Who are our Gatekeepers?
It’s hard to imagine, in the world of the Internet, that anyone can stand in the way of any individual creating or enjoying a piece of art. However, there are many who behave as filters, facilitators or obstacles. Our textbook refers to those people in terms of being Gatekeepers and Mediators. The textbook also refers to Theorists, Critics, Reviewers, Dramaturgs, Agents and Marketing and PR people.
In our own time it’s hard to image how one group’s opinion can affect the art that we see. But, in truth these human filters have had great influence; historically and today. In more extreme times, the critics were not descriptive but rather prescriptive. Meaning, critics didn’t just write about what they saw and gave their opinions about it, they told the artists how you could create their art. In the time of Cardinal Richelieu, you could be arrested if you created art that veered from the Neoclassical Ideal. And today it’s easy to see if a group is giving out money, such as the NEA (a government agency created to support the arts), and they do not approve of how you do art, you may not get the financial support to produce it.
Just a few years ago, a Yale art student caused an uprising for telling people that she continually inseminated herself and aborted the fetuses in order to use the blood in her senior project as part of an artistic statement about women’s bodies. Should she have been expelled for such an action as was suggested? (Read the attached articles below for a fuller understanding of this situation).
What do you think it says about that society that holds to strict rules of how art should be expressed? Do you think the government should help support the arts? Should there be some filters in place? What are the roles of the above mentioned gatekeepers? Whether you are addressing the content, form or how the theatre was financially supported, can you look at the theater that you have seen this semester and say what we value or who we are as a society?