Wednesday, February 20, 2008

First they came for your cigarettes, and then for your arts 

Discussing the recent attempt by bars to circumvent the smoking ban in Minnesota by exploiting a loophole allowing actors to smoke on stage, James Lileks notes:
But the underlying issue is amusing, too: if the legislators want to cinch the loophole shut, this means the state will regulate not only the content of a theatrical performance but the definition of a theatrical performance.

In the olden times, of course, everyone knew what a play was, and what it wasn�t. People standing on a stage thee-and-thouing to a seated audience: a play. People milling saying anything that came into their heads: not a play. But having redefined theater to mean anything its practitioners wish it to be, we accept with shrugs the idea of a spontaneous plotless event as theater. And now the state has to say it�s not. Moreover, the state will base its decision on the intentions of the play�s author. Heck of a precedent.
Delightful, and yes indeedy, it looks like Tom Huntley will be delighted to be thrown into that briar patch.

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