As you probably don’t know, Zach Braff wrote a play titled All New People. It’s playing in New York right now. As is often the case with theater productions in New York, New York magazine dispatched someone to review the play. The person dispatched to review the play is not a fan of Zach Braff in any way. He said so in the first line of his review. “It’s oh-so-easy to hate Zach Braff,” Scott Brown wrote. He then went on to devote much of the review detailing how much he hated Braff and Garden State.
Perhaps predictably, he also hated the play, and said so in the first paragraph: “It’s pretty bad, no way around it.” He later added, “But is it just de rigueur Garden Hate that makes me loathe All New People? I don’t think so. ANP kept coming up with original reasons for me to despise it; it’s entirely possible, in fact, to forget Braff was involved at all and reject the play on its own terms.”
Well, when Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence found about about this, he was kind of outraged and emailed an angry letter to New York magazine, which they published online this afternoon. Scott Brown, the reviewer, then responded with an email letter of his own, which New York also published. It’s quite a spectacular pissing match, to be honest, and who doesn’t love a good pissing match?
You hate Zach Braff. You hated him before you saw his play. You say it in your first line. Is it fair, then, that you evaluate his new work? Let’s say I hate cherries. I hate the taste, plus a girl named Cherry broke my heart and, I don’t know, killed my pet turtle by feeding it too many — you guessed it — cherries. Should I be the one to tell everyone how your Mom’s homemade cherry crumble tastes? What am I supposed to do, Scott? May I call you Scott? I can’t talk about how much I liked Zach’s play. I know and love him; I’d be too biased. See the irony there? My only option, then, is to indulge every bitter writer’s fantasy. I’m going to review your review.
Oh yes. This is getting good. Carry on…
Scott Brown’s latest work opens with an Ally McBeal reference, a joke that hasn’t been fresh for a solid twenty years. It then descends into a kind of silent dog whistle that only pretentious tool bags can hear: “hubristically deliberate bid … for the Exhausted Aughts … emo simulacrum of actual feeling.” Scott, do you wear a monocle?
Mr. Brown also manages to accuse Zach of deliberately and arrogantly trying to be the voice of his generation with Garden State, a movie Zach wrote when he was 23. I’m pretty sure he was just trying to get laid. You should try it, Scott. It might loosen you up.
A quick personal note to Mr. Brown. This is hopefully coming off as all in good fun (except maybe the “getting laid” thing — sorry). I read your other reviews. You’re talented. You use the word “bumptious” a lot, but since I don’t know what that means, I’m going to let it pass. I will say this, though: In the age of social media and immediate reader reaction, it’s tempting to skip over the fair critical assessment part (your job). I know the euphoria one can get by spewing clever snark out into the world. I’ve done it. But once that five-minute high dissipates, all you’re left with is the knowledge that you were mean. Too mean, Scott.
Brown then responded with a fictional tale of how a childhood disease turned him into a bitter and angry man. He then closed his email with this: “P.S.: I’m sorry I didn’t like your friend’s play.”
Now, I’ve spent a good part of the afternoon trying to determine who the victor is in all of this. My pals Matt at Warming Glow and Drew at KSK (writing for NBC Local) both gave points to Lawrence. Meanwhile, my friend Richard over at Gawker thinks Lawrence comes off as a whiny ass being overprotective of his friend Braff.
All I know is this: Prior to today, I had no intention of seeing Zach Braff’s play. But now, after this public kerfuffle, I’m actually curious to see the play and am thinking of buying tickets to see it when I’m back in New York in a couple of weeks. So I suppose the real winner in all of this is Zach Braff, no?
Anyway, here’s a video of dude literally couch-surfing. For some reason I feel that Zach Braff could probably appreciate it…