re: Michael Riedel on Diversity Etc.
Posted by: BruceinIthaca 04:28 pm EST 01/15/22
In reply to: re: Michael Riedel on Diversity Etc. - whereismikeyfl 02:42 pm EST 01/15/22

I haven't read Riedel's books, but, based on his columns, this does, I agree, feel like sloppy, sloppy writing. I did not see Slave Play, but I did see The Inheritance, which I loved. I tried reading Slave Play when it was published, but grew impatient and bored after the third scene and gave up. Granted, there are many plays that just don't live all that well on the page, but are great when staged, but, in terms of the better-written play, I certainly would have chosen The Inheritance (I know, I make myself vulnerable by admitting I didn't finish Harris' play--guilty as charged). But as someone who also loves Howards End and Forster in general, I was struck by how generally successfully I thought Lopez was in "diversifying" the Forster in his own dramatic expansion/variation on it. And I think somehow charging a committee that gives Best Play to a script by a Latinx gay man is a head-scratcher and may reveal how narrowly some people (not all, not even the majority) are willing to define "diversity." I don't mean that as a racist dog whistle--but simply to indicate it's not a competition between underrepresented groups to see which group represents "diversity" more. Diversity certainly is powerfully centered around race and ethnicity these days, as it should be, but it also embraces gender, sexuality, class (think of "Sweat," for example, by an African American female playwright that wrestles with socioeconomic class), and disability.

John Simon, though one of the most culturally "literate" critics of his day, always seemed to me to be someone who had learned very little about being human from all his citation of the humanities. I think his racism, homophobia, and "looksism" seemed to be driven by his finding the easiest category on which to project his bile. Not that far from Riedel's reductiveness in the column.

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