That song, of course—I hope “of course”—is from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Carousel.” We should recognize that unless we can turn back the cultural clock from half-past sanity, this show, and pretty much all of the R & H musicals, are doomed to political incorrectness hell. That’s far too high a price to pay for woke grandstanding, but The Great Stupid is powerful in the arts, and the kinds of destructive uprising in theater departments that we discussed over the long weekend here and here (in Rick Jones’ excellent guest post) are going to be difficult to put down, especially if the leaders in the artistic community continue to reveal the backbones of annelid worms. “The King and I” is impossible to produce if the the entire cast has to be Asian, and “yellowface” is now considered racist. “Carousel” is a period piece set in an all-white New England fishing town, making the sudden injections of African Americans into the cast for “diversity’s” sake jarring; besides, the the hero is a domestic abuser. “South Pacific” has too many woke violations to count. Can black and Asian characters be shoehorned into 1930’s Austria as the Nazis take over? As a director, I wouldn’t do it, and that show is already imperiled by the fact that the stage version is so inferior to the film. Maybe “Oklahoma!” can be finessed. I have my doubts.
1. Ethics documentary tip...If you have not seen the documentary “Five Came Back,” I recommend that you do. It’s on Netflix, and tells the under-reported story of how five of Hollywood’s most celebrated directors risked their lives, health and careers to volunteer to make films supporting and documenting the war effort during World War Two. All of the five—John Ford, George Stevens, Frank Capra, John Huston and William Wyler—were harmed physically, mentally or emotionally by the experience. They also produced some remarkable film, including some that were deemed too intense by the military and suppressed for decades. I did not realize, for example, that Stevens directed the horrific Dachau death camp footage that was finally shown to the public in “Judgement at Nuremberg, nearly 20 years after the war.
2. Speaking of Netflix…I gave in and started watching “The Kominski Method,” Michael Douglas’s streaming sitcom about an aging acting coach coming to grips with old age and mortality. It’s excellent. A running gag is younger people not getting his popular culture references. I’m not sure who the show is mocking here: the twenty/thirty-somethings who don’t know the history of their own profession, or the out-of-touch geezers who assume their references to the past are apt. You know my position by now: cultural literacy requires keeping up with both the present and the past, and society is strengthened the more the generations can maintain common touchpoints. Three references that the show used to illustrate generational gaps in common experience were Walter Brennan, Jimmy Durante, and Andy Devine. Of those three, I’d say Andy Devine is in the triva category: I wouldn’t refer to him in a seminar and expect anyone under 50 to know who he is. Walter Brennan was an important actor who appeared in many classics (he also hold the record for Supporting Actor Oscars). Someone who is literate about film should know who he is, but I can’t see any crippling disadvantage from not recognizing his name. I’m biased, but I’d put Jimmy Durante in the category of someone who had sufficient cultural influence and presence over a sufficiently long period that his name and image should resonate even with rising generations.
Here is one of my favorite , if uncharacteristic, late career performances by “The Schnozz”:
3. Unethical Headline Of The Day. The New York Times print edition of its Science Section has this: “Limiting Access To Abortions Won’t End Them.” What’s that supposed to mean? Because some women won’t stop killing unborn babies at will and without limits, we shouldn’t try to address the problem? Prohibiting robbery and murder doesn’t stop those acts either: point? Laws, regulations and rules shouldn’t exist if they are not 100% effective?
Yesterday’s “winner”, which I no longer can find: “Republicans Believe Unemployment Should Hurt.” The monsters!
4. Ugh. Out of time and alligators nipping at my heels. This has been happening too much lately. I have a lot more items. Later…