re: Well, sorta
Last Edit: Singapore/Fling 06:45 pm EDT 07/28/20
Posted by: Singapore/Fling 06:43 pm EDT 07/28/20
In reply to: re: Well, sorta - Michael_Portantiere 04:35 pm EDT 07/28/20

Oof, these are some strange knots you're tying yourself into, projecting onto me (if I read it correctly) a discomfort around having "Porgy and Bess" lead by a female creative team. Whatever, I don't, and anyway, it would be okay if I did, as long as I admitted it and learned from it. Having one's sexism called out should be that easy.

Also really easy: just as it is our obligation to see race, we must see gender. There is no such thing in our society as being just "artists" or being just "people". People who "don't see race" or "don't see gender" are contributing to the problem by ignoring the systemic oppression that our society is built upon, as well as the unique perspectives and backgrounds that each person brings with them. I encourage you to pick up any book on antiracism to get more insight into this.

Now, did I bring up the subject of whether his response was based on their gender? No. I acknowledged that he was writing in response to women, because he was. The simple act of stating this fact this seems to have led you to try to erase their gender ("he wasn't writing to women, he was writing to people"), or make their gender the center of the discussion (because the moment that we acknowledge a person is a woman, suddenly we've made the conversation "about gender", as if there is such a thing as a person who exists outside of gender). You did that, not me. (Though, I'm not surprised you did that, and that is partly why I thought it was important to state the facts.)

As for Sondheim, I don't know what's in the mind and heart of an 82 year-old man defending his favorite show by attacking his fellow artists (who are women). Knowing the culture Sondheim came from, I do suspect that there is bias, likely unconscious, that he is acting on. But I don't think that this is nearly as scandalous as you do. Just as we must acknowledge that people can aim to be antiracist and have moments of racism, we must also acknowledge that people can aim to be antisexist and have moments of sexism. It's not easy to consider these moments - and yes, ask those questions that you so desperately want to ignore - but they can bring us to learning and change.

As we haven't found a similar letter by Sondheim directed to male creative teams, I do wonder if it was easier for him to lash out because they were women. But I know from this board (and I include myself), that we can all get insane when our favorite shows are under attack (or we think they are). So maybe Sondheim is just quick to anger when it comes to "Porgy and Bess" and he would have attacked anyone who proposed making those changes. Either way, this one letter doesn't define who he is or change the brilliance of his artistry and humanity. But we do our humanity a disservice by ignoring the complexities and contradictions that we all carry within us.

Previous: re: Well, sorta - Michael_Portantiere 04:35 pm EDT 07/28/20
Next: There is little that Sondheim reveres and loves as much as Porgy and Bess - AlanScott 01:09 am EDT 07/29/20

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