While reading Carrie Bronstein's blog, I got to thinking about the premise of her most recent post. She writes:
"Last week, I briefly mentioned the particular brand of awkwardness that occurs after watching a friend's less-than-stellar performance, or seeing their sub-par art exhibit, when they ask you, "So, what did you think?" We're all guilty of the little white lie that follows, which usually boils down to a generic compliment. Some of us, and I'll count myself among this crowd, even overcompensate and blurt out, "I LOVED IT." To any of my friends reading this entry, rest assured that I have never done this to you. I am talking about some other friend."
Carrie also includes a video of hers chronicling her own experience.
Here it is:
I also feel very strongly about the importance of supporting the arts and those who produce them for us. Now, having said this, I can honestly say that I can only think of one instance in which I had to tell a friend that her particular form of art didn't quite do it for me. And this is quite impressive as most of my friends are contributing artists.
Now, here's the exception. Years ago a musician friend performed a sax piece I didn't fully enjoy. Incidentally, Carrie's post today made me think of the experience again. I remember enjoying the beginning and middle part of her rendering but the conclusion left something to be desired. At the end she asked us, me in particular, what we/I thought of her performance. I said, 'It was very good, overall. There was a moment, though, towards the end where you paused longer than I thought the piece asked for. Was that an interpretative move?'
The friend got a tad upset by the end of the conversation. And yet I didn't understand why. In my way, I had also paid a compliment to her, I thought, by speaking so highly, as I should have, of the first part of her performance. I did, indeed, enjoy most of her performance just not all of it. For example, I believe Dante's Divina Commedia is one of the biggest contributions to Western literature but, at the same time, I don't care much for the third part of the work, namely, Paradiso. Inferno, on the other hand, i.e., the first part of the work, is simply incomparably superior. My copy of L'Inferno looks raggedy from constant use, whereas Paradiso could sell very well were I to put it on eBay. Anyway, the point is made, I suppose.
To placate the performing friend, I made a big banner, on top of which I wrote Shakespeare's signature line from the comedy, Twelfth Night: "If music be the food of love, play on, give me excess of it."
My friend was very touched by the gesture. She loved it. We went on to attending many other performances (by other artists) after that and now reminisce about the old college days quite fondly. Now, I could have interpreted this experience two ways:
1) Note to self: Next time you go to see a friend perform, leave the critic 'hat' at home and pick up the friend 'cap' instead. Utter a simple "Good job. That was....good!" and then suggest that you all grab a latte.
2) Honesty is always best. You can always apologize using Shakespearean words later. Or not.
3)What think ye?
What do you tend to say to people you know when you see their respective arts and performances?