Saturday, September 01, 2007

Moving On V

I am driving a good deal of the upset over what happened with George Hunka and I plan to continue to do so. (You can click here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)

If I may without being pilloried for having strong views expressed strongly, let me explain (well, re-explain) why. Below is part of a comment, occasionally paraphrased, I added to a comment that was left on one of my other posts.

If blogger-critics are good enough and valuable enough to be given professional comps, then blogger-critics should be viewed as part of the critic and journalist community and put on the first- or second-night lists along with everyone else. If you toodle around the Web, you'll find more than one blogger talking about this. I've already received a few emails from elsewhere around the country telling me that this is increasingly standard practice -- I know, for example, that it is the case in Washington, D.C. Seems simple and fair and appropriate.

[this portion of the next paragraph has been redacted at the request of individuals connected to 100 Saints You Should Know.]

And please, please tell me what else George's post could be construed to be? (In an off-the-record phone chat I had yesterday about this, someone actually said, "That's not a review...that's an expression of one person's opinion.")

If what George wrote and posted was unquestionably and indisputably a review (and everyone seems to agree about that) -- a review written and posted in exchange for accepting professional press comps -- why is he exempt from the same expectations as other critics: to wait until the agreed-upon day to publish his review? (Oh, and if Playwrights Horizons did intentionally hide the date of the show's opening, as some suggest, you can find it very clearly in the theatre's press materials as well as on Martin Denton's website and, among other URLs. And what prevented George from asking when the opening is? What's to fear? What is Playwrights Horizons going to do -- say "We're giving you these comps, George, but only if you don't ask us when the show opens"?

My problem is George is only too happy to say this is all Playwrights Horizons’ fault, issue and problem, and that ethical standards in this matter do not apply to him -- that he was offered tickets with no restrictions, that he chose to advantage of it fully, and that he owes absolutely no one, least of all any of the artists that we are all supposedly in favor of supporting, anything at all. The fact that he left at intermission is, yes, a whole other issue, but he could have written and posted the same review whether he had stayed for the second act or not.

Ethical standards must be expected of anyone who accepts professional comps in exchange for writing, publishing, uploading or posting something, including reviews, on their blogs or sites. If it wasn't a review George or anyone else wanted to post, well, hey, post all your want. You want to write a review? Wait until the press day. And I frankly don't care what games Playwrights Horizons wants to play on this issue. If this is what they wanted for Kate Fodor and her play -- great PR and upset and chatter -- so be it.

Blogger-critics are not, and must not be viewed as, a second class of citizens -- what is why I'm harping on the "separate but equal" analogy, which I think is entirely apt (Matt Freeman can disagree all he wants—I’m still using it).

I want blogger-critics to be part of the fray, equally valued, not some relegated second class. Yes, that means adhering to the same ethical standards as everyone else. And what on earth would be so shockingly terrible about that? It would give blogger-critics tremendous respect, power and influence over and above the voice they have right now. And I support that 100%.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Pretty funny to stumble across all this stuff about George Hunka and reviewer ethics...

Back when he lived in Philly, George used to brag about the time an editor asked him to change a bad review into a good one and he did it by replacing the negative adjectives with positive ones - something about them not paying him enough for his real opinion. he seemed to think this was pretty funny.

Somehow I don't think journalistic ethics are a big concern for him.