Matthew and Mac do to some measured analysis of the blog fracas stemming from the Mike Daisey incident. Mike receives a perceptive take on the incident itself from old friend and the discussion at Scott’s blog examines the event in a similar vein. Gut reactions are natural, but this is where the conversation belonged from the beginning.
Meanwhile, there’s now also a copycat stalker, Floyd, for Mike Daisey to track down and give a talking to.
What Mike Daisey tapped into when labeling those who walked-out a “Christian group” and the watering of his outline an “anti-baptism” was a willing prejudice active in many of us working in theatre and art. Onslaughts of censorship and campaigns of decency against art have so often been orchestrated from within the Christian Right that artists are quick-to-the-draw when they sense another one. And once our gun is pulled from the holster, we feel almost obliged to shoot at something.
Mike responded to a real attack. So the fact that he initially gave an inaccurate description of the perpetrator is understandable. He experienced the attack as if it were from a gang, not an individual. Yet this initial perception branded the bus tour of teenagers as virtually the Hitler Youth of the Christian Right. The ensuing scandal would have never developed if not for this inaccurate representation.
Even though the Christian Right is nowhere in sight, the scandal is allowed to percolate under the pretense of some Great Debate. Mike Daisey and American Repertory Theatre each have links from their web sites to the video of the incident on YouTube. Little doubt that they are using this at least partially now as self-promotion. Meanwhile the falsely branded Norco High students are left to fend for themselves on each of two YouTube comments pages. Viewing totals today are 7,000 and 118,000.
Collateral damage in the war with the Boogieman gang that attacked Mike that night goes beyond just the branding of the Norco kids as the Christian Crazies. We are also instructing other teenagers, including the 22 kids who remained in the audience that night (referred by ART as the other high school group), that theatre is a battle between Us and Them. “Us” signified as elite high school kids from a private school “studying” theatre as part of their senior seminar. “Them” are public school kids on a bus tour from Anytown, USA looking for a night of suitable entertainment.
From backstage at Back Stage Leonard Jacobs seems to be preparing for a further assault on the Boogeyman in this incident. I asked the journalist about his upcoming editorial. Will he differentiate between the two groups of high school kids in audience that night?