s a much larger conversation going on in theater circles lately about the role of critics, especially as traditional media’s coverage of the arts shrinks and “regular” audience members’ access to publishing platforms grows. So I guess we were on the pulse or something. I’m pro-critic, generally. I mean, I’m clearly pro-opinion. I’m also pro-civility and constructiveness. Unfortunately that can be confused with a desire for no one ever saying anything bad at all, which, clearly, is nonsense. Especially, perhaps, when the subject is Spider-Man.

Aaaaaaaanyway. In a probably unrelated development, that same night i invented a cocktail (the Apple Pie Manhattan) and posted the recipe over at Chill the Glass, which my friend Nick was kind enough to invited me to contribute to. 

Last but definitely not least, my friends at Previously.tv were kind enough to indulge me and let me write about both Smash and the Muppets, which was deeply silly and great fun. More of that coming soon.

So, see you next week? Maybe? 

1 comment:

Heidi Rettig said...

Shows open. Shows close. It IS tacky to rejoice that someone has lost a job. Or 300 someone's. For many patrons, "that kind" of theatre is all that matters. They will stand in line for hours in the cold to get a half price ticket. They may never cross over to see what the rest of us are doing and we have to be okay with that.