All right, I’ve got to do another blog about the whole Wayne Dolcefino undercover Eyewitness News 13 thing.
First the apologies: I suppose Dolcefino’s got space to fill, and his job is to make scandal, however hard he has to work at it. I work for Glasstire, and I’ve gotten an HAA grant before, and I myself think a lot of HAA money is mis-spent.
What’s annoying about the news series is that it’s so poorly done. Incendiary, homophobic, prudish and prejudiced, it can have no effect but to strike down the whole of arts funding willy-nilly. It is too mean-sprited to improve anything, or reform anything, or even to catch on to the real misuse of HAA money that is actually going on. All Dolcefino wants is ratings, and that’s too bad for him (no Pulitzer), and too bad for us, if this kind of blood-blind witch hunt is really what the audience wants.
The most recent piece, which aired Monday night, skips around from one ignorant, half-baked attack after another: Dolcefino begins with, “In video we showed on Eyewitness News, you saw a girl make nice with a Dr Pepper bottle. We couldn’t show all the video to you. But you get the point. Is this art?” How are we supposed to know, if he didn’t show it to us? He asks us to judge something we haven’t even seen, the definition of prejudice.
It’s a rhetorical question, of course. He means, “it’s not art”, and so not worthy of HAA funding, but apparently that doesn’t really matter; even if it was art he’s against it: “This has never been an investigation into whether tourism tax money should be spent on art.” Is it art, or isn’t it, Wayne? What’s the point? Is it that the art that HAA pays for isn’t very good (often true), or that good art isn’t something tax money should support? He doesn’t say. He’s too busy frothing.
Ironically, Dolcefino has to use the most provocative, interesting projects HAA has funded as illustrations. “In another video, wannabe caveman try to frighten cars on Allen Parkway. No, this is not a GEICO commercial, this is Houston art.” Those grunting cavemen are interesting- that’s why HAA funded them, that’s why Dolcefino put them on the air to attack them. Poor GEICO has to spend more than the whole HAA budget to get this kind of publicity!
Then he gets to ME. “You know who helps pay for hosting blogs on Glasstire.com? You do. It was $14,200 in your hotel tax money.” (That is, if you stayed in a hotel in Houston, a fact that the report consistently sweeps under the rug.) “But hey, its money to attract tourists and look at how many tourists Glasstire says it reached in its official report to the Houston Arts Alliance – $356,000.” I guess he means 365,000 tourists, and that means each one cost $0.0389, about four cents, surely the bargain of the century. But such math is boring, so he skips quickly back to sex: “aren’t you glad to know they have an audience of 71,203 under the age of 18, so they can watch these videos we’ve described to you?”
I know it’s futile to reason with fools, but I myself got $1900 of that Glasstire money last year, and it pleases me to use a little of it hitting back at Dolcefino’s inept hatchet job.
Apparently the cavemen were not funded by HAA, but merely featured on a video hosted on Glasstire. Apparently they were too interesting to leave out of his lame news story. Excuse me for assuming Dolcefino’s use of the cavemen was even remotely relevant to a critique of public art funding in Houston.