Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Then What DID You Mean?

This Nashville review of In The Heights has been making the rounds and the internet is aflame with righteous fury. It's certainly understandable. The original review was removed, but the internet forgets nothing:

What will the American musical do for thematic material when the melting pot has completely turned to ethnic mush and no group is really underprivileged? We might be there already, in fact, which makes pondering sitting through this Broadway “blockbuster” a comme ci, comme ça proposition. In the Heights won four 2008 Tony Awards, but it’s getting harder and harder to know if that’s a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval or a rubber stamp that has to be affixed dutifully to some show or another every year.

Creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s story — book by Quiara Alegría Hudes — tells of a vibrant community in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood, “where the coffee from the corner bodega is light and sweet, the windows are always open and the breeze carries the rhythm of three generations of music.” In other words, an excuse to employ dynamic youthful minority performers who dance and sing and holler to a lot of salsa music and groove on lyrics about Latin loving and partying. Oh yeah, and also about fulfilling their hopes and dreams in the Promised Land of America (specifically, New York City, where the L train plays a lullaby).

This fest of semi-huddled masses yearning to be free encompasses Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Cubans, etc., making it an easy leap to presume their forebears were the inspiration for half the cast of the original production of West Side Story. All that exuberance is great — yet the horns alone might give you a headache. But if you like your ingénues brown and leggy and your music “hot, hot, hot,” this is the show for you.
So... wow.

The website removed the original post, replacing it with an edited version. You can read that here. The editor leads with an apology, which leaves me pretty cold. The thing is, if you read the edited version with the most flagrantly racist remarks removed, there's nothing negative left. So why only one star? If this reason he hated the musical is NOT that it's full of brown folks, what exactly didn't work about it for this critic?

P.S. Who doesn't like their ingenues "brown and leggy"? Nobody worth knowing, that's who.


MYW said...

Wow. That's pretty astoundingly horrendous. The fact that a site would publish that, even "accidentally"--not to mention employ a writer who obviously has some serious racist tendencies, is of definite concern. "Leggy, brown in ingenues" indeed.

Rachel said...

Ugh. This makes me sad for the state of Tennessee. And reminds me why I left...