Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Who The Hell Do You Think You Are, Laura?????????????????

                                         I knew ENCORES was going to do "Big River" around this time, but it didn't figure in my plans, because, frankly, having seen the original 1985 production, it was, to be completely honest, never one of my favorite musicals, anyway.  It just did not click, for me.

                                          But I always scan The New York Times Theater section.  And when I saw the ENCORES production reviewed, labeled "A Bit Ill-Timed," I wondered about that, for a second, then turned to other things.

                                           Once I saw, in "Playbill," how this had escalated into artistic controversy, I went back and read Laura Collins-Hughes' review.  And I had to agree with her critics.

                                              Yes, as for the production, the review was basically positive.  If there were some reservations (even fine productions ca have weak links) she would have been right to state them.

                                               But when she turned to the tenor of of our times, and how everything put out for artistic consumption should be in accordance with the values of 2017, she lost me.  Laura was speaking for the Millenials, that group with no sense of social awareness or historicity.  In one passage, she says Mark Twain should not be rewritten, (gee, thanks, Laura!!!!!!!!!!!) then goes on to lament the fact that Jim, the slave is the only substantial Black character in the story.

                                                I mean--Laura!!!!!!!!!!  Have you read any pre-Millenial fiction?  Have you even read Twain's book?  While I don't think it is America's greatest novel, (I make more of a case for "Moby- Dick's " validity, there!) it is an acknowledged masterwork by a master author, who happens to be criticizing the tenor of his times.  Its universality proves it transcends time and place.

                                                 As do most great works of art, but Miss Laura cannot see that.  In limiting creativity just to what reflects the current social and political era, she would seek to limit artistic freedom, and decry all that is gone before.

                                                   I stand with Jack Viertel, Rocco Landesman, and others in their criticism of The Times' printing this review by Laura.  If that is how she approaches art, then she should never have been given the assignment.

                                                   As a Baby Boomer, I thought The New York Times hit a low point, when it printed, on April 23, 1972, Joyce Maynard's "An Eighteen-Year-Old Looks Back On Life."  Four and a half decades later, I can see it for what it was-- youthful inexperience and hubris.  Which Joyce herself, to her credit, has admitted over the years.

                                                    But Laura hasn't that excuse.  Her piece is a slap in the face to those of us who care about art, and preserving it.  Her review smacks of servitude to the Trump administration, who would like to dismantle all art, culture, and freedom of thought.

                                                     Sig heil!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Videolaman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Videolaman said...

Hmmm.... I had the opposite impression of Miz Laura's inane review. I didn't read her as pandering to Trump: she's parroting the same old tired, trite, self-loathing, ill-conceived "faux-progressive" point of view that has poisoned every page of the Times for at least the past decade, if not 20 years.

Trump and the right have plenty to answer for. PLENTY. But they are not responsible for this typical-NYT, suffocating, soul-destroying, insincere PC crap. The suppression of historically-accurate satiric fiction, particularly Twain's work, is an ignoble stain on civilization perpetrated solely by our very own "progressives", whose bizarre catechism goes something like this:

"Blacks have been oppressed throughout American history. The N word was used in the old (and not so old) South to de-humanize them. Whites cannot possibly understand that oppression, so any novel or play or movie that purports to show a white person awakening to the black plight, developing some enlightenment, TRIVIALIZES said black oppression. Therefore, it must be stamped out of existence, especially if it uses the N word"

"Never mind that Twain specifically uses the N word to show *how demeaning* the N word is. Never mind that slyly couching the enlightenment of an uneducated careless white youth to the appalling oppression of his black friend in a "popular entertainment" was rather subversive and "progressive" of Twain at the time he wrote it. Its "bad" because it tells a story of a white fool learning to grow the eff up and learn some sensitivity, but since "we all know now" that white people are incapable of such development, Twain's books and Big River should be burned, banned and vilified. How dare they continue to revive this horribly racist, white-pandering musical. How DARE they."

THAT is what disgusts me about Laura Collins-Hughes' review: its nauseating display of clueless white condescension, hubris and "privilege" in pandering to the insulting assumption non-whites are incapable of parsing the merits of a fictional work within its historic context. Twisted sisters like Laura are the true long-term threat to the survival of intellectual integrity in this country: Trumps come and go quickly, but self-congratulating, virtue-signaling pseudo-progressives hang on tenaciously. Martin Luther King and Gandhi must be having an afterlife eyeroll contest in response to these obtuse cultural arbiters.

The Raving Queen said...

It is true Trump(s) will come and go. However, with the prospect of him wanting to eliminate the NEA and the NEH, commentators like Laura are playing right into his hands. That said, the rest is true--her condescension, which characterizes her generation, and its inability to see anything beyond or before the historical context in which they are3 now living! I hope she is not given such an assignment again.