As it sometimes does, being in someone else's house for a while makes you think about your own. This week, I'm guest-blogging at Isaac's place and I posted this item, which engendered some interesting conversation in the comments between Josh and Jack Worthing (who I believe has also dropped some comments in here). In both the post itself and in the comments, I acknowledged something that I really haven't before and it gave me a bit of a pause. Since it's sort of a meta-blogging kind of thing, I figured I'd post it here instead of taking up Isaac's blog.
You see, 99 Seats isn't really me. Not exactly. In the same way that "Stephen Colbert" isn't really Stephen Colbert. I guess this is true of most bloggers and probably more true of most anonymous bloggers and anonymous writers. In a comments section that I can't quite find, even Don Hall so much as admitted that the "Don Hall" who writes An Angry White Guy... isn't quite the Don Hall you'd meet in a bar or a rehearsal room. It's not an earthshattering realization. But in the midst of an argument that gave at least one person personal offense and reminded me of how blithely we can say things out here in the internet, it made me pause a little bit.
The person that I am is...well, I hope, nicer. More genial. Less doctrinaire and rigid (in some ways). I'm unleashing part of my personality here, but not all of it. Partly, so I can speak truth to power in some way and say what's really on my mind. Unfortunately, and I hate to admit it, sometimes it is to make a splash, drive traffic or links or whatever (though I don't have any ads, so I don't get paid for it. I guess, like most theatre people, I just like the attention). That I'm less proud of and I feel is less useful.
Is it useful to the field to tar ALL MFAs or ALL Ivy League schools as hopelessly classist and exclusionary? Probably not. Almost definitely not. Does it make for good copy or a good argument? Yes, I think so. Is that worth it? Sometimes...I'm not so sure. In the end, what's useful is a discussion of the role class plays in our field. Do kneejerk comments and arguments get us closer to that discussion? It looks like no. But then again, nothing else seems to, either.
I struggle with this whole anonymity thing on a regular basis. Sometimes it feels like a choke chain. There are things that I would love to blog about, not as myself, but as 99 Seats: meetings I attend, off-the-cuff conversations and comments, shows I see. But I've done that already and gotten myself in hot water.
Sometimes it's freeing. So much of this business is based in hypocrisy. I know I fall into it, but having an outlet and knowing that, even though I have to keep quiet when I hear something that's off or wrong, given the circumstances, I can go home and blow off steam at whomever or whatever, is a useful release for me.
Lately, though, I've gotten a bit paranoid that my secret identity has gotten out, and more people than I think have sussed it out and judge me for it. Or that someone I've offended, either intentionally or accidentally, will "out" me. In my worst moments, I fear that it's hurting my career or work prospects. It's a bit nerve-wracking. Sometimes I think it would be best to just close up shop and move on. Blog under my own name for a while. Sometimes I think it would be better to unmask myself and take what comes.
Do I stand by the things I've written? Absolutely. Even the more bullheaded, shocking or offensive things. If someone called me out, in person, would I respond? Yes. Do I mean them all exactly the way they're put here? ...Not...precisely. Does that make me a hypocrite? Quite possibly. Can I live with that? Yeah.
I don't have any grand summation for this. I'm not planning on a big unveiling, not any time soon. I'm not planning on closing down the store. I do stand by everything I've written here. But that's the thing: it's not really "me." But if it's not me...who the hell is it?
*Cf. And apparently, Cf. Who knew?