Are You Ready To Get Pissed Off?

On June 20, 2014, Michele Bachmann declared that John Adams’ opera, The Death of Klinghoffer, is “a sympathetic portrayal of terrorism against the Jewish people” (h/t @SoundNotion). Bachmann attempts to portray the Met, and by extension all arts and culture organizations in America, as a champion of anti-Semitism but it is clear that she’s doing nothing more than hijacking this topic as fodder for her lowest common denominator realpolitik gibberish.

ADAPTISTRATION-GUY-017In the end, the Met has have no one to blame but themselves; they attempted to divine a solution that pleases everyone but only ended up in the middle with no one liking them. I’m not certain which is more infuriating; seeing Culture War rhetoric reemerge within the worst ranks of political ideologues or that one of the cornerstone institutions of US culture put itself in a position to let it happen.

Hopefully, The Met managed to parlay their decision to cancel the Klinghoffer broadcasts into a sizable quid pro quo return; after all, if you’re going to sell your soul, you might as well do it for top dollar.

Here’s Bachmann shamelessly parading her ignorance for personal gain (skip ahead to the 10:34 mark). I’d respond to her remarks at greater length but I’m going to take Mark Twain’s advice to heart and refrain from arguing with an idiot, because she’ll only drag me down to her level and beat me with experience.

http://youtu.be/FeQU6hNYVRg?t=10m33s

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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8 thoughts on “Are You Ready To Get Pissed Off?

  1. Drew, I think the only way for the Met not to have “put itself in a position to let it happen” would have been not to program The Death of Klinghoffer in the first place. It’s simply one of those works over which Culture Wars happen in this country.

    Does this mean you’d rather the Met not have scheduled the piece at all?

    • I gave that a good deal of thought when all of this came out but arrived at a conclusion that controversy isn’t the issue inasmuch as the counterproductive decision to partially appease. The opera has drawn plenty of attention in its time but we haven’t witnessed this sort of byproduct before and there’s very little chance of seeing it as anything other than a self inflicted wound (unless there is info that has yet to be made public).

      • Which sort of byproduct (that we haven’t witnessed before) do you mean?

        If you mean appeasement, I should think that the refusal of two of the opera’s commissioning companies (L.A. Opera and Glyndebourne) to actually stage the piece would qualify. If we haven’t seen more companies cancelling planned productions since then, that’s surely because companies didn’t want to touch it in the first place; perhaps one could consider that anticipatory appeasement.

        If you mean the Culture War salvos by the likes of Michele Bachmann, those people will glom on anything they think will get them media attention; if they happen to glom onto a project we care about, maybe that’s nothing more than bad luck. We (the collective “we”) can’t decide we’re going to undertake or avoid projects just because the likes of Michele Bachmann or Rush Limbaugh will fuss about them. And whatever the Met’s reasons for canceling the Klinghoffer HD transmission, I tend to doubt that the likes of Michele Bachmann figured in the decision.

        • Sorry for the confusion, I was referring to general protests, not the appeasement. But per your final paragraph, I think that’s exactly the point and had the Met not made an issue out of it by opting for the appeasement approach, I sincerely doubt any of this would have drawn attention from the sort of people like Bachmann.

  2. It’s conservative talk radio word salad. The only way I can keep the ulcers away is to convince myself that she’s doing an elaborate decades-long satire a la Stephen Colbert.

  3. ” I’d respond to her remarks at greater length but I’m going to take Mark Twain’s advice to heart and refrain from arguing with an idiot, because she’ll only drag me down to her level and beat me with experience.” Soooooooo true, Drew! Bachmann continues to try to stir interest in herself on the national stage by taking these ridiculous positions. It’s unfortunate that her MN constituency tends to think like she does which is the reason she continues to win re-election (although she has stiff competition this year). I often wonder if she truly believes everything that she says because I think she’s an intelligent person. But then, people do believe what they want to believe most of the time, and I can see her falling into the category of easily dissuaded with colorful claims.

    Thanks for writing this post, Drew.

    Cinda

  4. A typical politician. The opera was written after the death of the actual Leon Klingoffer and was not greeted by all of this craziness from the likes of Bachmann and her friends at the premier. Frankly, some of the best music ever written has a political edge to it; but what Bachmann and her friends are missing in this whole thing is it’s about he music, the opera itself. It’s not about whether it’s a political statement or not. But this event shows just how crazy the United States has become in light of what happened in 2001. I suggest that someone tell Michele Bachmann that not everything ha sot have a political edge to it or be performed for politics sake or in other ways and means be connected to politics at all. Hoping for sure we won’t find her running for office next year. All we need is a namby-pamby who won’t leave the between-the-lines things alone.

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