‘Rocky Horror’ review review: Mary L. Clark responds

Posted on 24 Sep 2014 at 12:26pm

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Yesterday afternoon (Tuesday, Sept. 23), Dallas Voice’s executive editor of life+style, Arnold Wayne Jones, posted this blog criticizing this review, by Mary L. Clark, associate critic for John Garcia’s The Column, of Dallas Theater Center‘s current production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Arnold’s blog obviously generated a lot of discussion. It has, as I write this, been “tweeted” nine times and “shared” or “liked” on Facebook 401 times. I was out of the office taking photos of Gay World Series opening day games, so I missed the uproar. But I heard about it this morning.

In my email was a response from Mary L. Clark. I read that, then I started reading Arnold’s review of the DTC production and then his post criticizing Mary Clark’s review. Then I got a call from John Garcia. I don’t think he was satisfied with my response because I didn’t agree to delete Arnold’s blog about Mary Clark’s review. What I am going to do, though, is post Mary Clark’s email here on our blog — find it below — and give folks the chance to see what she had to say. I think that’s fair.

And also in the interest of fairness, let me say these two things: I believe that some of the language to which Arnold objected has been changed in Mary Clark’s review posted online at The Column. And John Garcia stressed that some of the language to which Arnold objected — including the word “lifestyle”—  were, in fact, direct quotes from the production’s director, Joel Ferrell, that Mary Clark found in an interview with him elsewhere.

On a personal note, let me say this: I would not EVER presume to critique a theatrical performance or a movie or a restaurant or a theater/movie/restaurant critic. I would totally suck at that. I mean, I loved Sharknado and potato chips and some beef jerky from the corner convenience store are my idea of fine dining. So I don’t feel comfortable criticizing either Mary Clark’s review of the show, Arnold Wayne Jones’ review of the show or of Mary Clark’s review, nor do I feel qualified to comment on John Garcia’s complaint that it is unheard of for one critic to so publicly criticize another’s work.

Here is Mary L. Clark’s response:

Hey Arnold, I got home late yesterday evening and had a call concerning your commentary on DallasVoice.com and the comments posted afterward. Was surprised to say the least and thought it a good idea to go over some things.

First, I didn’t know you read any of The Column’s reviews, so thank you for reading mine. Yes, I am a true Mrs. Malaprop — I did mean “free love” — thanks for the correction.

As for culling from Wikipedia, well not really, but facts are facts. I read several articles on The Rocky Horror Show and, as you read our reviews, you’ve certainly noticed they often include the history of a play or musical as our readers appreciate some background on a piece.

That you didn’t like my writing style, I can’t help you there. We all have our own opinions and I thank you for yours. You wrote your review on the basis of being a gay man and I wrote mine on the basis of not seeing any labels at all.

Apologies to Foe Destroyer — I have a friend named Zoe, and even after proofing three times, the word just went by me. Even you made the same error Arnold, and that’s all it was, a human error.

But now, to the real reason you wrote your commentary, my using the words “lifestyle” and “choice”.

I can see where you would think I meant being gay is a choice. Of course it’s not.

No, the word “choice” refers to being open to one’s beliefs, sexuality, or anything. The word lifestyle is defined as “the habits, attitudes, tastes, moral standards, etc. that together constitute the mode of living of an individual or group”.

To choose to live your life openly as a gay person is a lifestyle, and that is how I used it. Throughout my adult life I’ve heard many friends and others who are gay talk of it being their lifestyle. I cannot be sorry, as that means that I was at fault. I can, however, apologize if my choice of the words offended you.

The information I got on Joel Ferrell’s vision and choices in directing the musical came from an interview in another magazine where he says, “… we’re going to work to confuse you on gender identity as much and in as many ways as we possibly can”.

Me saying, “I never thought about gender equality when seeing Rocky Horror” means just that. In the 20+ times I’ve watched the film, never once did I view it as a banner for homosexuality. I saw it as a crazy, fun movie about people who weren’t afraid to be who they wanted to be and reveled in their differences. Early college days and being in theatre is a great time to learn about that!

Arnold, you forgot to include that my statement “don’t be worried you are going to be pro-gay rallied or asked to make any choices other than to have a really good time” came AFTER I wrote about the film, and now musical, not offending me, and that we see wilder things on TV, in video games and in magazines. But after my description of the characters, the costumes, and some of the scenes, I did not want our readers to think DTC is rallying around homosexuality any more than they are rallying around heterosexuality . . . and isn’t that the point after all, and what Ferrell was after, to blur the lines?

And here is a good place to note that only you used the phrase “catch gay”. I found it interesting that so many of people that commented jumped on the same phrase, the phrase only you used.

I’m not upset about your commentary. Thank god for free speech. What made me sad, though, were comments made by several people I met after the musical. I’m disappointed that my true self and my beliefs were not reflected in all the fun we were having talking about the show, the clothes everyone was wearing, and the audience reactions. That they met me, hopefully formed some opinion of me, but then made inaccurate decisions about me based on your commentary is truly the saddest part of it all. Oh, what the power of speech can do indeed.

Regards to all,

Mary L Clark

(And yes, Kent Boyer, I worked for Dallas Voice, mainly writing theatre reviews and one huge feature article on being a production assistant for the JFK film while here. So that would be around 1988 – 1990.)

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