For Huffington Post: Ensnaring Critics in the ‘Spider-Man’ Web


Below you will find my latest essay for the Huffington Post.

It was written (last weekend, I should note) in reaction to the debate over theater critics “pre-reviewing” Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, as two of the major critics did right before the New Year.

Story continues below.

It’s a subject that will no doubt heat up even more with the production’s newest delay in opening.

My guess, if I were forced to make one, is that the entirety of the New York theater press corps will be seeing the show within the next 10 days by hook or by crook.

And re-reviewing it, too, I’m sure, once the opening actually happens.

The bottom line is that the gate really is wide open.

Here’s a teaser from the essay:

…while one can debate the ethics of traditional-media critics reviewing Spider-Man before official invitations are issued, the whole idea that such critics still operate in some lofty, rarefied universe, with the unwashed masses breathlessly awaiting their verdict before deciding whether or not to buy tickets, is astonishingly 1970 (or earlier) in its thinking. In the real world, traditional-media critics and even some online critics compete constantly, unrelentingly, with the rest of the well-wired world for influence. Traditional-media critics can look askance all they like at twittery chit-chat websites like All That Chat at, or at every theatre-related hashtag imaginable, but the fact is, blog posts can be longer and more substantive than many so-called reviews, and even the occasional tweet can be as informative as the scribblings of the reviewing gods. Factor in the articulate theatre bloggers out there and what we’re really hearing from traditional-media critics is the sound of dinosaurs roaring in denial about the asteroid that detonated in their feeding ground. Those who carp over what Gerard and Winer did are clinging to the idea that they’re gatekeepers. The gate is wide open.