Wednesday, September 30, 2009


OK, people out there who don't like critics, I get it. You don't like critics, don't think we serve a purpose, wish there were no such thing. It's not worth arguing anymore. I'll trot out my old analogy: arguing over the value of critics in the artistic process with you all is like fighting over whether God is a man or woman to an athiest. You don't believe and never will. That's fine.

I'll offer another analogy: critics are like state-run lotteries. Some people think they're just plain fun, some think they are a vital but unfortunate aspect of the process, still others think they are evil and should be banned. Many don't even give them a second thought. The thing is: critics have been around as long as there has been theater and I expect they'll be around as long as there is any kind of performing arts, television, movies, virtual 3D interactive experiences, etc.

Before state-run lotteries, there were (and still are) illegal numbers games. If I wasn't published in Style, I would still write my opinions on this blog and some people would still be interested in them (even if it was just my wife and children). People have always been interested in opinions expressed in a literate (or even semi-literate) way, which is why newspaper have always had editorial pages.

So the bottom line to me is that, whether you like it or not, critics are here. If you don't like it, for God's sake, please stop reading my blog and wasting my time. My opinion is not worth anything to you, so why do you waste your time reading it?

Beyond that, I'm bored with this discussion and I expect others -- who come to this space to read about theater, not about critics -- are bored as well. So comment away if you like -- on someone else's blog. But this particular topic is closed as far as I'm concerned.


Anonymous said...

Okay!! Everybody get it?? Were not here to talk about critics. We are here to talk about theatre! Not critics. Theatre! And theatre does not involve critics! Got it??? Dave's bored! We will be moving on to things that don't piss,... um, I mean, bore Dave!
But before we do....
Isn't intesting how our public blogger uses an analogy that puts critics in the same category as God and the artistic process with athiest? Hmmmmmmm. Freudian.
Anyway, we are now MOVING ON to subjects that meet God's approval and don't bore him.

Actress, Not Asshole said...

OMG, Dave! What is with this guy? He hates critics but can't stop reading them? Sounds pathological to me. I hope you know this is not representative of Richmond theater people, or at least not the ones I know. I wish I knew who he was because I'd boo him offstage next time I saw him onstage just on principle. PLEASE close off this subject because it's just giving one jerk license to stroke his bruised ego.

Anonymous said...

"So comment away if you like -- on someone else's blog."

That's a strange thing to say. I thought the idea of this blog was to engage conversation. (Why else offer an opportunity for comments?) I understand that you, as blog-master, can choose which comments to publish (that is clear once you've submitted a post.) I now understand that you welcome only the comments you feel you can address. If you don't want earnest responses, then just print your articles, and be done.

Otherwise, I will take your advice, and stop reading this blog altogether. It is, ultimately, an adolescent gossip column. And to all your readers who continue to take part, have fun with your gossip. You're killing our community.

(I wonder if you'll print this.)

Anonymous said...

Actress, Not Asshole...

Goodness! Could you kiss-butt a little more? That "Anonymous" said exactly what I, and MANY (rather MOST) other Richmond Theatre professionals are saying behind closed doors.

Mark said...

I think Anonymous just became a critic. Let's see if s/he can stop criticizing. I'll bet money that s/he can't.

Feels good, doesn't it, Anonymous?

In lieu of anything constructive or intelligent, we eagerly await your snark.

Anonymous said...

Will the REAL Anonymous please step forward!!!??

(We got at least TWO/most like three on this page alone.)

Dan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Andrew Hamm said...

You guys are doing a fabulous job of proving Dave's point.

Anj said...

For a critic who rarely says anything cruel, you must have really laid into Anonymous (or someone he wants to sleep with). I don't recall a review of yours advising someone "don't quit your day job," but anything's possible.
When the rest of us disagree with your reviews, we just mutter under our breath and whine to our friends. Anonymous seems to feel a need to come here and tell you, well, "don't quit your day job."
Man up, Anonymous. Say who you are. (Before you slag me, Anono, Dave knows who I am and most who come here can easily guess.)

Jacquie O. said...

I feel like I am watching The Real Housewives of New Jersey. There is nothing "real" about them and you can't belive what is coming out of their mouths...but somehow you still watch to see just how stupid it can get. Dave - I just hope you are laughing this all off! :)

Anonymous said...

I think it would be fun to see how many times on this blog someone calls someone out for being anonymous. Get over it. It's an option for a reason.

Critics are important. The book reports have definitely gotten old. Am not sure why that ever happened in the first place or why it continues. But sometimes some good stuff comes out in Richmond reviews, this reviewer included and probably more frequently than most, even if I often disagree and sometime vehemently so.

I'm gonna be anonymous too.

Anonymous said...

Here's a thought: maybe the majority of the theatre-going public and theatre professionals actually do understand the importance of earnest criticism, we're just waiting for more consistency. And I believe that's in the same spirit of Mr. Miller's original posting on Bdale's blog.

For each well written review, there seems to be at least four plot summaries and perfunctory accountings of the designers. You are well written, others don't fare so well.

Andrew Hamm said...

Or here's a crazy idea: if you don't like a review, comment on that publication's website about THAT review, rather than attacking the critic in general or critics in general. "Style" has a very easy-to-use web form for leaving comments on each article. I've done it. You can insult the reviewer, or even some artist, to your heart's content.

OR, here's another option: You can write a letter to the editor voicing your complaints. You can even sign it, and they'll respect your privacy. I've done it.

Or you can start your own Anonymous blog. In fact, I beg you to do that. It will make it much easier for me to ignore your consequence-free vitriol.

Dave definitely has one thing above the Anonymous complainers: He has the sack to sign his name to his opinions.