I Heart Goat Orgasm

Sylvia, the Goat
Sylvia, the goat

I have a great idea!  Let’s write a play where a business man has a family and a seemingly perfect relationship with his wife.   But (and here’s the kicker!) it turns out he is having a sexual affair with a goat.  Yes, as in “baaahh.”  

Dadgumit!  I just got word that the idea is already taken.  LAB! Theater, a UNC student organization, has produced the play “The Goat, or Who is Sylvia,” a drama which seeks to shock.  The playwright, one Edward Albee, denies this, however.  According to him, the play was written in order that the audience may “imagine how they would respond if they were in such a situation.”  Um….

And, as exciting as the whole goat sex thing is, the depth of the art does not stop at that.  No, that would be much too urbane.  The business man’s son has recently announced that he is gay.  But, that’s not all folks!  There is an awkward scene in which son and father exchange a kiss.  Albee expressed in a Los Angeles Times interview that he was surprised that it was at this moment that people began to walk out.  In other words: sex with goat, okay; making out with the son, not okay.  Well, at least we’ve got that going for us as a society.

Imagine if this play had been one that made light of homosexuality or some other obsession dear to UNC.  Imagine the review that it would receive in the DTH and the offense that would be taken by the general student population.  There would be much investigation.  The Young Dems, the BSM, and the Campus Y would probably all protest the play.  There would be a call for an ethics query due to Student Congress having supported the organization.  And, after a week of hoopla, the director would apologize and resign, be charged with a hate crime, and end up in prison.  But sex with a goat?  Eh.  Whatever, dude.

Now, I have it on pretty good authority that student fee money was not used to fund the play, but that is irrelevant.  Lab has been funded by student fees before and it has asked to be funded again next year.  I also have it on pretty good authority that the acting by our fellow students was superb.  I do not doubt that it was.  Actually, I helped out with LAB! once last year, serving as an assistant stage manager.  During my time there I was very impressed with the talent  of those whose acquaintance I was pleased to make.  Nevertheless, when I think of the lack of outrage and offense taken by the student body over events such as this one ( the “I Heart Female Orgasm” event is another example), I cannot help but feel rather like I live in a parallel universe. 

51 comments

  1. to question the funding of a long-standing organization based on a production which one has not seen, to suggest (albeit hypothetically) that the director would be charged with a hate crime, and to call into question the validity of a world-renown and highly lauded playwright is a bit much, to say the very least. I appreciate that energy has been focused on the play as a piece of literature versus attacking the students involved (which one would see as the next step in an article equating choosing a piece of literature for further exploration to committing a hate crime), but it is unfortunate that such an article must be written, involving such extremes, when the blogger has neither read nor witnessed the play beyond a basic summary of the plot.

    and yet, in writing such a piece, one must come to the conclusion that Albee’s goal has been met, and therefore he, as well as the organization in question, have accomplished their ends.

  2. I am not concerened with Albee. Let him write bad plays. I am upset with our student body that does not seem to care that their student fees are paying for an organization that produces such junk.

  3. Edward Albee:

    Awards

    * 1960 Drama Desk Award Vernon Rice Award – The Zoo Story
    * 1963 Tony Award for Best Play – Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
    * 1967 Pulitzer Prize for Drama – A Delicate Balance
    * 1975 Pulitzer Prize for Drama – Seascape
    * 1994 Pulitzer Prize for Drama – Three Tall Women
    * 1996 National Medal of Arts
    * 2002 Drama Desk Award Outstanding New Play – The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?
    * 2002 Tony Award for Best Play – The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?
    * 2005 Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement
    * 2008 Drama Desk Award Special Award

    Nominations

    * 1964 Tony Award for Best Play – The Ballad of the Sad Cafe
    * 1965 Tony Award for Best Author of a Play – Tiny Alice
    * 1965 Tony Award for Best Play – Tiny Alice
    * 1967 Tony Award for Best Play – A Delicate Balance
    * 1975 Drama Desk Award Outstanding New Play – Seascape
    * 1975 Tony Award for Best Play – Seascape
    * 1976 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Director of a Play – Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
    * 1994 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Play – Three Tall Women
    * 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Drama – The Play About the Baby
    * 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Drama – The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?

    Edward Albee, for the love of God, please continue your streak of writing such “bad” plays.

    Granted, the source for this list was wikipedia……2 or 3 of the of the Pulitzer nominations could be debatable, so excuse me if the actual count is closer to 3/4 instead of 5. I did not have time to verify my sources.

  4. I think that anyone who wishes to write about the play should have seen it beforehand. To write a critique without any idea of what the play is about is just absurd. Albee makes things difficult and complex; the father has quite a hard time with his son’s sexuality, just as he and his mother have a hard time with Martin’s zoophilia. Though I’m disappointed in the decorum of the Carolina Review in publishing madly without a substantial basis for critique, your anger and gut reaction are exactly the kinds of things that Albee was hoping to inspire. What are the limits of love in a liberal society? Does it matter? If so, why? Use challenging art to ask challenging questions.

    1. "The limits of love in a liberal society?" When it comes to "zoophilia," is that really a question? Who honestly thinks that is a "challenging" question?

  5. I fail to see the substance that constitutes this article as an investigative report, as is the stated goal of the Carolina Review.

    I applaud the effort of the Review to “increase dialogue among students and stimulate productive discussion,” but would suggest that further research be invested in articles which seek to do so. Productive discussion is in fact impossible when the initial stimulus relies solely on sweeping accusations and broad simplifications. This is further offensive when said accusations are based on loose, second hand information.

    I found this article neither entertaining nor informative, but was instead astounded by the obvious disregard of accurate reporting, particularly when critiquing (as previously stated by sf) a long standing, highly reputable performance organization, a celebrated American playwright and an award winning piece.

    In the future I hope that the Carolina Review will strive to publish articles with more integrity. (May I suggest, as a start, enrollment in news writing, a fantastic course offered through the School of Journalism and Mass Communication which teaches not only AP style, but the ethical and practical standards of this craft).

  6. …but as you said, student funds weren’t used for this year’s productions…

    so future and past productions’ use of student money should be determined/judged by a production entirely funded without “official money”? why not just be graded in your classes by your work in last semester’s courses? big brother much?

    also, good point, tl, i think it’s interesting that you didn’t see the show…or perhaps it seems, read the base material..and yet you can judge it?

    perhaps, in that case, i could project that the unc students should be outraged at the close-mindedness and lack of knowledge of dramatic devices of jlcrowde, and perhaps he/she should be charged with the crime of judging what you don’t know… and for that matter lack of knowledge of how these plays are picked (they must be approved by the University)

    and i hope you can take that joke

    but alas, this is simply one alum’s opinion (who did see the show) who knows that everyone else (including jlcrowde) is entitled to his/her own thoughts…but when you write about a specific situation with which you have no connection or experience, it often comes back to bite you in the butt.

  7. yeah I’m so sick of the first amendment too…

    I heard there’s a play where a heterosexual couple sits around talking about their days and then their perfect children all come home and they sit around laughing and playing boggle.

    Why can’t lab do that play??
    Its almost like theyre trying to promote diversity of opinions…

    also, I’m sure Albee would respond to this with ‘oh, take a joke.’
    But then again, you would have had to see the show to know that

  8. I must confess I don’t really understand the point of this article. Are you lamenting the fact that the community did not rise up in arms upon hearing about this play? Or, as you put it, this “junk”?
    In my humble opinion, before one goes around criticizing famous playwrights renowned for their ability to question society’s notions about what is or isn’t acceptable, one should at the very least read the work in question. And it is a play, and meant to be seen. Funnily enough, it was readily available to be seen because it was produced by a theatre company which does, in fact, receive money from student congress, and therefore does not have to charge admission to its productions. There were 6 opportunities to view this fantastic play, 5 days to do proper research before writing an article based solely on conjecture.

  9. I have also never, for example, experienced a mugging. But, if I were to write an article about mugging I would most assuredly take the side of the victim. Also, I do not consider reading reviews and interviewing people who saw the play basing an article upon “conjecture.” Also, the “take a joke” line was in response to CW’s remark about hate crimes and SF’s unwarranted offense.

  10. and if one were writing about a mugging, wouldn’t one read the official police report in the process rather than base his article solely on other people’s reports of the crime?

  11. Interviews? Hmm…then why no quotes in an article based on people’s responses? Why no sources? Wouldn’t that then give some credence to your claims, you know, if you had “eye-witness testimony”?

  12. undoubtedly jlcrowde read reviews of the play, or even read it. jlcrowde at least researched the author and quotes what albee’s said about the play

  13. Wow, Justin Crowder, will you marry me? You clearly represent the height of journalistic and intellectual superiority. Can I gift you an AP Style Manual as a token of my affection?

  14. yeah, there are some occurences where you need to use secondary interviews….yes, like robbing

    but i have a feeling most would agree that when it comes to published literature/dramatic work, it’s a bit juvenile (and a bit reminiscent of the high school dilemma of, i have a book report due tomorrow, let’s just google the damn thing) to judge a work based on an article….

    yes, you have a right to make your opinions based on what you’ve seen, but if you feel so strong as to publish that opinion, you should do your research, or be comfortable with having your mistakes/misstatements pushed in your face.

  15. I would just like to note that nobody has pointed out any mistakes or misstatements that the blog post author made. Whether the playwright is superb is a matter of personal opinion and, quite frankly, taste.

    Factual mistakes != differences of opinion.

    Let’s see some specifics.

  16. By the way, it’s OK to dislike the work of famous authors and playwrights. The author is not legally obliged to like the themes and play topics chosen by a Pultizer Prize winner. Nor is he obliged to enjoy a certain type of food just because it is made by a world-famous chef.

  17. What mistakes/misstatements are being pushed in jlcrowde’s face? from what i can tell, people don’t disagree with what jlcrowde said occurred in the play, just jlcrowde’s opinion of that content. isn’t that a fair assessment of the criticism?

  18. the issue here is not whether or not he has to enjoy the play, but whether or not he has in fact seen or read it in order to make a sufficient claim, and whether any of this warrants questioning the funding of a student group based on a wikipedia article he read (or, perhaps, CliffsNotes) about a play said group had every right to produce.

  19. You all are being rather thick about this. He never says LAB! should be de-funded. He just asks the valid question, “Well, if a group put on a play that questioned the morality/validity of homosexuality/transgender/whatever, would the reaction be the same?” The answer, as blatantly obvious as it is, is no. GLBTSA, YDs, et cetera would be up in arms. Yet when a group puts on a play questioning the boundaries of traditionally accepted morals, no one is concerned. No one asks questions.
    This isn’t a review of the play or anything like that. He merely questions the double standard in place. And that is perfectly acceptable even if he hadn’t seen the play.

  20. The whole, “don’t knock it till you try it”, motto is bullcrap
    my opinion would have been the same without having to have seen the play.
    it was crap.

    personal opinion….no matter how “world-renowned” this playwright is. excuse my irreverence. you seem to have none for peoples’ opinion. only because it falls contrary to yours.

  21. Well as it seems Justin agrees, I will assume that that indeed was the point of the article (if I’m wrong, please correct me).

    Justin actually said “make light of homosexuality” which is very different from questioning the morality/validity of something. I can assure you that nothing in this play is taken lightly, nor should it be. The problem with not seeing/reading the play is that you have no idea how the subject is presented, dealt with or what conclusions (if any) are drawn which means that you then have no idea what questions to even ask. All you’ve done is look at the basic plot points and say that people should be up in arms about it. I know many people who are indeed asking questions after seeing the play and are also very offended by the material. The play not only addresses the issue of beastiality in a very complex way, but it tackles homosexuality as well and I would argue doesn’t put it in a very appealing light at all. Of course since you’re not familiar with the work, you don’t know this and can’t discuss it. It’s so unfortunate that we can’t have an intelligent conversation about this because you chose to remain ignorant towards the subject you were writing about.

    I hope that if I ever read this blog again that you’ve abandoned that ignorance for some semblance of journalistic integrity and respect.

  22. To quote an earlier commenter: “This isn’t a review of the play or anything like that. He merely questions the double standard in place. And that is perfectly acceptable even if he hadn’t seen the play.”

    Perhaps the author does not wish to have a conversation about the details of the subject of the play, since he finds them repulsive. Perhaps that is also why the author may not have wished to see the play. This reveals that the author looks to a moral standard with which this play does not comply.

    Ignorance of the details of something which one finds repulsive is sometimes appropriate – even intentional. To study the details would be to validate the playwright’s purpose, with which the author may disagree.

  23. Mr Tuttle, if you had actually read the article jlcrowde was saying “what if a play made light of homosexuality…” Read it first, then criticize. Speaking of integrity and respect…

  24. The claim that Albee’s play makes “light of” the father having sex with the goat clearly means that the author clearly has not see the play. The characters in this piece grapple with and are devastated by the father’s actions, as is the father himself. “The Goat” in no way “makes light of” his sexual relationship with a goat.

  25. Where does the author ever claim that Albee “makes light” of the father having sex with a goat? I have this sneaking suspicion that you guys can’t read…

  26. Dexter: I completely believe that that could be a possible explanation, but Justin didn’t say that was why he didn’t see the play. So despite the fact that you’re putting words in his mouth, we’ll still assume that you’re correct for now. I applaud the notion that he’s holding steadfast on to his morals, but it’s a very closed-minded way of looking at the issue. I feel like we have a difference of personal opinion here which is perfectly fine, but I personally think that not seeing something because I disagree with it is childish. I like to see things I disagree with because then at least I’m well informed on the subject and have grounded reasons to disagree instead of just blindly holding on to my ideals. This explanation is just an excuse not to actually have to question your own beliefs or ask any hard questions. Oh, and also, guess what, the playwright’s purpose is already validated whether Justin sees the play or not, so don’t give him so much credit. Albee is not sitting in his living room hoping that little old Justin did him the honor of going to see his play.

    JQS and Miter: I did read the article, thank you very much… please try and understand my point before you go trying to attack me personally. What I was saying was in response to; “This isn’t a review of the play or anything like that. He merely questions the double standard in place. And that is perfectly acceptable even if he hadn’t seen the play.” Also the quote from the article “imagine if this play had been one that made light of homosexuality,” seems to me to imply that the author thinks that the play “made light” of bestiality, which is completely absurd (and obvious if you saw the play). No one would be up in arms if the play were indeed about homosexuality because it is not, nor would be handled lightly. So long as the play handles it’s subject matter with respect and shows multiple sides to the issue, why wouldn’t you want to see it? It’s just going to show that as long as you haven’t seen or read the play then you can say you’re questioning a double standard over and over again, but you have no actual basis to say that the double standard is there because you have no specifics or facts to back you up.

    Justin, if you would actually like to talk about this with me (I directed the show so you can look up my real name), I would be more than happy to do that. That is of course unless you want to do so while you’re still ignorant towards the issues at hand, in which case I won’t waste my time. We did this play to promote healthy discussion, but discussing the basic plot points you found on google is not what I had in mind. I’m happy if you disagree with me, I just ask that you actually be informed, because guess what? I don’t condone bestiality. That’s all you’ll hear from me on the subject, but like I said, please contact me if you actually want to have a conversation instead of commenting on a silly blog post.

  27. “I applaud the notion that he’s holding steadfast on to his morals, but it’s a very closed-minded way of looking at the issue. I personally think that not seeing something because I disagree with it is childish.”

    The viewpoint that morality exists is not a close-minded way of looking at the world.

    Make the distinction between being ignorant of the facts and not participating in activities which are not consistent with your moral code. For example, if you believe that lust is wrong, you would not buy a Playboy magazine. Would that be a childish decision? No… rather, it would be a mature, adult decision based on principles and not on a whim.

  28. 1)
    zdexter- “To study the details would be to validate the playwright’s purpose, with which the author may disagree.”

    But the playwright’s purpose is to provoke a dialogue surrounding sexuality and the the societal norms of love. Albee by no means whatsoever justifies bestiality or belittles the subject; instead he chooses it as a means through which he hopes the audience comes to consider such notions as the limits of acceptable love, betrayal, etc. Perhaps if this play had been written earlier, he would have chosen homosexuality or transexuality, but as those forms are more acceptable these days, they aren’t as effective for Albee’s purposes.

    Thus, jlcrowde’s reaction is a valid one, and I don’t think any of us really have a problem with his disliking the work or the morality of content. The problem I believe, is with the claim– “I am upset with our student body that does not seem to care that their student fees are paying for an organization that produces such junk.” — when his reaction helps prove the purpose of such forms of art. Our anger is not due to his reaction to the play’s content, but rather that he wants to stifle the possibilities for other such reactions by dismissing the theater as crap.

    2)
    “Imagine if this play had been one that made light of homosexuality or some other obsession dear to UNC.”

    a) I don’t believe that play makes light of bestiality. True, Albee’s dialogue is hilarious, and perhaps this is what you mean by “making light of” (which I’m surprised you realized given that we assume you didn’t read the play). But I believe the hilarity comes from the fact they we as audience members are allowed to remove ourselves from the tragedy of the play. It’s like when you see a couple in a fight- to the outsider it’s pretty hilarious (or maybe that’s just my morbidity), but to those involved, there is a very real sense of tragedy, rage, etc. Similarly, for those involved in the show, there is that sense of sadness, betrayal, etc, and that is the action they play, but for the audience at times its utter hilarity– largely because we ourselves aren’t a part of it. In this way, Albee appears to highlighting the absurd condition of the human spirit.

    b) Albee does reference homosexuality a lot in the play, and many of his jokes revolve around this subject including:

    “I don’t give a s— what you put where”
    “he’ll straighten out- to make a pun”
    “bright as the sun(?), gay as the nineties”

    And at one point the father calls the son a “f—ing faggot”. Granted the homosexual content isn’t as central as the bestiality, but it’s still there and not presented in the greatest light.

    3)
    “The Young Dems, the BSM, and the Campus Y would probably all protest the play. There would be a call for an ethics query due to Student Congress having supported the organization.”

    I highly doubt that this would happen. Most of the intelligent people on this campus recognize art as a means for questioning, structuring, and restructuring how we view our society and humankind in general. Particularly with theater there is that goal of “as if it ’twere to hold a mirror up to nature”.

    4)
    I believe Martin (the main character BTW) is an architect, not necessarily what I’d classify as a businessman

    5)YP
    “The whole, “don’t knock it till you try it”, motto is bullcrap
    my opinion would have been the same without having to have seen the play.
    it was crap.”

    You, sir….I don’t even know how to respond to that

    6)

  29. 6 cont)

    For now, I’ll concede the point that accolades do not necessarily indicate talent– as shown by Kanye West’s Grammy nominations.

  30. “But the playwright’s purpose is to provoke a dialogue surrounding sexuality and the the societal norms of love. Albee by no means whatsoever justifies bestiality or belittles the subject; instead he chooses it as a means through which he hopes the audience comes to consider such notions as the limits of acceptable love, betrayal, etc. Perhaps if this play had been written earlier, he would have chosen homosexuality or transexuality, but as those forms are more acceptable these days, they aren’t as effective for Albee’s purposes.”

    As conservatives, we believe that true progress lies neither in questioning nor pushing boundaries of acceptable behavior, but instead in upholding that which we believe to be true.

    Social conservatives seek to conserve a moral code by arguing against dissent from that code on an intellectual rather than personal level. We understand that this method is more effective and tolerant of those with different views.

    To that end, we promote things that correspond with the standards that we believe will lead to a better society. We see no contributions to a better society in things that seek to push boundaries for the sake of pushing boundaries.

    Also, I am saddened to hear that characters in the play attack homosexuals on a personal level. I am not amused in the least by these ad hominem attacks.

    While I am not going to judge the parts of the play for which I am ignorant of the content, I do disagree with the playwright’s intentions (if you have stated them correctly). As a conservative, I believe that discussion about pushing boundaries of acceptable behavior is unproductive and will only lead to division between the boundary-pushers and the traditionalists.

    We believe that people are free to choose their moral code. But that does not imply that we believe that all moral codes are equally true or right. There will always be conflict between the boundary-pushers and the traditionalists, but it does not have to be divisive. True progress will come when realize that there can only be one truth, but that people are welcome to have their different views about what that truth is. In other words, true progress will come when we realize that our debate over morality is not a zero-sum game… rather, it is a winnable game, but it will be won peacefully and by finding the truth and not by accepting everything as truth.

    This is the meaning of true tolerance. And this is why Mr. Crowder is entitled to his views about morality and what is acceptable and what is not.

  31. Okay, so I saw the play. I highly enjoyed it. Yes, it does deal with sensitive material. But I do not see how you can comment on a play that you did not see. The issues dealt with revolved around human nature, and the flaws in human society. For example, dealing with our problems. No, the play does not condone bestiality or incest. Yes, it does discuss them, and when the viewer leaves the auditorium, they will most likely be thinking about such issues. If you have a problem with the material portrayed, there is a simple solution: don’t go see the play. But don’t slam the play based on personal bias. The actors and directors did a phenomenal job, and the issues in the play were not taken lightly, although it did have its comedic moments. Anyways, I thought the play was awesome. If you feel differently, then that is your opinion. However, try actually being open minded and seeing the play instead of just lambasting the play on the basis of your principles. The play intended to make you think, and have an open mind, not attempt to convert the masses in to becoming practitioners of bestiality.

  32. I think you are missing the point. Conservatives have an open mind toward what is good and right… and social liberals sometimes do not have an open mind toward the idea that this is OK.

    Our minds are open, and we judge things based on our principles.. and dismiss those which we do not believe will contribute to true progress in society. See my above post for a full defense of this position.

  33. Again, where the heck does the author say the play took these issues lightly? Nowhere. The only sentence is imagine if a play took the issue of homosexuality lightly (or critically), leftist organizations would be up in arms. He contrasts that with the reaction to this play, where the issues of bestiality and homosexuality were presented (nowhere does he say lightly). No one raises a fuss even when the play stretches the boundaries of traditional morality. You guys may infer what you will from the author’s writing, but what you guys are doing is just making stuff up. Get over it.

  34. So part of the concept of the play was to question the “limits of love in a free society.” Obviously, Justin believes love should not be applied to sexual relations with goats. (To say nothing of homosexuality.)

    Why would he have to read or see the play in order to have that opinion?

    The implicit suggestion in Justin’s article was that writing a play about such “junk” is, irrespective of “complexity,” naturally going to be somewhat sympathetic to the protagonist goat-adulterer. For someone with very passionate moral beliefs, there is no ambiguity on the issue of bestiality. Thus, there is no reason to produce a play sympathetic towards the act.

    I think the relevant contrast here is a hypothetical play that questions the limits of, say, rape in a free society. Should rape be limited? Is it bad?

    “Use challenging art to ask challenging questions.”

    Yeah, right. Unless you don’t think its a challenging question.

  35. I think that your blog does a disservice to this university by pitting opposing opinions rather than encouraging civil, constructive and engaging discourse. Shame on you for perpetuating our differences and for blindly leading a discussion that was intended to spur argument and disagreement (which was clearly you goal and is far different than facilitating dialogue or creating productive discussion).

  36. I thought this article stimulated a very productive discussion. We talked about the meaning of the play, the author’s intended meaning, our criticism of the play as something intended to generate certain types of reaction, our point of view on morality, and others’ points of view on morality.

    The article was “civil, constructive and engaging discourse.”

    Agreement for the sake of agreement is the only shameful pursuit here.

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