Isaac takes umbrage with this post by Thomas Garvey, which pugnaciously plays a game of 'gotcha' with Emily Glassberg Sands.
I, personally, don't have much problem with Garvey's approach here. It's uncouth and ugly, but I'll be honest: I find it refreshing. If there's anything I've found a bit dull in the blogosphere lately, it's the lack of real argument or criticism. Sands has been showered with attention for her paper, and the report makes some bold claims. That's fair game. If Sands believes she's being lied about, or falsely represented, then she can answer it. Or she can choose, with her far greater reach, to ignore it and let her paper stand on its own. I've no urge to defend her character. Not because I'm heartless, but because the role she has assumed is one of authority. Authority has to be earned, sometimes under fire.
I took utterly mild, entirely ineffectual note of one small problem I could see here, from a layman's perspective. I admire Garvey's honesty and his fearlessness. Do I think he might be unfair at times? It's likely. But Sands has received the benefit of the doubt elsewhere. He doesn't give it to her, and there's nothing at all wrong with that.
We are often distracted by the nature of an argument, as a manner of dismissing the argument itself. We are also are incredibly disengaged from argument in the blogosphere as of late. It's not only on the blogosphere. The US is a place of enforced rules of public conversation. The media asked pre-approved questions. The harshest debates are often sound bite factories, with no blood drawn and not an honest moment to be found. When we see someone actually questioned, even in a mild and harmless way (see Katie Couric and Sarah Palin) we are practically in shock. It's an event all by itself.
I know for me (and this is why my blogging has been remarkably insubstantial at times) that it doesn't behoove me to criticize major news outlets or colleagues or even people I hope to work with someday in this space. Why would I do that? I am not an aspiring journalist: I'm a playwright. It's bluntly foolish for me, in the midst of establishing a career for myself, to make mock of the people whom I hope will review my work, risk offending fellow writers, or other professionals. That's why I often don't review what I've seen here, or write much at length about the work of others. Even if I like it very much, it can come off as overly kind and disingenuous. If I'm tough on another artist... to what end?
It's a conundrum, and I hope to be as transparent as possible about it. My name is on this site, and I don't use a pseudonym. I'm attaching my posts and thoughts to the public record. I am, therefore, cautious.
Here, we have essentially a report by an undergraduate, and still, the urge is to be careful of her, as if she's made of glass. I don't really understand it. I don't see what benefit there is to calling for unilateral disarmament of edgy, even tough, criticism. Garvey isn't cautious. Which is what makes it, for me, so unusual.
More please. Not less.
- Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.