Criticizing the Critics

Criticizing the Critics

More update than correction, New York Magazine’s Vulture “fixed” the misrepresentation quoted in my last post. It now reads like this:

And debate still rages over the Mike Daisey affair! Nick from Rat Sass thinks Mike faked his outrage over a mass walkout from his show, eager for publicity.

This new form of “publication” coming out of mainstream press is very strange. Nothing ever really needs to be retracted, just tweaked in an updated edition. I wonder if I got all pissy again, whether they would fine-tune the “representation of my representation” another notch. I think Mike hyped his outrage more than faked it. Our Reverend Al Sharpton often does a similar turn when issues concerning race become news.

The Mike Daisey scandal has segued into a new fracas. Bloggers have been criticizing the critics for their anti-Christian bigotry. Critic and editor and backpedal expert Leonard Jacobs recently broke ranks with his anti-Christian colleague, critic and editor David Cote. David had gone too far even for Leonard with his, “Religion is bad theatre for stupid people” line from his review of Young Jean Lee’s Church. (Update: Did someone say Meooooow!) Bloggers Scott, Isaac, Rob, Mark, and nick have also questioned the fitness of the Cote line.

My guess is that both David and Leonard regret the flaunting of their biases. Editors parading their peculiar prejudices are not likely to enhance the credibility of theatre reviews appearing in TimeOut and Back Stage. Most readers still expect objectivity, or at least the pretence of such, from their consumer reports on theatre.

Coincidentally, theatre critics are under added scrutiny across the ocean as well. The director of the National Theatre, Nicholas Hytner, opened the debate by alleging that veteran reviewers are “dead white men” unable to review female directors without bias. Thea Sharrock, Michael Billington and Lynn Gardner all weigh in on the subject at the Guardian Arts blog.

the critic by herbert cole
The Critic Herbert Cole, fl. 1900

2 thoughts on “Criticizing the Critics

  1. I haven’t backpedaled in the slightest, and haven’t any biases to flog. Whereas, by comparison, you seem intent upon hauling your own biases around like some woebegone Job.

  2. Leonard,

    You presented your rant on the religious right as preview to the editorial you were going to write for Back Stage. Not even close. If you didn’t backpedal from that position, what would you call it?

    The group that left the theatre that night was not Christian Fascists, as much as you and Mike and others wished they were.

    As for your characterization of me, I accept woebegone Job as a fair synonym for the Rat Sass persona I have assumed.

    Can’t we all just get along?

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