The Shotgun Blog
Monday, May 30, 2005
Blue Man Group Addresses Union Whiners
In the Metro Newspaper this morning, I read a full page ad taken out by the infamous Blue Man Group. I have been unable to find a soft version of the ad.
Basically, what it comes down to is Blue Man trying to defend itself against critics who are complaining that the group is anti-union.
For our Toronto production, we have hired Canadian actors and musicians, a Canadian crew, as well as Canadian management and support staff. Some of these individuals are members of unions, and some are not. We respect their decisions either way. We are an equal opportunity emplyer and have always been open to all qualified personnel. It is an employee's choice to join a union - not an employer's place to require it.
Bravo. But the Globe & Mail's Kate Taylor on May 7th basically told the Group that they were in the wrong for not conforming to Canada's socialist ideals:
Blue Man Group is the New York-based theatrical company whose popular shows feature three speechless, blue-faced characters playing plastic plumbing, splattering paint on canvases and spewing balls from orifices both real and invented. This weird amalgam of clown, mime and performance art was started in 1991 as a small off-Broadway show created by Matt Goldman, Phil Stanton and Chris Wink, but today, with companies also playing in Chicago, Boston, Las Vegas and Berlin, it's a 500-employee phenomenon.
In all those years, the company has not signed union contracts with its performers in the United States and believed it could operate the same way in Toronto with plans for an open-ended run at the newly renovated Panasonic Theatre (which used to be known as the New Yorker) on Yonge Street .
That's wrong, because Toronto's commercial theatre scene has been built by the members of these associations and if Blue Man Group doesn't work with them it's freeloading off that history. However you may weigh the advantages and disadvantages of unions, the fact is workers aren't going to make steel or cars for free, but people will act and play music for free. Such is the lure of the stage, you may even get somebody to set the lights for free. It is these associations that have, over the years, insisted the work be decently paid and safely executed. By establishing a permanent, professional work force, they have helped build both the commercial theatre scene in Toronto, and a non-profit scene locally and nationally.
Without these workers, the landscape would look much as did before the Second World War, with amateur theatres performing locally alongside the occasional touring company from the United States or Britain. And those who have built a theatre scene have also built the audiences: without this foundation, Blue Man might be able to drop into town for a week or two, but it could never possibly renovate a theatre and stay indefinitely.
In Canada, the situation is clearer: in almost all instances, you aren't a professional stage show unless your actors belong to Canadian Actors' Equity Association (which is not technically a union but rather a professional association).
Why is that? She doesn't say.
For example, this newspaper, never known for being particularly pro-union in its editorial stands, generally has a policy that it doesn't review non-Equity performances [ED: Because the Globe & Mail are commie sympathizers - RG]. Exceptions are occasionally made -- and no doubt one will be made when Blue Man opens -- but that has been the yardstick used for years to determine the difference between the professional and the amateur because it reflects the reality of the theatre scene.
Can audiences tell the difference? Sure they can. Again, there are exceptions, but most of the time if you want to see work that you'll feel was worthy of your $50 or $75 ticket, it is work performed by members of Equity with members of the Toronto Musicians' Association in the pit and members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees behind the scenes, because those are the people for whom this work is a career, not a hobby or a part-time job. With their cheap sets and painfully young performers, the non-union touring shows that do occasionally cross the border and stop in town for a week look like high-school performances, falling well shy of the standard routinely maintained by Toronto companies.
Ms Taylor goes on and on about how the unions have built up Toronto's theatre scene, but she doesn't actually get around to outlining how the Blue Man Group's lack of interest in union labour will cause the earth to shatter and the heavens to rain down fire upon us. She just waxes poetic about the fact that everybody else uses unions... and personally, contrary to her opinion, I can't tell the difference between a union and non-union production, so long as it's done by qualified professionals. Oh, wait. Yes I can - it's cheaper, because we're not paying union fees along with ticket price!
What Ms Taylor does find the opportunity to do is blame America and bash Blue Man Group for being part of the Evil Empire:
Goldman of Blue Man has said his motto is not "When in Rome . . ." but rather "Vive la difference." Trouble is it's his difference that he wants to impose here. He says this is no bus-and-truck show breezing into town for a few days, but a high-quality venture that means to be part of the scene for months to come. Yet, apparently, he's just another of those ignorant U.S. producers who fail to notice they crossed a border at Buffalo.
...into a socialist utopia.
Cross Posted to Girl on the Right
Posted by RightGirl on May 30, 2005 | Permalink
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I long ago gave up reading Kate Taylor..as well as a number of other G&M columnists, for their mindless socialist sophistry. She's typical of a generation most now in their 30-40s, moulded by a slew of vapid postmodern socialist professors...all talking the same empty illogical verbiage; the feminist, anti-American,postcolonial, postmodern, post-thought.. without any knowledge of social structures, ecology, population dynamics, history, no knowledge of logic,of analytic thought. Pure junk.
There is only one factual word to describe unions. Parasites.
Posted by: ET | 2005-05-30 11:45:54 AM
ET: "Kate Taylor... is typical of a generation most now in their 30-40s, moulded by a slew of vapid postmodern socialist professors...all talking the same empty illogical verbiage; the feminist, anti-American,postcolonial, postmodern, post-thought.. without any knowledge of social structures, ecology, population dynamics, history, no knowledge of logic,of analytic thought. Pure junk."
I cracked a couple of weeks ago, after seeing a U/Manitoba prof/"constitutional expert" (who fits your above characterisation exactly) on CBC attacking Stephen Harper as a dictator for trying to prevent the government from "doing its job" operating (this was after Martin's "9 days" promise, and before BS jumped ship).
After 3 years of having Maoist, Marxist, Leninist garbage pushed on me over and over, I've lost all patience with these fools, but this was the last straw, so I sent her the following email (she's not my prof, BTW):
"SUBJECT: Congratulations On Spouting The Party Line.
"I caught you on CBC tonight pimping for Martin, sucking up to Smilin' Jack and (oh-what-a-surprise!) expressing your phony disappointment in Harper.
"Surprisingly cute face, and sexy boots. Pity about your shallow mind.
"I wonder what possible satisfaction you can get out of appearing with a bunch of smug predictable pinkos on a pinko show on a pinko channel, expressing thoroughly unoriginal pinko opinions. Where's the challenge?
"No doubt living off the public tit for so long has numbed whatever debating skills you might have ever had . . .
"Ah well, keep up the good work, and God bless you.
"P.S. If you could think for yourself, and expanded your intellectual and ideological horizons a bit, you would have been embarrassed to be so naive about the moral depravity to which the likes of Paul Martin will sink to pathetically hang on to power."
And only received the following response from some University Kangaroo court:
"It has come to my attention that you have sent an e-mail message to a member of the academic staff of this university that could be considered inappropriate. It is my duty to inform you that we are treating this case seriously and are contemplating disciplinary action."
I know I was impolite and dismissive in my original email to Professor Sexyboots, but I had just had enough of these smug publicly-funded pinhead-pundit talking-head assholes twisting the truth and spreading lies and spouting drivel and smearing and slandering conservatives with impunity, and I was tired of just shouting at my TV.
The haed of the Kangaroo Court, the one who sent the email to me, is the professor who instructed us to watch CBC News as part of a Japanese culture course. That course's curriculum was a model of the range of academic diversity -- We discussed the joys of postmodernism (a playful theory that, according to Professor Kangaroo, "challenges and deconstructs the arbitrariness of "reality", "truth" and "authority""), and compared the theories of French Marxists with those of Italian, English, and American Marxists. Fascinating!
Anyway, my email is really none of the University's business, in my opinion. I never had a class or any kind of professional contact with her. And the fact that she ran off crying to some kangaroo court, all pissy and offended about her hurt feelings, just proves I was right about her living off the public tit for so long that whatever debating she might have ever had have become numbed.
I haven't responded yet to that "Notice of Investigation!"
Anyway, since you are obviously so much more rational and sensible and reasonable and level-headed that I am, what do you think about all this?
It seems to me it's none of the University's business, and her appearing on CBC made her comments and her appearence all fair subject for commentary.
I never insulted her. I just pointed out that she is an arrogant fool.
Any, any suggestions?
Now that's what I call a Cheap Trick!
"The Thought Police, they live inside of my head."
Posted by: Brian O'Neill | 2005-05-30 12:09:23 PM
Brian - they were probably upset by the "sexy boots" comment.It could be construed as sexual harrassment to the frigid feminists among us.
Posted by: RightGirl | 2005-05-30 12:18:02 PM
Brian - stick to your right to freedom of speech and freedom to criticize. 'Discplinary action' - hah. What for? They don't have the right to do anything.
Now, I'm presuming you are a student.
1) You aren't interacting with her as a student. She was never a prof of yours; you were not a student. The university can take NO action against you as a student.
2) You, a private citizen, were interacting with her in her role as a public speaker on public television. This actually means that the university is not involved.
They might try to say they were involved, in a peripheral manner, because you might have used a university-owned computer to send your email. That's a specious tactic; they might try it - but - that would inflame students if the university tries to impose Big Brother regulations on university-owned computers. Is the university going to regulate WHAT you write, on university-owned computers? What if you write your kid brother in that way? Will the university regulate what you write to him?
So- even if you used a university-owned computer, I think that the university can't regulate content.
3)There was nothing wrong or inappropriate with what you said. I don't write that way, admittedly, because I think that emotional attacks don't work. What is most effective, in my view, is cold hard facts and equally cold logic.
But- there was nothing wrong with what you said. You essentially said (in your language), but I'll translate into my language:
a)You were on public television as an apologist for Martin and the corrupt Liberal Party. Why are you supporting such corruption?
b)I can only conclude that it's because of your socialist/communist ideology.
But, since the people with whom you were interacting were all of the same mindset - then, you are a community of believers. Where's the intellectual challenge - to you or to the audience? Why were you all on public television - or - was the show pure Liberal propaganda?
c) A genuine discussion presents a number of opposite views, which can be intellectually and rationally debated. This was not done; it was simply propaganda, a polemic of one mindset. Why? Do you all think the same, in this socialist way, because all of you live off the taxpayer, the public purse? Have you become 'slaves' to the 'master' who pays you?
d) Again- why are none of you acknowledging the corruption of our current government and the theft of millions of taxpayer money?
That's all that you said. There is NOTHING wrong with what you said.
The comment about the face and boots? Irrelevant. Donald Trump gets tweaked about his hair. Don Newman gets made fun of for his voice.
My advice. Don't react; don't comment. They are simply trying to frighten you and others. And, that prof is hiding behind officialdom.
Remember, the university has no right to interfere or oversee any and all communication. As I said, they might say that they DO have that right- over any and all communication even if it's simply a letter to an editor, if it was written on a university computer. But, I doubt if they could get away with that concept; it's too Big Brother to be accepted.
Posted by: ET | 2005-05-30 12:52:01 PM
HI, as for the "sexy boots" comment, I should have just said what I originally meant to say:
"You and your lazy lefty pals all looked like you were haveing so much fun, and when sitting next to a couple of mouldy old bolshies, you looked quite fresh and pleasant, especially when you look so drab and boyish on your website where you do your best to warn us of the dangers of an AMerican Empire intent on rape and destruction, however, no matter how much time you spent in makeup and deciding which skirt and boots to wear, your shrivelled heart is still cold and barren and depraved."
I might as well have just sent that, don't you think?
Anyway, if someone appears on a public TAXPAYER-FUNDED forum, especially on a visual medium, then their appearance is a fair subject for commentary. IMHO
Posted by: Brian O'Neill | 2005-05-30 1:20:27 PM
WOW, ET, would you like to be my lawyer?
In future, if I feel like insulting any of our commissars, I'll be sure to send you a first draft, so you can edit my thoughts into something less litigable (I might have just made up a new word).
Thanks very much for all your help.
Posted by: Brian O'Neill | 2005-05-30 1:24:40 PM
I'm glad I posted that email etc, because when I went to show some of my "friends" here, they all told me I was "waaaay outta line!" and sexist and offensive and blah blah blah...
Posted by: Brian O'Neill | 2005-05-30 1:30:18 PM
Here is some advise. You don't need a lawyer; just stop saying slanderous things about people.
It's called being polite.
Maybe that's an elitist liberal thing though.
Posted by: Gamblog | 2005-05-30 1:41:38 PM
What "slander?" It was a private email. If Canadian law would consider such as slander then you've definetly got some seriouse problems in your country.
It was moderatly sarcastic at best. In fact I would deem it fairly appropriate. Such people as this professor are of the type which should have their toes stepped on regularly. It might shock them into reasoned thought for a change. I've allways been amazed by how such supposedly intelligent (I use such a term guardedly, the good ones do, the poor ones teach, the worst get government grants)people can be so full of themselves to the point of diahrea.
Posted by: Joseph | 2005-05-30 3:29:38 PM
I don't agree that Brian's tone in the email was slanderous, however it was quite rude and he probably could've paused to do some thoughtful editing for a minute before hitting send.
The university's reaction, however is ridiculous. Brian did not threaten the professor at all and he has a right to free speech. Please fight the university on this!
I'm disgusted, but not surprised by the original post by Girl on the Right. Kate Taylor is an elitist. She believes that 'Art' should be officially sanctioned, funded and controlled by compulsion in collectivist systems (be it unions or government agencies). Anything else is "amateur" and a two-bit "travelling" (-read un-Canadian or American?) uncultured and trashy show. I
As for ET's description of the ideological standpoint of way too many university courses in this country (and south of the border as well): succinctly perfect. After a year in university, I began to speak "that same illogical verbiage". My professors at the University of Victoria were bascially attempting to give students a postmodernist, anti-racist, anti-oppressive, feminist, eco-friendly indoctrination. I remember the exact moment (because I can remember exactly the moment my mind awoke again to truth, logic and rationality) I realized that their stance could also quite aptly be described as socialist, tolitarian, racist, and sexist.
Posted by: Charlotte Taylor | 2005-05-30 6:12:07 PM
Dear Mr/Ms "Gamblog",
Thank you so much for suggesting that I should be more polite.
In future, if I need your advice I'll beat it out of you.
Politely, of course.
Cheers to you and yours.
Posted by: Brian O'Neill | 2005-05-30 6:26:34 PM
Brian: Interesting anecdote. Since the MSM recruits its journalists from universities and colleges that impart this professor's mindset there's hardly any wonder there's a far left bias.
Charlotte: "My professors at the University of Victoria were bascially attempting to give students a postmodernist, anti-racist, anti-oppressive, feminist, eco-friendly indoctrination............"
I'm curious (it's been quite a while since I was in university). Was it a specific department (E.g. women's studies) that served this stuff up, or is it more widespread? Do many of your fellow students share your view of the situation? Does anyone complain to the University?
Posted by: JR | 2005-05-30 6:56:49 PM
JR - as a university professor, I'll say that this ideological stance - which is postmodernist relativism, feminist, anti-racist, blah blah..without, frankly, understanding any of these perspectives.. is widespread. It's not confined to Women's Studies Departments (why on earth does one have to have such departments?); it's everywhere. It's heavily in sociology, and political studies..and literature...everywhere.
The thing about postmodernism is that it is intellectually easy. It's pure sophism. You can say anything - anything at all - and it's acceptable. So, the researcher/teacher can spout empty nonsense. No need for research, no empirical requirements, no need for logic. Nothing. Just open your mouth.
I'm sure you've heard of the case of Alan Sokal, the physics professor, who spoofed postmodernist blather, by writing an article..on 'postmodernist science'..which was filled with fallacies, openly wrong data, illogical connections...and wrote it in the postmodernist style of assertion. Sent it to a famous journal..which accepted it and published it! Then, he wrote them, and told them that it was total nonsense and filled with empirically provable scientific inaccuracies. They wouldn't print his rebuttal..which he had published elsewhere. But - it showed that postmodernism is empty rhetoric.
However, as I said - it's extremely popular because it requires no analysis, no proof, no empirical evidence and no logic. Anyone can do it. All you need is some pompous vocabulary..and a lot of words. Our G-G's husband, John Ralston Saul is an excellent example.
Posted by: ET | 2005-05-30 7:33:23 PM
ET - thanks for the insights - very interesting, if not disturbing.
Re. postmodernism - you're probably aware of of the "Post Modernism Generator" website that automatically cranks out essays full of random sentences filled postmodernist buzz-words and bafflegab. Quite amusing. It's located at:
An essay it just pumped out for me was entitled:
"The subcultural paradigm of narrative and the postdialectic paradigm of consensus"
by Stephen D. von Ludwig
Posted by: JR | 2005-05-30 7:52:24 PM
I saw the Blue Man Group when they opened for Moby and David Bowie a couple of years ago in Toronto. I must admit that they blew me away with their talent - it was great theatre. Good on them for not caving in to the tired old union mentality that our North Canuckistan is know for.
Posted by: M Dabioch | 2005-05-30 8:08:52 PM
I saw the Blue Man Group when they opened for Moby and David Bowie a couple of years ago in Toronto. I must admit that they blew me away with their talent - it was great theatre. Good on them for not caving in to the tired old union mentality that our North Canuckistan is known for.
Posted by: M Dabioch | 2005-05-30 8:09:32 PM
Great site, M. Dabioch.
How about this one: "Semiosis refers to measuring or organizing a dynamic process by codifying and stabilizing it within a normative code. The basic focus is on how energy, which is understood as “uninformed”, is transformed into “informed matter” within all realms of our reality: the physico-chemical, the biological, and the socioconceptual realms."
Posted by: LAD | 2005-05-30 8:14:32 PM
I meant, great site JR.
Posted by: LAD | 2005-05-30 8:15:04 PM
That Postmod Generator site also has a great "Poetry" Generator:
Just keep clicking reload for a new poem each time.
Posted by: Brian O'Neill | 2005-05-30 10:57:14 PM
ET: Where are you a univesity prof, I would have enjoyed encountering a professor like you.
JR: Yes, that viewpoint was in a variety of courses. Apparently UVIc is quite notorious for it ( I discovered this later).
The majority of my classmates jumped whole-heartedly (and mindlessly) on the bandwagan. The few of us that asked provocative questions, were dismissed in rude and irrational manners. I was told by a prof on a paper to read Communist Manifesto after criticizing a required reading from 1977 discussion how happy Soviet and Chinese workers were with their productiveness. A Native friend of mine was told she sounded like a dominant white male for speaking about the corruption, waste and patronage on her home band council. In many of my classes students felt fearful to disagree, debate or even question the assumed tenets of complete subjective collectivism.
Posted by: Charlote | 2005-05-31 7:47:34 PM
Charlote - Based on your comments and ET's, I pity all university students who are subjected to such blatant brainwashing. But for those students with minds of their own, and who expect a quality education, the experience must be extremely frustrating and demoralizing. I hope people are speaking out - but if the problem is as widespread as it seems to be, the likelihood of turning the situation around any time soon appears remote.
Posted by: JR | 2005-05-31 9:35:53 PM
Charlote, try and beat this:
* A biology professor asked me if I was "one of those rabid anti-choice types" when I argued with him, after he listed abortion as a form of CONTRACEPTION (?!). The mind reels.
* In a class on 19th Century Russian lit., the prof went on for about half an hour about how "it's a lie that we can get whatever we want in a capitalist system because at McDonald's they wouldn't give me a St. Patrick's Day milkshake on another day." He concluded his discourse with, "But why can't 2+2 = 5?"
* A German teacher, from Germany kept going on about BushHitler. I asked her in what way is G.W. like Adolf Hitler. Her response (verbatim...it's etched in my mind...are you ready?): "Because he quotes the Bible every time he opens his mouth!"
I could go on, but it's too damn depressing.
Anyone else got any examples of "intellectual" idiocy they need to unburden themselves of?
Posted by: Brian O'Neill | 2005-05-31 10:00:35 PM
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