Over this past weekend, I was catching up on one of my favorite television programs, "Theater Talk" -- you know, the chat show with New York Post theatre columnist Michael Riedel and "the show's producer Susan Haskins."
I found the episode that originally aired on June 26 particularly intriguing.
The dynamic duo convened a critics roundtable featuring Joe Dziemianowicz of New York's Daily News, Elisabeth Vincentelli of the New York Post, Charles Isherwood of The New York Times and longtime critic John Simon (pictured), currently with Bloomberg (Simon was Riedel and Haskins' very first guest during the 1992 taping of "Inside Broadway," the precursor to "Theater Talk," which aired January 4, 1993).
When the subject came to whether critics still had a place in theatre, Simon invoked the late critic Pauline Kael of The New Yorker, who once said, "In the arts, the critic is the only independent source of information. The rest is advertising."
Personally, I couldn't agree more, and I also agreed with Simon when he noted that while you're likely to find critics disagreeing with one another, individual audience members most likely can find a critic they can trust whose voice mirrors their own opinions most of the time.
But when pushed to opine on the place of bloggers and whether they might replace the old establishment critics, Simon lashed out:
No matter how wrongheaded a critic may be, he or she’s always better than the bloggers. The bloggers are the vermin of this society.Does it take one to know one? Or have bloggers really arrived now that Simon -- the man who in 2005 was unceremoniously fired as New York magazine's theatre critic -- is lambasting us?
This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).
In keeping with the new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations that unfairly discriminate against bloggers, who unlike John Simon are now required by law to disclose when they have received anything of value they might write about, please note that I have received nothing of value in exchange for this post.