Playing Nice

There I was, about a week ago, watching the words "yes, I know that's not nice, but neither was his narration" show up on my monitor. I was writing about narrators and audio books and what a difference it makes to have a good match between the material and the voice, using a particular example of a narration by Dennis Boutsikaris that was very much not to my taste, contrasting it with another reading of the same author by George Guidall and gushing unreservedly about the latter. But instead of saying that I wasn't fond of the work, I let loose with my renaming of Boutsikaris. When I wrote the line about it not being nice, I thought for a while, considered rephrasing and then I sacrificed being kind for being funny because I've been sitting on that particular messing with the man's last name for years and it's been making me giggle for about that long. It's snarky, but it's funny. So I decided to go with it.

And then George Guidall left a comment on the post.

My first reaction was akin to the excited squeal emitted by teenage BFFs who haven't seen each other for a long time (e.g., since before history class). My second reaction was to realize that if George Guidall (website up soon) found my post, then so could Dennis Boutsikaris. Because the Internet is that small and sometimes, I forget that, instead feeling like I'm having a conversation with friends in my living room.

I try to lead with kindness, both in my life and on this blog and although I will be opinionated and sometimes ranty, I do my best to limit it to behaviour and opinions - things that can be changed - keeping away from the personal, things that can't be changed because to be snarking about such parts of a person can be really hurtful.

Snark is in these days and snark can be really, really funny, but it requires walking a fine line. I read recaps of reality TV on TVGasm especially because of the snarky, but the best of them, the funniest and the ones I keep coming back to the ones written by people who love the show they're writing about and where that love shines through almost every single snarky paragraph. It's the good-natured teasing of someone who loves you and considering that this constitutes much of the communication in my family, it's something I grok. But snark without the affection too often comes close to laughing at someone, instead of laughing with them.

Some people say that when you choose a profession in which becoming a public figure is part and parcel of that - e.g., actor or politician - you're fair game, but those people usually run around taking pictures of celebrities hiking out for coffee in their yoga pants and without makeup. In my view, you're fair game when you're at work, dressed up and on the red carpet, but when you’re not working, your privacy is an important as mine. And by extension, you have as many feelings as I do and although I welcome disagreement with my opinion (as long as we can have an intelligent, civilized debate instead of belligerent hate mail), pointing and laughing at me will hurt.

So I would like to apologize to Mr. Boutsikaris. What I didn't say in that post but should have, is that when I first started listening to the book narrated by him, I checked on imdb and was surprised. I remembered having seen him in things on TV, enjoyed his work as an actor and wondered what happened in the translation to a narration that made things so different. And what I didn't say, but should have, is that this particular example of his work was not to my taste.

Sorry, Dennis.