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The Globe, The Clock, and the Flip-Flop: How To Fail at Arts Coverage

24 hour party, people?

Seriously, what is the Globe arts staff smoking?

On Tuesday, the broadsheet published a piece by Geoff Edgers -- the Globe's designated arts troll -- in which the author manufactured some petit outrage around a misleading claim that the Museum of Fine Arts was charging an outrageous amount of money to view Christian Marclay's 24-hour film "The Clock," which is sort of the Lady Gaga of contemporary art pieces.

Edgers wasn't about to let the facts get in the way of the story: As it turns out, the film will play continuously at the MFA, the museum is opening for free during a 12-hour stretch following the film's gala opening, and the MFA is promising round-the-clock viewing later in the exhibit's run.

(Also, a point of order: while $200 is a lot for those of us who are used to paying $12 to get into Great Scott on a Friday night, it's pretty cheap as far as non-profit galas go. Where is the Globe's outrage at the Red Sox or Taylor Swift charging far higher for their respective services? This is typical for the Globe, which treats powerful entertainers with kid gloves but, when it comes to the fine arts -- a field in Boston that is relatively defenseless -- it suddenly adopts a laughable impersonation of bullying, Herald-ian class warfare.)

While absurd on its face, Edgers's article was enough to do real damage: Marclay got wind of the Globe's twisted version of the story and issued a statement condemning the display of his own work. Long-suffering contemporary-art fans, say it with me: Only in Boston. 

The Museum of Fine Arts is not perfect, and the Phoenix has criticized the MFA recently for failing to display more local artists. But in charging the MFA with making it harder for regular folks to see the art, Edgers and the Globe are being intellectually dishonest. The museum's recent track record has been in the opposite direction. 

Today, the Globe staged an abrupt and very public about-face. On its editorial page, the Globe offered its own implicit smackdown of Edgers' piece: "Any outrage over $200 tickets for the exhibit’s opening-night party is misplaced," it said. "Early, private access to a famous work of art is an appealing perk. That’s why arts organizations often charge for opening events. By those standards, the MFA’s gala is relatively inexpensive and benign." Quite right. So what was Edgers's article about, again?

If that weren't enough, the Globe also sent out an e-mail blast this morning encouraging its readers to buy tickets for -- wait for it -- the MFA's $200 opening gala. Yep, the same one Edgers was protesting. Subject line? Well, have a look: "You're invited: 24 Hour Party at the MFA!"

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