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Monday, March 06, 2006

The NYT and Hollywood: ya gotta laugh

The New York Times really supports free speech, except when it is certain kinds of speech.
The polemics and outrage in the theatrical community last week after the New York Theater Workshop postponed its production of "My Name Is Rachel Corrie" might have been as intense as the uproar the company feared had it actually presented the play.[...]But what made it a more volatile act was that by declining for now to offend with the play, the theater violated the most sacred principles of our artistic temples.

Those principles are: Thou shalt offend, thou shalt test limits, thou shalt cause controversy. If there is an artistic orthodoxy in the West, it is that good art is iconoclastic and provocative, and that any pull back from this orthodoxy is cowardly and craven. In this distended context, the New York Theater Workshop's act was heretical.

Isn't it wonderful to know that the New York Times is courageous enough to defend a play that promotes someone who supported terrorists and insulted America publicly?

Somehow, the "newspaper of record" cannot find the newsworthiness of some cartoons that spawned months-long deadly riots to actually show what the Muslims are rioting against - but that's not heretical, that's being "sensitive."

Sort of like the Oscars last night congratulated themselves incessantly on taking on important social issues, being brave enough to stand up to a Republican administration that they accuse of censorship but not once mentioning Theo Van Gogh, a real filmmaker who was really killed for actually making a film that was really important - and even feminist. You see, bravery against fictional censorship is to be celebrated, but actually sacrificing your life for an ideal that Hollywood does not currently support is not worth mentioning.

It's easy to be brave and to defend free speech when there is no real threat to you for speaking your mind. Stay in your circle of same-thinking pals, trade stories about how you each faced down the leashed barking poodles and congratulate yourselves on your fearlessness. Maybe in a few decades they'll show a film montage about you in front of a room of people in tuxedos and evening gowns who consider themselves brave.