Friday, February 16, 2018

"Snob Appeal"

Aside from the most important issue – the “outed” perpetrators of sexual misconduct finally getting what they deserve; I literally salivate when justice prevails; it is not a pretty sight – I am happy to experience the refreshing range of commentarial reaction, speaking to modulated responses and the punishment fitting the crime, as well as the hotly clashing evaluations.

One (female) commentator, although totally on board with the movement, decried a sign she saw at a recent downtown rally that read,

“Women are the Future!”

I would hope that was just a matter of “Signs don’t do ‘Nuance.’” Otherwise, I have no place in the “Future.”  I have tried gaining reentry into the past but they will not let me back in.  And the present’s, like, “Oops, it’s gone.”  Where exactly am I supposed to go? 

(By the way, my daughter Anna’s “Reality television is ruining my government.” demonstrates protest signs’ more imaginative capabilities.  It can be done.)

Anyway, the spectrum of generated perspectives – after the universally acknowledged “You can’t do that!” – is both provocative and welcome.

And then there’s this guy.

Help me out here.  Am I missing the point?  Or is there a serious glitch in the communication?

Charles McNulty, the lead L.A. Times theater critic recently weighed in on the thorny issue of… you know, you appreciate their work but you deplore their personal behavior.

(See:  Curb Your Enthusiasm in which a stranger mercilessly berates Larry for whistling Wagner.  (Known as one of Hitler’s favorite composers.)

It’s an interesting question.  But it seems to me Charles McNulty misses the boat, captaining a craft I should happily see sink.

Unless it is me missing the boat, McNulty seems to suggest that the “Great Ones”, although not deserving an outright “pass”, should receive a comparatively lighter punitive consequence.

“Give geniuses a break” he appears to be arguing.  At least, that’s what I got out of it.

Studying their writings, McNulty discovers that (1984’s) George Orwell and (iconic film critic) Pauline Kael made unequivocal homophobic pronouncements. 

But… they were George Orwell and Pauline Kael. 

Meaning, quoting McNulty:

“These homophobic nuggets didn’t change my thinking about these great writers, who have too much intelligence and flair to be reduced to their worst statements.”

On the other hand,

“James Toback’s films aren’t in my Netflix queue.  I never mistook Kevin Spacey for one of the greats.”

So what is he saying?  Hang Toback and Spacey for being miscreants with the misfortune of having limited ability but keep Orwell and Kael in the rotation?

What exactly is the connection?

I’m just asking

Some illuminating examples on the non-Toback, non-Spacey side of the ledger:

“Ben Jonson, a playwright second only to Shakespeare {who} killed an actor is duel… is not simply the slayer of a fellow theatrical.  He is also the self-taught playwright of prodigious classical learning, Shakespeare’s champion and a heck of a funny farceur.”

“Sure, he killed a guy.  But he’s funny! (“And it was only an actor!”)

Jumping to the historical arena – where it involves sculpture – concerning Confederate Civil War statues, which he believes should be consigned to museums, McNulty goes on to conclude,

“… I might feel differently if they were wrought by someone on the level of Michelangelo or Giacometti.”

“Leonardo Da Vinci does ‘Stonewall’ Jackson.”

To be sure, McNulty does offer a clarifying disclaimer:

“… let me state categorically that I have no interest in furthering the careers of rapists, predators, racists and homophobes.”

Then immediately subverts that assertion with,

“But if evidence turns up that Shakespeare was a sadistic creep, I trust that we will still appreciate “Hamlet”, “King Lear” and “The Tempest.”

Before finally “lowering the bar” with,

“And the same should hold for the work of our less illustrious contemporary artists whose virtue may fall egregiously short of the gifts they’ve bestowed.”

And still Kevin Spacey misses the cut?

The guy won two Oscars!

My own personal view, for what it’s worth:

Listening to Wagner on the radio recently, I casually remarked,

“That Jew hater is good.

It is somewhere around there.

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