11/05/2013

Burning Man Responds to Critics

larry harvey interview

SAN FRANCISCO - Facing criticism from ever more popular independent websites and weblogs posting biting commentary and satire Burning Man is fighting back against its critics. Larry Harvey, a representative of the corporation that runs the yearly Burning Man festival, defended the policies of Burning Man on Meet The Press this Sunday calling accusations of mismanagement offensive and absurd.
A certain subset of our community has decided to zero in on our financial practices, our ticket policies, our commitment to free expression, and our adherence to the ten principles. Accusing us of deceiving the community, and guiding it in the wrong direction, is offensive and absurd. These are trumped up allegations and this culture of intimidation is not in the spirit of Radical Expression. We see these opinion blogs and satirical facebook posts as outside the scope of Radical Expression as we know it, and we're not going to let it happen.
Public opinion has shifted as more and more individuals and groups have branched out to voice their opinions on the stewardship of Burning Man on social media, blogs, and websites. While approval of the brand has remained steady at 53% some 31% of those polled feel that "some reform is in order". Of course, plenty of examples show that commitment to the brand and to the organizers still exists amongst brand loyalists, with long-time participant, Rick Hannigan, saying:
We have to keep hammering on. I have had so much fun at Burning Man and I just don't see what all of the fuss is about. This vocal minority, which has to be less than 10% of the community, shouldn't focus so much time on controversies. Burning Man is about Art and Fun, and we should keep it that way.
While it remains unclear how, in the long run, the organizers of Burning Man will cope with the growing number of detractors and commentators they will surely face an uphill battle as the growth of social media increases. The next hurdle for the brand is the upcoming Ticket Season and the forthcoming announcement of the 2014 Art Theme, which is sure to reveal more divisiveness amongst many in the community. Whether or not the brand and the organizers will change in response to the mounting pressure is unsure, but one thing that organizers can likely expect from here on out is that the community appears to be embracing one of the events founding principles known as Radical Self-Expression. For better, or for worse, it looks like the community will continue to express itself in many ways.