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June 14, 2010


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Good point. This reminds me of what the lefty politicosphere calls the "Bender Theory of Discrimination" after Futurama's Bender, who once complained, "This is the worst kind of discrimination: The kind against ME!"

The thing is that we all have biases and-- even when working hard to avoid them-- we all will act upon them at some point. This raises a series of complicated questions, including, as you write about here... What should the person who behaved in a biased way do?

Another, equally complicated question is... what should those who see the bias do? How should they highlight it? I feel like we often have a conversation that just leads to retreat, defensiveness and public shaming, which is not always the best tactical way to recruit allies, even if it is cathartic.


I definitely agree, but it think it's a function of the current power structure defending itself. So much of the language and rhetoric used in discussing bias is about an "outsider" pointing it out. Which makes it automatically adversarial. What's interesting about this piece is that Koerth-Baker recognizes it within herself. When I'm pointing it out about Playwrights or The New Group, it's an attack (or is perceived as an attack), which means there has to be a defense. I wish more people were able to stop themselves and check in, but, frankly, too many people are too attached to their biases and would prefer not to have them called out.

Anne Moore

And even when the person with the privilege isn't attached to her/his biases (or at least doesn't believe s/he is), s/he has to take the public risk of opening her/himself up to just the kinds of shaming and ridicule that so often characterize public discourse around power.

I think you're right on, 99, about how what I think of as the Shrill Factor is systemic--if you're an outsider critiquing an established power structure, the only possible reading of that critique is as sulky/shrill/whining/etc. etc. etc. Again, this is why Koerth-Baker's move feels so brave, since she's also necessarily giving away some of her own rhetorical power by aligning herself with people who have less privilege than she does.


In my company's current production, Can You Hear Their Voices? (an originally all-white revival from 1930), we use blacks to play whites, old to play young, women to play men, and all vice-versa. It hardly seems avant garde to do such blind casting downtown, but most critics have picked on this diversity effort. I don't know if there's such a thing as review-bias, but it does make me wonder about the indirect, opposing forces to diversity in today's theater. I wonder if bigger theater companies are scared away from casting diversity (no matter how much I refuse to be).

moncler sweden

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