Thursday, October 7, 2010

like looking in a warped mirror

Over at Deadspin, Emma Carmichael has a fascinating piece on a conversation between Bill Simmons and Malcolm Gladwell as part of the New Yorker Festival. She breaks apart the fragile mythos that allows Simmons -- a highly paid columnist and author -- to play the part of an average joe sports fan in the eyes of the New Yorker's readership. The piece has, I think, a summary of seminar attendees that transfers almost seamlessly to theatergoers:
The New Yorker Festival promotional material has a sketch of a young man and woman walking side by side, presumably headed to some venue in the city where they will listen to famous actors and writers talk about how they got to be so wonderful, and if they're lucky, one of those two will get to stand at a microphone to ask a question that shows the crowd that they, too, are quite wonderful. In the sketch, the guy has glasses and a coffee cup; the woman has high heels and a big bag. They are not walking to the Meadowlands.
(Okay, minus the "young" part.)

As we've argued before, theater exists in an elitist, rarefied market. Attempts to make works for "the people" ignore this salient fact (looking at you, Lombardi). When theater artists try to make their work universally appealing -- or, let's face it, appealing on any kind of mass scale, they look as absurd as Bill Simmons trying to convince us he has more in common, class-wise, with sports fans than the millionaire athletes they watch.

The whole article is definitely worth a read.


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