This Week’s Insights: Our tortured fascination with reviews… Making fun of classical musicians… a debate about museum admission prices… Does a viral art app teach us anything?… The fascinating reasons Hamilton tickets are obtainable in Chicago.
- They Say Reviews Are Dying. So What Accounts For This? Harsh reviews – the kind that make you sit up and go “wow” are hugely popular. In fact, they go viral with a vengeance that no amount of praise will. Some of us can get addicted to the cruel put downs. “The appeal of negativity to the reader, that mysterious quality which makes the pan and the broadside irresistible, should alone warn the cautious critic of indulging in bouts of vitriol too freely, or too frequently. Harsh criticism has an intoxicating effect on writer and reader alike: both ought to be wary of its influence. Like any drug, censure has its benefits, its attractions and its resounding pleasures. But it is also dangerous.”
- Bad Reviews Are Bad Enough, But This… This Is Just Mean… It’s called “shredding.” Pranksters took a video of a performance by violinist Daniel Hope and replaced the sound with a really bad performance. Ha ha. He wasn’t amused. He sent takedown letters from his lawyers. Then one of the parody video creators, “a Berlin-based concert programmer, dramaturge and journalist named Arno Lücker, was then told that a series he has long presented at the prestigious Berlin Konzerthaus, where Mr. Hope frequently plays and programs a series of his own, would not be renewed.” Is this just the case of a thin-skinned performer, or has a line been crossed?
- A Raging Debate About Museum Admission Prices: The Met Museum started it a few weeks ago by announcing its admission price would be mandatory for out-of-towners. But if you made museum entrance free, does it increase attendance? Research suggests that price is a “secondary” consideration when people choose to go. In Baltimore, museums went free eleven years ago, but attendance has declined after a brief surge. Meanwhile, the Non-Profit Quarterly reports that museums across America are facing an admissions crisis.
- The Viral Art-Selfie App Takes The Internet By Storm: Google Arts and Culture scores a hit with an app that analyzes your face and finds art that resembles you. The thing is a HUGE hit. Why? Sebastian Smee (newly-arrived at the Washington Post), writes that: “What’s great about the art selfie craze is that it efficiently harnesses other, less blatant, but still very zeitgeisty tributaries to the culture: irony in the face of high art; camera-conscious vanity; the obsession with statistical measurement (each match is given a percentage rating); online flirtation (if Google says you look like a Titian, you’re texting your love interest with the news, I guarantee it — and it’s safer than sexting); digital excavation (the Internet’s startling ability to unearth hidden treasures); and, of course, the naughty thrill — truly, a hallmark of our time — of signing over some crucial piece of your identity to a corporate behemoth, purely on trust, and for the most frivolous of reasons.”
- What Does It Mean If You Can’t Sell “Hamilton”? This is the show that is selling out everywhere. And not just selling out – people are spending big bucks to get a ticket. But in Chicago, the demand is a bit soft. “Sales are slowing. Browse the official Ticketmaster website and you will see availability, pretty good availability, for midweek shows in January, and these are not resale inventory. They’re as yet unsold. They will be sold, by show time. But they won’t command the same prices and those weekly grosses will not be $3 million. It behooves “Hamilton” to leave with audiences still wanting more, leaving some room for a return by popular demand.” The possible reasons are structural – and fascinating.