Readers Respond: Petition For Chicago Theatres To Not Invite Sun-Times Critic Hedy Weiss
A petition urging Chicago theater companies to stop inviting Weiss to productions was posted on Change.org on June 13th by the Chicago Theater Accountability Coalition. As of this writing, the petition has received more than 3,000 signatures.
In the petition, the group specifically charges Weiss with having consistently made inflammatory remarks in her reviews.
"[She] has proven that she is not willing to work with us to create a positive environment," the petition states. "She has proven this repeatedly with the racism, homophobia and body shaming found in her reviews."
We asked our readers to weigh in on this issue... here are some of the selected comments.
What do you think? Tell us in the comments below!
David Henderson: The critic's role is not to show support for the play or theatre or theatre community but to critique.
Aingo: The playwright claims Ms. Weiss did a "hatchet job" on his play. By proper support, I can only assume he wanted a good review, which is not the job of the reviewer. I saw nothing inflammatory in her remarks, merely a critique. If a show on racism is portrayed in a ham fisted way, it is not racist to point it out. I think it would be far worse to paddle it along with praise when it wasn't deserved. If you don't like what she writes, don't read it, but I would hope theater doors aren't closed off to those with diverse opinions.
John: I think that the critics hit a nerve, and rather than truly respond to their critiques, you want to throw out the worder "racist" and scare them away without explaining how what they said is an indictment or disparagement of any particular race. Explain how Hedy Weiss calling someone a self-hating Jew is racist... without being ironic.
Heather: I would argue that the petition and the outrage against the article is not about her criticism of the show itself, but of the perpetuation of racism she maintains in not only this review, but others as well. Take out her references to the show, Hedy writes, "But, for all the many and varied causes we know so well, much of the lion's share of the violence is perpetrated within the community itself....Just look at news reports about recent shootings (on the lakefront, on the new River Walk, in Woodlawn) and you will see the look of relief when the police arrive on the scene." That is a unfounded racist statement. I signed the petition not because it was a so-so review of the show, but because repeatedly her reviews are criticisms of skin color and sexual orientation. That sort of disrespect has no place in the Chicago theatre community, or in the American theatre community as a whole.
Willie Sam: Hedy is a venerable Chicago institution. No one is guaranteed a good review no matter of race, religion or sexual orientation. Please stand up to these bullies. It seems that critics are no longer allowed to, you know, criticize.
Richard Becker: The theater world is overrun with snowflakes who only want to hear from like-minded critics who reinforce their world view. Diversity of race, sex and sexual preference is celebrated, diversity of thought, not so much. Cry racism and shut it down.
World Warrier: Opinions are like assholes, everybody has one. Being a critic takes no skill, heart, or creativity to simply judge others. This woman sounds like a loathsome human being. Stop inviting her. Bye Felicia.
Jack Spencer: Sorry, but it sounds like people only want reviews that line up with their own dogma. A threat to free artistic exchange IMO
Timothy Grider: I have always viewed Hedy as the definitive live theatrical arts critic and aficionado. There are many columns I regularly read, but I put Hedy on a critical level with the late Roger Ebert! Theater and performing arts are my great passion, and I have never been offended or miffed by her words......
Patrick Kyle Rose: Best thing to do is don't buy the sun times until they stop using her. Money talks. Or just hire a freelance journalist to review the show and submit it to the paper. I feel most critics aren't aware of what they are supposed to be doing. A good critique is like a poetry explication. One tries to boil a show down to its essence to see if it's thesis was weak or strong. Sometimes that can hurt to read, as truth often is. However, manufacturing false outcomes by imposing ones own views into a work is unconscionable. Impartiality is the cornerstone of a good review. To call the playwright a self hating Jew is ridiculous. What does that have to do with the show? The powers some critics have should be enough to remind them of the responsibility in their writing. This is often not the case.
Rhiannon Jackman: There's a difference between reviewing and saying "I didn't like it" and being rude...
Sharon Cole: I stop reading when I get to the third grammatical error.
Sabrina Miller: For Chicagoans this is not surprising at all.