A long time ago there appeared in the once-revered New Yorker a cartoon.
The scene was a concert venue, where a string quartet was about to perform.
As the audience grew quiet, the cellist coughed, laid his bow to one side, and said:
“Before we begin, I would like to say a few words about the war in Viet Nam.”
Back then it was funny. Today it is a farce.
As a long-time music critic for Saturday Review and High Fidelity magazines, I had a lasting and fairly informed impression that the rudest audiences in the country were in Boston.
Enter New York.
When Donald Trump’s VP Mike Pence decided to have a relaxing evening away from work with his wife last Friday, they went to see Hamilton, a popular musical.
No sooner did they arrive, than the tony crowd erupted in catcalls and boos.
Gee, these poor rich kids had never seen anybody famous before!
The braying continued interrupting the performance, which descended into pure swill and culminated with an asinine political pout by some actor from the stage. He and his “diverse” fellow performers were “alarmed and anxious” by Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence, he plaintively whined, apparently on the edge of tears (why they’d all gone out and gotten concealed carry permits the day after the election!)
This canned insult was, as they say, “staged.”
What lessons can we derive from this?
First, the principle: the Left politicizes everything. Everything. From preschool to the New York stage, the Left politicizes everything. Even at musicals, the Red Guard is watching.
Second, the tactic: the mode of politicization adopted by the Left is that of that fat blowhard from North Korea. You know, the one where, if you fall asleep during one of his dazzling and endless orations, you get blown up as an artillery target practice target for your sins.
Third, the moral: yes, they are sins. The Left denies the spirit – Remember, Karl Marx said you can even ask about it. That’s the forbidden question, after all. So all “sins” are dumped into the Left’s callous cauldron of politics.
Fourth, the players: the cast members are desperate for work. There are thousands of talented wannabe stars lined up in the wings ready to take their place. They have to perform–not their assigned lines, of course, but their assigned role as plastic dummies casting frightened shadows on the walls of Plato’s cave. One false move and the Thought Police will send you to the Ministry of Love.
Andres Segovia, who virtually created the classical guitar and much of its repertoire, performed as a soloist throughout the world. If someone in the audience dared clear to his throat as silence was descending upon the concert hall, el maestro would pause, slowly look up, and cast a scornful look in that poor soul’s direction.
Silence would return.
But not to New York. No, not one member of the union cast of Hamilton dared to shoot a silent glare at the boorish glitterati, who were gloating in their opportunity to degrade the evening’s experience. Insist on simple dignity? Why that would offend the audience full of shallow millionaires who insisted on perverting the performance with their pompous preening.
No, that cast member would be exiled and become an instant has-been. His career over, he would never again be called to audition for a role at Central Casting.
Diversity does, after all, have its limits.
Fifth, the mandatory self-abasement of the repentant bourgeois: to top off the fraudulent charade, a designated cast member read a statement to the audience, directed toward Pence. Why the cast was “alarmed and anxious” by the election! (Pence should have sent them all milk, and cookies, but I digress).
Of course, the petulant pout was a crock of hypocrisy – Brandon Dixon, the designated flak, insisted that they were a “diverse cast,” but the casting call that got him hired openly required that “No Whites Need Apply” – blatantly illegal discrimination that the play’s director still defends. Moreover, Dixon’s lecture, however tawdry, was tawdry – but only because Citizens United, the decision so hated by the Left, qualifies Dixon’s lecture as “Corporate Speech” of the play’s owner, “Hamilton Broadway, Inc.” Alas, Dixon forgot to include thanks to all those conservative justices on the Supreme Court who made his corporate comments possible.
And corporate it was: consider the cast members: they’re all desperate for work. There are thousands of talented wannabe stars who are just as good lined up in the wings ready to take their place. They have to perform–not their assigned lines, of course, but their assigned role as the corporation’s plastic dummies casting frightened shadows on the walls of Plato’s cave. One false move and the Thought Police will send you to the Ministry of Love. So like all aspiring stars of the stage, Dixon read the lines handed to him by his play’s owners.
Sixth, the lie: Of course, the pretense of the peroration was that it was Trump who alarmed these star bound snowflakes.
Not so. They were not afraid of Trump. After all, what could he do to harm them? Nothing.
But wait – who could harm them? Who were they really afraid of?
The dirty little secret: the cast members were scared to death that the kingpins in the entertainment industry would punish them forever if they did not debase their supposedly artistic performance into just one more hackneyed political stunt. They are afraid for their careers. They were afraid, all right, and they should be: if they do not mouth the Party’s required perorations, their career will be finished.
Consider: why couldn’t one cast member stand up and say, “Look, I’m just an artist, let’s keep politics out of it.”
Those words you will never hear in the entertainment world – no more than you will ever hear a sweet young thing arriving in Hollywood just off the bus from Kansas tell the casting director at her first audition, “Look, I’m a virgin, just let me try out for the part on my own merits.”
Hamilton’s cast is terrified and their fears are real. Jobs are tight in the entertainment world. The competition in Show Biz is every bit as tough as the NFL or the NBA. For every one on the field or on the court, there are literally millions of wannabes who didn’t make the big leagues.
One of my music partners with a successful worldwide operation tells me that for every classical pianist on a major stage, there are literally a thousand worldwide who are just as good. That’s why you’ll see gimmicks galore – a branded persona, a slinky dress, PR flaks galore, a painfully stage-managed shtick that Liberace would envy.
Back to New York:
There’s a popular story among music critics. Sir Thomas Beecham was once conducting an opera at Convent Garden. The cast included a real horse.
Even the finest horses cannot be house trained, of course, so this non-union bit player did his part by relieving himself on stage.
Sir Thomas, baton at the ready, turned to the audience and said, “Egad! A critic!”
This time around, the cast of Hamilton didn’t even need the horse.
Nor did the New York boors. They are two-dimensional apparatchiks programmed to cheer the Deal Leader or, when challenged by reality, to indulge in their two-hour version of the Two Minutes Hate.
To quote Bo Diddley, who do they love?
Consider: had Madonna the self-proclaimed pro-Hillary fellatio queen, walked in that night, they would have stood up and cheered.
No doubt a lot of them would have gotten in line.