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September 01, 2007

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Alison Croggon

Hi Isaac - if that's what he thought, that's what he thought. There has to be space for anger among the possible critical responses. "Vitriol" was levelled against me too as an accusation, btw - it wasn't what I said, but "how I said it". I don't buy that distinction - what was considered objectionable was definitely what I was saying! And the explicit aim was censorship of my dissenting opinion. I think that kind of censorship - explicit or implicit - is a bad thing.

Also Jason, quite clearly George's objection is to the play, or at least the half of it he saw. He's quite admiring of the production team. Unless the director is changing the play itself, I doubt that going later in the season would have made much difference to what George said. But he's not talking about the design (which he compliments) or the performances (which he says he can't judge because of the characters they're playing). He just obviously had an allergic reaction to the writing.

Mac

Alison, there are two things I don't understand about your comment:

1) Do you think Isaac's lying when he says he objects to the manner and not the content of George's review?

2) Do you think George is currently under threat of censorship? If so, from who?

Aaron Riccio

Sorry, Jason, I should have put that in better context. I had the same (or at least assume so, from what I've read) comp invitation as George, I just took it as late as I could in the run. My question of ethics is that I obtained a ticket through some form of PH press -- it wasn't press in that there was a press kit, and they seemed genuinely to just want me there, for good or ill, to make a comment about the show, which in my case happens to be more of a review.

The reason I spent so much time on comment boards across the blogosphere delving into Leonard's question of ethics was because I was going to shortly be in the same position and didn't want to cross any lines. Having found no legal or ethical boundary, I went ahead and posted my comments, careful to separate them from any professional work I do on the side as an editor for New Theater Corps.

Obviously I don't think George was wrong to post a review (I've said since the beginning, like Isaac, that my only gripe is with the placement of pertinent information), and since I took PH up on their offer, I clearly don't think they were wrong either. But forums are here for conversation, and it only helps my writing to learn more about what readers, writers, and artists think.

Alison Croggon

I must be boring you all to tears... no, I don't think that George is in imminent danger of censorship. What I worry about is something a little more subtle, the creation of a cultural discourse in which frank speaking is discouraged, and in which criticism is expected to be "supportive"; ie, that if you don't have anything nice to say, be quiet out of respect for the feelings of the artists, who will be hurt. I think that kind of discouragement is a problem: probably not for George, who will go on thinking whatever he thinks, but for those who then, rebuked in advance, self censor before they put fingers to keyboard out of fear that they will be similarly condemned. Is that a healthy for theatre? I really don't think so.

Those pressures can be exerted in all sorts of ways, and a claim that George's review is simply expressing negativity and vitriol is one of the ways. Yes, it's a slasher - as far as the play is concerned. But he backs up his argument with examples from the play, articulates his objections, makes clear that he is distinguishing between text and production and makes clear what aesthetic viewpoint he's speaking from: ie, it's not an ex cathedra claim that the play is trash, but an argued proposition which you can then agree with or not, as your own responses dictate. In other words, aside from the question of his leaving at interval, which is another issue, I think the critique itself is a perfectly valid addition to the conversation, and that its "negativity" should be defended rather than otherwise.

Alison Croggon

PS And no, of course I don't think Isaac is lying. It is definitely a cross review and there are a couple of slingshots (at Isaac specifically) that I'd personally not have done. I just think it's perfectly fine to be angry when work makes you angry, _as long as you say why_. Vitriol is - as I read it - just unsupported spite, and I think there's more to it than that.

Abe Pogos

Isaac,

I can't seem to find George's website on your blogroll.

Have you deliberately removed it?

Technically that may not qualify as censorship, but it feels like it.

Either way it strikes me as petty and dispiriting.

I think it's worth an explanation.

(Incidentally I felt the same way the first time George did it to Scott Walters.)

Ken

Isaac didn't remove George's blog. George is shutting down Superfluities for the time being. To quote George,"I will return to the blogosphere on Monday, October 1, 2007: in a new location, within a new Web site." As far as I can tell it's a decision that had nothing to do with the current fracas.

Abe Pogos

If that's the case my apologies to Isaac.

George's old link is still active so I just assumed it would've been left on the blogroll till the new one was up and running.

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