05 April 2007

ARG! Jaime Mad!

[Update: Rocco mad, too.]

I don't really feel like engaging the nuances of obnoxious Times reviewers, and whether they are obnoxious, or should be, or how much power they should have, and whether or not Carolyn Cantor's letter to the Edge mailing list was good or not (it was), but I need to address some really frustrating misleading in this recent post by Mike Dressel at Culturebot.

It begins:

For those of you keeping score at home, the Times thoroughly trounced Pulitzer-nominee Adam Rapp's Essential Self-Defense, produced by Playwrights Horizons and the Edge Theater Company, prompting Carolyn Cantor (director) to send a letter to her loyal Edge Theater audience denouncing Isherwood's opinion.

Yes, all true. The Culturebot post has the full text of Carolyn's letter, which I found sincere and straightforward. We run into trouble when Dressel takes issue with the letter's inclusion (he doesn't mention the Playwrights Horizons email blast that did the same) of quotes from, and links to, positive blog reviews:

Of interest, Cantor recognizes in her letter the handful of bloggers who've wholeheartedly embraced the show. A move we applaud. The blogosphere needs to make further inroads into theatre as it has in the areas of politics, pop culture and media, so inviting the blognoscenti is great. What Cantor neglected to mention is that they offered comps to the bloggers and discount tickets to blog readers as a marketing tool and feted them with a "kegger" after the show. (And y'all know how bloggers will show up if there's free booze. Or shrimp.) Cantor then utilized their pull quotes to show that, ya know, "the mainstream" doesn't get it. Even though several mainstream outlets agreed with the Times' assessment, like Variety, the AP, the NY Post (mixed), even nytheatre.com. So, singling the Times out for publishing a review that reflected the sentiments of several other media outlets (and we'd imagine audience members) seems unfair.

This is where I started seeing red. As far as I know, I was the only blogger at the "kegger." It was the under-30 Lock-In, and was not a bloggers' event. It had nothing to do with bloggers, bloggers were not specifically invited, and for the record, I paid for my ticket. I got the information as a subscriber to Edge's mailing list. Patrick, who actually was invited as a blogger, was assured, in writing, that he should write whatever he wanted, positive or negative, about the show. Isaac also has some words. Someone somewhere (I thought it was Isaac, but I can't find the bit now) pointed out how ironic it is that Dressel says, "The blogosphere needs to make further inroads into theatre as it has in the areas of politics, pop culture and media," and then goes on to discredit what the bloggers had to say. [If his thing about bloggers being invited [sic] to the kegger [sic] is actually directed at my response after the under-30 night - because I haven't heard of anyone else being there or writing about the show in that context - I think I did an honest job of disclaiming that my response was as much about the success of the event (high) as the success of the show (less high, but good).]

I tried to write Culturebot to clarify why "bloggers" were at the "kegger." (The beer was bottled, btw.) I got an auto-reply - "because of the insane amount of spam I've been getting at this account I've had to stop checking it." - with no instructions for contacting the editors for non-story proposals. I can't figure out how to leave comments on the page. So I just spew my ire into the abyss, and hope that Mike Dressel googles himself a lot.


MCC said...

roar jaimie roar!
thanks for posting about this.

mike said...

Wow, it wasn't my intention to turn this into such an issue. Your spewed ire was received and I appreciate your response.

Jason Grote said...

Yeah, this is a stupid non-scandal (not particularly your cBot post, Mike, just the media story that seems to be making the rounds). It's similar to the "dirty secret" item in TONY that name-checked you. Is there a dirty conspiracy of theater producers seeking to use the blogopshere to con all those unsuspecting internet people to see theater they wouldn't otherwise see? If it is a scam, they're doing a terrible job of it. And is our upstanding critical establishment really doing such a good job of protecting the audience from bad theater that the comps (which mainstream reviewers ALSO get, of course) are such a huge ethical issue?