Broadway is officially irrelevant to American culture, and it’s their own damn fault.
A half-century ago, Broadway fare provided rich common content for Americans of all classes, creeds and ages. It was rare when a song from a Broadway musical wasn’t on the Top 40. Cast albums were found in most households. Broadway dramas provided the sources for a high percentage of non-musical movies.
Books could be written and have been about the forces that sent The Great White Way reeling toward irrelevancy, from popular music moving away from forms that told stories taking musical scores off the charts for good, to TV supplanting both movies and live stage as the primary source of drama. Substantially, however, the problem is financial. Unions drove the prices of live theater to an unsustainable level, to the point where most American have no opportunity to see a professional stage show and no desire to spend their resources so recklessly if they did. Broadway shows are routinely priced at three figures, and even far away from Broadway, like near me in Arlington, Virginia, single tickets for musicals often top a hundred dollars. Well, as the Ancient Greeks and Elizabethans knew, live theater is important cultural connective tissue, permitting common experience, group bonding, and mass emotional release. It’s healthy for society, and was once thought to be essential. No more.
That good news was that the average age of the Broadway theatergoer last season was 40.6, the lowest it’s been since 2000. 15% of all theatergoers are under 18 years old,, with the average age at a musical at 39, 51.5 at a play. Got it: more very rich people are taking their kids to see Broadway shows. Meanwhile, the family-friendly shows are not teaching new things or breaking new ground, for they are mostly re-hashes of movies the less affluent kids can see for almost nothing, and are better versions too.. Here are current shows deemed “family friendly”: “Frozen,” “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” “Mean Girls” and “SpongeBob SquarePants,” as well as the continuing runs of “Aladdin,” “Anastasia,” “Dear Evan Hansen,” “Hamilton,” “The Lion King,” “The Play That Goes Wrong,” “School of Rock” and “Wicked.” Let’s see: four adaptations of Disney animated films, an animated TV show, Harry Potter, two hit movie comedies about schools, teachers and parents, and a couple others.
So Broadway producers pandering to families seeking low-brow “culture” have succeed in masking the aging of the core Broadway audience.
The percentage of the Broadway audience made up of people from the New York area continues to rise, with 38 % of Broadway patrons were from the New York metro area, with 20% from New York City. Increasingly Broadway is a local phenomenon.
A question nobody asked: How many people from west of the Mississippi saw a Broadway show last year? Or wanted to? Continue reading →
Next month, Variety magazine will host its annual “Women in Power” luncheon, and will give “Lifetime Impact Awards” to several women in the fields of entertainment and public service.Among the honorees will be Chelsea Clinton. Here are the Top Ten Reasons the ridiculous award starts ethics alarms sounding:
1. The award is incompetent and misleading. Chelsea has done nothing on her own to justify any award. She has been hired for a series of jobs based solely on the prominence of her famous parents, and is on the board of her family foundation, which has funded various humanitarian programs. These are passive achievements that any child of the Clintons would accumulate.
2. The award to Clinton immediately renders worthless Variety’s past and future “Lifetime Impact Awards” to deserving and worthy recipients. It destroys any claim the award has to integrity and sincerity.
3. The award is a lie. Chelsea Clinton is in her thirties, and hasn’t accumulated a lifetime, much less a lifetime of laudable achievements. It is grossly premature, contradicting its own title.
4. The award is cruel. It compels focus on the pathetic, privileged, exploited and exploitative existence of Chelsea Clinton thus far by proclaiming it to be something it obviously is not.Continue reading →
“Following his speech at the Paramount, President Obama’s motorcade traveled to Franklin Barbecue on East 11th Street. The restaurant is well known for its great brisket and extremely long waits, but the president circumvented that using the powers of his office. “I know this is a long line. I feel real bad, but – I’m gonna cut,” Obama said, according to a pool report from the Statesman’s Chuck Lindell. [Owner] Aaron Franklin told the Statesman’s Ciara O’Rourke that nobody cuts the line at Franklin … except Obama.”
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quizof the Day:
Is it ethical for the President of the United States to cut into a line for goods or services?
Can you guess my answer?
It’s not just “no,” but “Hell, no!”
Talk about the Imperial Presidency! There is no basis, justification or excuse whatsoever for the President to cut into line under these circumstances, especially by saying, “I’m gonna cut.” The proper answer to that, my friends, is “No, you’re not, Mister President. Why don’t you ask politely, and maybe everyone ahead of you will be magnanimous and agree?” Continue reading →
Some ideas that brilliant young people have in the technology field should have remained unthought, and if thought, promptly rejected on the grounds that however clever and profitable, they will make the world a crummier place. This is one of those ideas:
From CNN Money we learn that Lenddo, a new financial lending companies (apparently none of the brilliant young people work in the marketing department—Lenddo???) has figured out that one’s Facebook friends, and how friendly you are with them, are a revealing indicator of your credit worthiness. If one of those FB friends is late paying back a loan to Lenddo, their data indicates that it means you are more of a credit risk than if that friend was right on time. Not only that, if the delinquent friend is someone you frequently interact with on the social network, it means you are even more likely to be a deadbeat.
“It turns out humans are really good at knowing who is trustworthy and reliable in their community,” happily crows Jeff Stewart, a co-founder and CEO of Lenddo. “What’s new is that we’re now able to measure through massive computing power.” Fascinating, Jeff!
Oh, yeah, ladies, if you can’t hook one of these gems, you should just kill yourself…
Ethics are built by values, and those whose values are warped and flawed are very likely to engage in unethical conduct consistent with their rickety ethical foundation. Thus it is that I have serious doubts about Princeton grad Susan A. Patton, who in a letter to the Daily Princetonian not only proclaimed her own lousy values but did so as “advice” to co-eds. (I hope the link starts working; it was not earlier today.) In her letter, she wrote…
“Forget about having it all, or not having it all, leaning in or leaning out … Here’s what nobody is telling you: Find a husband on campus before you graduate. Yes, I went there…. Men regularly marry women who are younger, less intelligent, less educated. It’s amazing how forgiving men can be about a woman’s lack of erudition, if she is exceptionally pretty. Smart women can’t (shouldn’t) marry men who aren’t at least their intellectual equal. As Princeton women, we have almost priced ourselves out of the market. Simply put, there is a very limited population of men who are as smart or smarter than we are. And I say again — you will never again be surrounded by this concentration of men who are worthy of you.”
I know: it’s a feature, it’s a gag, it’s not meant to be taken seriously. I don’t care: the underlying attitude behind The Daily Caller’s recent slideshow, “Top 10 People Who Don’t Deserve To Be Millionaires” is too common these days to be emulated, even in half or whole jest. The belief that citizens of the U.S. “don’t deserve” to have the money they do is at the root of toxic politics, bad economic policy, class resentment and self-excused jealousy, and it shouldn’t be encouraged. If there is a genuine and persuasive argument to be made that people don’t deserve the money they earn, then make it, and you have to do better than “you didn’t build that!”
Taylor Bigler, the Caller’s entertainment editor who compiled the list, doesn’t. She just appeals to jealousy, as if nobody really really does resent people who have made more money than they have so its fine to pretend they do. “Now, some people are millionaires because they are ambitious and kept their noses to the grindstone,” she says. “Those people certainly deserve their hard-earned success. But honestly, there are many other people who are millionaires that simply don’t deserve to be.” Like? Continue reading →
It’s not quite Ethics Hero territory, and if you know me or drop in to Ethics Alarms with any regularity, you know that as a lifetime Boston Red Sox fan (suffering through a miserable, injury-riddled season) I would rather perform gallbladder surgery on myself than say anything good about the New York Yankees.
I have to put away my partisan biases, however, at least momentarily, to applaud the generous and completely unexpected gesture by the team at tonight’s game, as the New York Yankees held a moment of silence in honor of Johnny Pesky, the Red Sox icon who died today at the age of 92. Continue reading →
Almost two years ago, I wrote about Washington Post feature writer Gene Weingarten’s provocative and sensitive 2009 exploration of the tragic cases in which a distracted parent leaves a small child in an over-heated car. The issue, now as then, is how society should treat such parents, who are without exception crushed with remorse and guilt, their lives and psyches permanently scarred. Weingarten’s original piece, which won him a 2010 Pulitzer, did not take a position on how such parents should be treated by the criminal justice system. In today’s Washington Post, he does.
“The parents are a continuing danger to no one, nor could anybody sanely argue that fear of prison is even a minuscule factor in preventing this. So we are left with the nebulous notion of punishing, for punishment’s sake alone, an act of accidental negligence that by its nature subjects the doer to a lifetime of agony so profound that it is unfathomable to anyone who has not lived it. Prosecution is not, in my view, warranted.”
Weingarten is thoughtful, analytical, reasonable, compassionate and fair. He is also, in this case, dead wrong. Continue reading →