The Unlimited Potential of Our New Participatory Culture
New Threats contributor Lee Siegel had an amusing column in the New York Observer earlier this month in which he discussed the fallout from a recent event at the 92 Street Y, wherein Deborah Solomon, an art critic and journalist, was to interview actor Steve Martin about his new novel on the art world. The audience apparently quickly bored of the art conversation and weren't shy about letting the interviewer know. It was then, Mr. Siegel notes, that "history was made."
The two friends thought they'd make art the subject of the evening. But the audience had expected Ms. Solomon to ask Mr. Martin entertaining questions about his career as a comedian and movie actor. Not only that, but the people who were watching them on closed-circuit television in synagogues and theaters across the country had come expecting the same thing. You can imagine the letdown.
The people watching on closed-circuit began sending emails imploring the staff at the 92nd Street Y to intercede and press Ms. Solomon to ask snappier questions. Not questions about kvelling over Rembrandt, but about what it was like to work with Goldie Hawn. Back in New York, the members of the audience began to murmur their disapproval. After a few minutes, someone from the Y stepped out onto the stage and passed an index card to Ms. Solomon. It was a note demanding that she talk to Mr. Martin about his career. This defiant message will be remembered the way Americans remember the first shot fired at Concord. Ms. Solomon promptly began accepting questions from the floor. As a result of the general disappointment, the Y decided to give refunds to everyone in the audience.
Check out the rest of the article to understand the full consequences of this "historic occasion." Welcome to the new participatory culture!