Thursday, December 11, 2008

Who watches the Watchmen (and women)?

Lots of people watch the watchmen honestly. With roughly 4.3 trillion interested parties watching their every semicolon, theatre critics get banged around an awful lot for their daily bread. I would wager that on any given production the (non-appreciative) critic takes more abuse than any of the actual creators, without so much as their Mom telling them that they’re pretty and did the words in the right order.

But apparently Steven Leigh Morris at the LA Weekly thinks that they need more regulation and tighter scrutiny.

Of course, being a bear of very small brain, I am flummoxed.

Critic-O-Meter is a review aggregator. That’s what Rob and Isaac are doing. It’s what they said they were going to do. It’s a pretty great service if you’re in the greater New York area. I guess I’m not sure why they’re drawing fire for it.

There is a need for Higher Theatrical Criticism. I don’t think anyone is arguing the negative there, if they are I haven’t read them. But it is not every person’s responsibility to fight every fight. If Colin Mitchell and  Steven Leigh Morris feel the need to fight that fight, more power to them and godspeed. I know that Tony Adams over at jayraskolnikov was Critiquing the Critics for a while (before other - more pressing - duties called) and good on’em.

But that’s not what Rob and Isaac are doing. They aren’t looking to have the conversation with the critic. They are looking to provide a place where the existing critical material about Broadway and Off Broadway shows can be found and clicked through. Why this has LA so pissed is beyond me.

This doesn’t destroy any of the deeper discourse on theatre. Isaac and Rob are both very active participants in all manner of conversation, high and low, as pertains to our favorite anachronism. They do it under their own names, in their own spaces.

Blaming a review aggregator for the fact that George Bernard Shaw isn’t going to see [Title of Show] and deconstructing the deconstruction is, frankly, idiotic. I had no idea they MADE strawmen that large. The library didn’t kill Shakespeare. 

Maybe it’s something I’m picking up from my wife, or maybe it’s the 8 years of being called unMurkin, but I grow ever more tired of people deciding what everyone else should do. Colin and Tony, kudos for following your gut, and responding to the gatekeepers. And Mr. Morris, I enjoy your work when I stop in (out here in the provinces I don’t have much need for show reviews from Gomorrah) keep that LA scene on it’s toes, and maybe Travel + Leisure will have y’all a tenth of a point ahead of us next year instead of behind. (I’m kidding, it’s Travel + Leisure and we have ZERO beaches)

But everyone needs to stop bitching about what everyone else should be doing, especially if it’s not touching your work. If you see a lack, a hole on the fabric of our business, step up. If you can’t for some reason, ask for help, or point it out. You want Higher Discourse? There are limitless pixel inches for you to create it any time you want. You want to simply read the Higher Discourse? George Hunka is available 24/7 at

Be part of the solution or go watch teevee.

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