reminds me: I need to get something off my chest about the production of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar
which everyone is talking about -- the one in which Caesar is made up to look like Trump.
The whole idea is idiotic.
I don't say those words because this staging shows disrespect to the current occupant of the Oval Office. We all know that right-wingers embraced a History Channel miniseries about Jesus in which the devil just happened
to look like Obama. That exercise in cheap propaganda was broadcast throughout the world. If the right-wing nutcases now take offense at a production confined to a single stage in New York, I say: Fuck 'em. Treat the evil fascist bastards as they have treated us. If they demand civilized comportment at all times, they should clean up their own acts first
(Here's your first lesson in reciprocity: You want me to apologize for that "evil fascist bastards" remark? I'll be happy to do so -- the moment I am assured that no right-wing site will ever refer to "Libtards" or "DEMONcRATS." Don't expect to live in a world where you get to punch me but I never get to punch back
One reason I decry the Trump-as-Caesar staging has to do with my general distaste for productions in which subtext upstages the text and modern reinterpretation overwhelms the author's intent. Art lasts
; contemporary concerns are fleeting. Don't give me a Caesar
unless it's a toga party. I also like my Wagner with heldentenors in animal skins and Wotan in a horned helmet.
(You may want to check out my commentary on this excerpt from Parsifal
. The replies were gratifying.)
Some of you may now be yearning to give me your rationalizations for absurd "modern" re-imaginings of the classics. Don't bother. I've heard it all before. Mindless repetition of the usual predictable post-modernist drivel isn't going to change my stance.
(Yes, I know that Orson Welles once staged a Caesar
which he intended as a commentary on Mussolini. That, too, was a stupid idea.)
My main objection to staging a Trumpified Julius Caesar
comes down to this: Trump and Caesar have almost nothing to do with each other. One could argue that we're dealing with two populists who demonstrate the ease with which democracy can devolve into autocracy, but that's the only point of similarity.
These two men could not be more different.
After an early political conflict cost him his inheritance, Caesar worked his way up from a position of reduced means. Caesar was intelligent. Caesar was brave. Caesar spoke in complete sentences -- in fact, he was very eloquent. Caesar was a superb leader, respected even by his enemies. Caesar wrote his own books. Caesar did not avoid military service. When Caesar ran for Pontifex Maximus, he comfortably won the popular vote. When Caesar ran for Consul, he comfortably won the popular vote. Nobody ever accused Caesar of being the puppet of a foreign power. Caesar favored serious wealth redistribution from the rich to the poor, and nearly lost his life in pursuit of that goal. In the play, Caesar bequeaths much of his personal fortune to the Roman people -- something which Trump will never do.
Likening an oaf like Trump to Julius Caesar insults anyone who knows anything about history.
In the play, Caesar dies at the beginning of Act 3, roughly the half-way point of the work. Nothing that happens afterward has any parallel to our current situation.
Many would argue that Brutus is the true protagonist of the play. Who is our modern Brutus? Shakespeare portrays him as a tortured, noble soul who loves Caesar but loves the Republic even more. Is there anyone similar to Shakespeare's Brutus on our current political stage?
Who is our Anthony? Who is our Cassius? What modern confrontation could possibly function as a parallel to the battle of Philippi?
Nothing about this theatrical enterprise makes sense. The metaphor completely falls apart -- hell, it isn't even a metaphor.