Image shared on Flickr via a creative commons license by Stephan Geyer.
This may start off sounding like criticism, but it isn’t, more like a lack of an applicable critical language.
At the point I started writing this blog post, in my eyes #suchtweet had lost a lot of its artistic and realistic credibility – the characters were tweeting at a party, about secret things, to each other, about each other, knowing that everyone can see them. There was earlier, hideous, product placement (more later), and the language had turned from the irritatingly truncated to an odd kind of a poesy, apart from Juliet, who got even more screechy
It was really unrealistic.
But so’s Hollyoaks, lots of people watch that.
There’s a danger my criticism becomes irrelevant, and that’s the point at which it’s not about language skill, understanding of the form, theatre or performance. It’s just a story everyone knows, threading into people’s lives.
Such Tweet Sorrow is no longer about the quality or nature of storytelling (art), this is about the power of familiar stories and love.
People love, love. They love the idea that they might give up so much for something so beautiful. They love the idea of love at first sight, and that someone as simple, or normal as they might be fated for someone. And they love to see this in a place they visit, an intimate and constructed space that they go to each day – it’s more inside them (I believe that as we reconstruct ourselves in these online spaces we build others into us), their lives, than film or theatre ever is.
We go through our lives feeling not enough, half of what we should be, the stories shilled by marketing, capitalism and the gaps left by the loss of what the post-modernists termed grand narratives (religion, class, the state) make sure of that. To want to believe in completion is understandable.
Maybe that’s what Romeo and Juliet should be about.
Is there a point at which realism isn’t relevant? Could #suchtweet be considered a piece of expressionism? The way people often act or talk on stage is heightened, why does #suchtweet have to imitate life? Or do the majority of Twitter users use Twitter like a text messaging service – do they tweet about the people they pull, knowing their family see each tweet? Perhaps they do. None of the 600 or so I follow, but by the fact their chosen by one person, not many, they can’t be seen as a representative bunch.
There are still some points on which I feel wholly vindicated in criticising #suchtweet, the lack of response and engagement with anything apart from positive critique is a shame, especially considering their interactive intentions. The biggest want has been for a forum, a place where discussion about the project can happen – look at the engagement with my previous blog post for example – if you involve people in the experiment so deeply, I think it’s right to involve them in the evaluation.
The manner of tweeting before the party scene and morning after had got a lot better – @Jess_Nurse had made considerable improvement in the subtlety of her delivery (I liked this example particularly). I enjoyed the mask trying-on session via tweetphoto, and although @Romeo_Mo’s sudden switch from playa to emo jarred with his previous behaviour, it did feel like a response to some of the criticism, and so forgiveable.
The product placement, however, is not.
Because of how intimate the experience is, because of the way the experiment sets itself up, it is shameful, dangerous, offensive that they would insert advertising into that space. When people have opened up. When people have made themselves vulnerable in two ways – in the way we do when we reconstruct our selves in online spaces, and in the way we suspend our disbelief and trust these actors as real people – to place advertising there, breaks trust.
I’ve taken the #suchtweet characters out of my feed now. I have listed them, and to be honest I think that would have been the best approach from the start. Whether or not it’s chosen to be so, #suchtweet is not for me, or most of the arts folk I’ve spoken to so far. That doesn’t make it bad, art is not a synonym for ‘good’, I do however think it could have been more artistically managed, and still have drawn its current audience, and more.
Should I still be looking at it critically? The fact that the piece is in association with theatre companies tells me ‘yes’, the content and reactions from the fan base ‘no’. What do you think?
To see my previous thoughts on Such Tweet Sorrow, click here.