Controversial Fringe review sparks outrage

EDMONTON – Sunday was the final day for Edmonton’s 33rd annual Fringe Festival but a serious dialogue was just heating up after an online review containing homophobic slurs took aim at one of the shows.

Performer Jason Hardwick accepts a bad review, but he recently came across a review that was more than just a critique of the cast’s work. It took specific aim at composer Darrin Hagen.

“Reading a bad review is nothing. I’m okay with it. Everyone I know is okay with a bad review. If we weren’t, we wouldn’t have gotten into this business professionally,” says Hardwick.

The review – written by a blogger who identifies himself as @FACLC – is filled with a variety of homophobic slurs.

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University of Alberta professor Dr. Kristopher Wells calls it an example of ‘casual homophobia.’

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“It might not reach the actual threshhold of being an actual hate crime or hate incident, but it’s completely inappropriate and really, who suffers the most is the blogger whose own credibility is seriously called into question,” explains Wells.

The writer calls Hagen a “famed Fringe (expletive).” The blogger adds the “(expletive) words and music drag the play down.” He ends his review by stating “the tree of entertainment can easily be poisoned when there’s corrupt lifestyles infesting their musical roots.”

Instead of responding negatively, members of the local arts community launched an unofficial campaign.

In honour of @FACLC’s blog post, the production he reviewed is donating the cost of a Fringe ticket for every Fringe review he posted online over the past week to an LGBTQ charity.

“We’ve decided to donate it to Camp Firefly because I know they do great work with the LGBTQ community and we just want to take all the hate and turn it into supportive love,” said Hardwick.

Other productions have jumped on board with the initiative.

The blogger whose review has prompted so much feedback declined an interview with Global News.

Composer Darrin Hagen is trying to move past the controversial blog entry and focus on his craft.

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-With files from Global News reporter Shallima Maharaj

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