Thursday, August 6, 2009

Another Fabulous Invalid

Well...*sigh* I do actually like Thomas Garvey, in general. It's true. I like his reviews, I like his attitude, I like his blog. But...*sigh* This whole thing is just ridiculous. I'm not even linking to it here. I did before, so you can find it. Despite my own tendency to frag or whatever, I really don't want to keep flame wars going. They're pointless, annoying and just make everyone unhappy. Not to mention they reward bad behavior and poor manners. links. But, in the spirit of the times, I think there's something of a teachable moment here.

This argument, about how the blogging was once a great, open marketplace of ideas and conversation and now it pales in comparison, has been going on in a lot of fields for a long time, most obviously in the realm of print journalism versus (in particular) political blogging. And the arguments are always the same: bloggers are free rangers, unbound by ethics, standards or even basic human decency, fragging willy-nilly and crowding out actual journalists, who have ethics, standard and are paragons of human decency.


Obviously, all of that is bullshit, in so many ways. I will give Matt Freeman a link because his post is succinct and makes all the right points: blogging is not journalism. Writing about current events, sharing your thoughts and opinions is not, by default, journalism, no matter how public it is. And, yes, that means the rules are different and the expectations are different. Also, not saying everything that's on your mind is a different thing than saying something that you don't think is true, or not disclosing a conflict that could impeach your integrity. Yes, it is a kind of self-censorship, but if you're honest about self-censoring, it's not a failing of integrity. Okay? Can we just agree that this is so, even if it pisses us off sometimes?

But, to the teachable part: bloggers, this is what the institutions think of you. Pure and simple. You are untrustworthy, self-interested, probably damaging to the art, petty, and generally uninteresting. We may not want to think it's true, but it's true. We're the great uncredentialed and we don't fit into any assigned slot. Basically, you're not supposed to have strong, passionate opinions about the state of the art unless you're a "critic." If you're an artist, you do your art and that's it. If you're an administrator, you work for a theatre or funder and let the work you do speak for you. Maybe you write a piece for American Theatre or something, but that's the extent of the opinion you're supposed to have. If not, you're just trying to make a name for yourself (even if you're anonymous, natch) and no one wants to support a self-aggrandizing loudmouth. But then if you focus on your work, you're boring.

So. Yeah. Stay used to it. And thank Thomas for showing us behind the curtain.


Tony Adams said...

How does this tie in with the last post about Banana Republics?

Here's the issue I have with keeping silent about things because it may harm your career down the line. If no one speaks up, it'll never change. (And it it'll never change why would anyone want to work there.)

For me the reason it will never change is not because dictators don't have to answer to anyone, it's because no one's willing to speak out.

99 said...

I honestly disagree with you on that point, Tony. There are a lot of people speaking out, but nothing's really changing, at least in terms of the established institutions. Even when a dictator goes down, they're not going to look outside for the replacement.

I don't mean any of this to say keep quiet. I just think we should think differently about the end results.