Pianist Dejan Lazic Defends His Takedown Request By Pointing Out That The WaPo Reviewer Is Really Mean
from the wow dept
We just wrote about famed pianist Dejan Lazic’s rather misguided attempt to make use of Europe’s new focus on “the right to be forgotten” to cajole the Washington Post into removing a 2010 review of one of his performances, written by Anne Midgette. The story has gotten lots of attention, and Lazic has posted a response on his website (as far as I can tell, there’s no way to permalink just to the response).
In his response, he insists that many of his quotes were taken out of context, and notes (correctly) that the Washington Post did not post his entire initial request or response. However, his attempt to explain himself doesn’t come off much better. He points out that he knew that the recent court ruling (not a “law” as he claims) was only about search engines in Europe and not publishers in the US — and says he only made mention of it to explain a larger point he was making. That larger point? Anne Midgette is really mean, and lots of musicians don’t like the reviews she writes about them. Yes, as far as I can tell, that’s the extent of the larger “truth.” Midgette is mean and it would be good to shut her up. Since Lazic felt his previous words were taken out of context, I’m going to post a big chunk of text here, all of which seems to sum up “Midgette writes a lot of mean reviews, and that’s just not right!”
In my case, I was inspired and encouraged by the dispute maestro Placido Domingo had to endure in 2011 with the same reviewer: www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/classical-beat/post/placido-domingo-and-questions-of-bias/2011/10/01/gIQAbJwhCL_blog.html
Therefore, I am not only speaking for myself here but also for many colleagues I dearly respect and/or I have made music and shared same stage with, all of which this particular reviewer criticised on so many occasions so harshly and unfairly, in a manner that is – in comparison with all the other reviews they have ever received (good, tepid, and bad) during their long and highly successful careers (in maestro Placido Domingo’s case: 50 years) – simply over the top in sheer negativity and toxicity.
That simply does not comply with the principle of fairness in journalism.
Judging from numerous readers’ comments from the past, I know this is a fact that so many Washington, D.C. area concert goers couldn’t agree with more!
Can it really be that all these artists performed so often so badly, and that predominantly in Washington, D.C. in presence of this particular reviewer!?
So, when can an individual, in this case a creative artist, simply say enough is enough, this journalist has crossed the line?
How powerful and successful can an individual actually be in a dispute with mass media or say, a major corporation?
Only after a scandal, or after his or her naked pictures have been shown in the newspapers or on the internet, or is there such a thing as intellectual harassment and bullying as well?
After how many years would such an article become irrelevant for the society and taken as simply outdated, perhaps downgraded from the top page on Google searches, and when can it be classified as libellous and defamatory?
And what do newspaper editors expect from reviewers?
Putting all these issues back into the context, it is evident that this case is not simply about retracting a single ‘bad review’ from the internet for the sake of one’s own ego.
We have to be able to distinguish carefully between this and the bigger, broader picture of the whole issue and raise important questions for our interconnected society: how much can such regular, frequently horrific and highly destructive reviews by one single reviewer that has been given a chance to write for one of the most prestigious newspapers in the US affect entire generation of young, new potential concert goers, loyal longtime subscribers, sponsors, donors, art lovers and supporters in general, not to mention countless artists, orchestras and opera companies?
How much image damaging for the classical music in general can it potentially generate?
Can such common, abundant, frequent ‘reviews’ actually inspire anyone to come and listen for the first time Washington’s National Symphony Orchestra, visit the Washington National Opera, hear one of the guest artists, or even encourage somebody to learn to play an instrument at any given age and thus become a richer human being and a potential concert goer?
When is such a thing no longer fair journalism rooted in the concept of freedom of speech, and can there still be in the 21st century such a thing as a witch hunt?
Can we like this breed new generation of potential music lovers, concert and opera subscribers for many already troubled and financially fragile classical music institutions on a global scale?
I don’t think so.
He does include a lot more before he gets to that point, but as far as I can tell, the issue to him here is that Midgette is really, really critical and some musicians don’t like it, and thus it’s no longer criticism and somehow… slander? Also, apparently, this one reviewer is helping to kill classical music? Something to that effect, and none of this makes Lazic comes off any better. Yes, there are reviewers out there who tend to be overly critical (and I have no idea if that’s the case for Midgette one way or the other), but that’s hardly a reason to shut them up. Besides, the idea that one overly critical reviewer is somehow leading to the death of classical music is kind of hilarious. Either way, go back and re-read the original in which Midgette is doing what a real critic should be doing. She highlights Lazic’s great talent, and basically just notes that she was disappointed with some of his recent choices. That seems like perfectly valid criticism, and nowhere near anything that resembles defamation or even being uncharitably mean.
Look, people say mean stuff online all the time. Some of it is fair. Some of it isn’t. Assuming that the stuff that you and your friends don’t like deserves to be deleted because it’s so mean, is simply ridiculous. There’s no defense for that.