Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Now, Live From the Thunderdome, Julius Caesar by Billy Shakes

Just a little background--prior to the play written by William Shakespeare, an Elizabethan playwright and possibly political pundit (no, really, how else explain all the "Henry" plays?), in about 1599, which is over 400 years ago, there was an actual guy called Gaius Julius Caesar, who was a general in the Roman Republic who became a dictator and was assassinated. The play derives from the historical events. This was about 2,000 years ago. He really was assassinated. Being assassinated is not a modern thing. Kings and Emperors and all kinds of leaders have been going out that way for millennia. Go read Frazer's The Golden Bough. Literary and historical long story short: folks come at a king. But they best not miss. Or it does not go well with them.

There has been a recent foofaraw regarding the decision of the New York Public Theater to stage the 400+ year old play in modern garb--even though staging Shakespeare's plays this way to make them seem timely is a long-observed trick.  The same was done with Obama. The same was done with other US presidents. It is, for the most part, just a statement updated for the times. The message of the play remains the same--don't fuck with violently disturbing the civil order, or worse will follow in it's wake. Cassius and Brutus aren't heroes in Julius Caesar, they are displayed as petty and divisive insecure men who carry out this act because the fault was not in the stars but in themselves

So when a couple alt-right goobers try to disrupt the play in the name, ironically, of free speech? Or something? I cringe at their pitiable education. I'm not sure you can rep for Western Civilization when you actually display no depth of understanding of it. And I am not sure how you play at being for freedom of speech when you are scared of this ancient and accepted speech that has been happening without your asses for years. Welcome to the conversation: now shut up and learn.

Obviously, we've established that updating Shakespeare is just a thing. (I personally fell asleep during a viewing of Richard III set in the 1930's with the outstanding Ian McKellan, Annette Bening, and a host of my actual favorite actors.). Dire cinematic representations of current or more-recent leaders are nothing new, though. When Shakespeare was doing his thing, his historical British monarchs were commentary on the current ones. Today, we can argue whether Olympus Has Fallen was meant as a commentary on Obama. There was even a fake docudrama based on George W. Bush called Death of a President. It was not pro-assassination--in that narrative, things became more authoritarian as Cheney came into power.

A play is the thing to capture the conscience of a king. How the in-group treats free speech, art, derision, the free press, says a lot about how secure the "King" must feel. I do not think this would-be King is very secure, based on how his followers cavort. They are jesters all, that say him mortal. The play Julius Caesar wreathing Trump in an actual warrior's laurels does him an honor he never earned. To have him seen as executed for growing too powerful, and not because his Tweeting became a danger to himself and others, is a favor.

One truly great actor, Marlin Brando, played the Godfather and Marcus Anthony.  Trump is a reality tv guy--no Brando. But he seems at times to reflect Godfather values, and Caesar tragedy. He is Fredo and Brutus. Gifted with momentary power, and likely to fuck it up. He seems a cautionary fable in the making.

1 comment:

Thomas Ten Bears said...

In honor of today's cybersphere all a'twitter with headlines decaring the lefties the "new" conspiracy theorists: there is a tradition amongst some circles that hold our boy Bill to have been a pen name of suspected (and imprisoned) secret society member Frank Bacon.