Time Out becomes a tabloid.

In his Time Out New York theater blog, Editor and Reviewer David Cote wrote the following in an article about New World Stages:

Something strange is happening at New World Stages, the five-year-old theater complex on West 50th Street:  you can actually see worthwhile shows there.  Not so long ago, we’d associate the former Hell’s Kitchen cineplex with gimmicky tourist trash (Naked Boys Singing, My First Time, etc.).

I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking I’m ticked off that Cote called my show “trash.”

Well, I’m not angry.  I’m confused.

I’m confused, because I don’t understand how an editor of a prominent publication can make a derogatory statement about a show that he has never seen.

That’s right, my readers, David Cote has never seen My First Time (or Naked Boys Singing for that matter), yet he feels it’s appropriate to comment on the quality of the work.

I’m sure you can understand my confusion.

Making insulting and demeaning comments about a show that you have never seen is simply irresponsible journalism.

Now, Adam Feldman, Time Out’s other main theatre writer, well, he can call the show anything he wants, and he has!  See, Adam actually saw My First Time.  He didn’t like it, and you’ve never heard me make a peep.  Why?  Because not liking My First Time is his right, and it’s his responsibility as a theatrical reviewer to let people know what he thinks.

But how the editor of the theater section can make snarky comments with no firsthand knowledge of the product is shocking to me.  It’s not journalism. It’s tabloidism:  making bold and exaggerated statements to give your rag personality (and I can call it a rag, because I was a subscriber and an advertiser).

And we wonder why people aren’t listening to reviewers anymore.

Oh, and for the record, when I read David’s blog, I had my press agent reach out to David and invite him to see the show.  Perhaps once he got in to see it, he’d like it?  Or perhaps he wouldn’t, and he’d cut it up even more (which would then be his right, and the risk that I’d be taking).

He said he was too busy.

  • Sage says:

    But this is the new wave of “journalism”. People, or actually I should say the people in charge, who run the papers, care more about grabbing the attention of the reader of viewer for a few seconds then actually having integrity. It’s a pandemic that started with TV “New’s” shows; look what’s happened to Fox (not news, I know) and CNN, it became all flashing lights and moving images. Attention grabbers. But it doesn’t need to be. A new’s show doesn’t need a touch screen TV to tell a story. It’s there as a toy. I always like to use New York 1 as an example here. They’re pretty strait foreword it terms of production and what they call news. This sensationalizing the “news” has carried over into everything. And it’s a last ditch effort. People will say anything to sell there product. And that’s the problem. Reviews and or the News is being shown and sold as a product. And it shouldn’t be. As you your post shows, that’s what tabloids are for.
    What about starting a user generated review site, one that’s strictly reviews. There can be an overseeing editor who pulls everything together and the site could take the opinions of all types; first time theater goers, tourists, regulars, actors, directors, tech people. Call it What to see.com or Have you seen.com Perhaps one day we can make is so people in positions of power (the power to have an influence over the run or finical success of a show) think a little before taking the easy way out to meet a deadline. And maybe this pandemic will run it’s course. I sure hope so. Unit it does we should aid in the building of a road to get back to that place.

  • Aaron Diehl says:

    I just recently completed a case study for my marketing class on the Consumer decision making process for Off-Off Broadway theatergoers. It showed that the biggest influence was not reviews but word of mouth ( duh!). But the interesting side was that the 17% of audience members who came to see a show after reading a review, were actually referencing a bad or mediocre review. While I hate to say that any press is good press it made me wonder why someone would read a bad review and still go and see a show….
    I can’t speak for Off-Broadway but for O-O-Bway, the marketing impressions are so limited that you have to rely on every impression to make a positive purchase adopting behavior. But it really screws up the way in which you try to influence your target market if you realize that negative reviews also get them to buy tickets….then again, how many more would buy if they were positive?
    Admittedly the thing that catches you about My First Time and Naked boys singing is because it is dealing with things of a sexual nature , but I’d be interested to find out how many come back for that reason. I’m willing to bet they come back because they enjoy/connect with something in the story.
    (maybe i’ll make that my final project)

  • Majic says:

    Well, First of all i think i am such a strong supporter of my first time, because the night i saw it i took my girlfriends virginity, which i think is a little comical. But i wonder if it is irresponsible for me to tell everyone that i love Naked Boys Singing, when i have never seen it. I bought the soundtrack and watched what i could online and from that i think it should be a great show, so my question is is it also irresponsible if i say that Naked Boys Singing is a great show, even though i have never seen it?

  • Adam Feldman says:

    Loath though I am to wade into a dispute from which I have been explicitly exempted, I do think it’s worth pointing out here that David wrote his blog post wearing his journalist-commentator hat, not his critic hat. His blog was not a review of the show; it was a brief and, I think, astute trend piece. In the course of making a larger point, he was merely drawing on Time Out’s official house opinion on “My First Time” and “Naked Boys Singing,” i.e. my published reviews of them. (Note that he did not mention “The Gazillion Bubble Show,” which we have not reviewed.) Sorry, Ken, but I think you’re overreacting.

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