I have come to the realization that those apathetic, half-awake Americans who shrug off the creeping fanaticism of the antiracism, “diversity, equity and inclusion” mob must not follow developments in the show business and entertainment world, for there the most throbbingly stupid and hypocritical outbreaks of The Great Stupid inevitably occur.
Last month, the ridiculous non-traditional casting version of “1776” opened. Ethics Alarms has discussed it a couple of times: the conceit of casting the Founding Fathers as female, non-binary, trans colonials of color is a naked “Hamilton” rip-off that mocks the show and our history for political grandstanding. As anyone could have predicted, it stinks, though the naturally sympathetic and woke theatrical critic community didn’t have the guts or integrity to say so outright. No, most of them just issued mealy-mouthed deflections like the Times critic, who wrote in part after delivering the mandatory “what a good idea!” virtue-signaling about what was always, absent a miracle, a wretched idea…
….the performances are so vastly histrionic and unchecked by the social situation (this is Congress, after all) that they seem inside-out….It does not help that the new arrangements and orchestrations, aiming to refresh the songs’ profiles in the way the casting is meant to refresh the story, merely make them muddy — and make many of the lyrics unintelligible….
When performers mime the emotions we should be having, the storytelling contract has been broken….What a wasted opportunity!…Instead we get subtracted value. I don’t mean for the cast, who deserve the opportunity, or even for the theater as an industry and an ecosystem….But underlining one’s progressiveness a thousand times, as this “1776” does, will not actually convey it better; rather it turns characters into cutouts and distracts from the ideas it means to promote…. theater makers should have enough faith in the principles of equity and diversity to let them speak for themselves. Are they not, as someone once put it, self-evident?
But of course equity and diversity are not self-evident, and the complete confusion over casting ethics demonstrates this fact beautifully. Let’s see: BIPOC performers can be cast as anyone, regardless of color, ethnicity, gender or race, but white performers can only play white characters. Turning a white fictional character black is to be desired whenever possible (Tangent: My CVS is filled with black Santa dolls and images. Where are the Hispanic and Asian Santas?) but making a fictional character of color (a FCOC) white is “white-washing,” and racist. “The Simpsons” won’t allow white vocal actors to do the voices of a black doctor or an Indian 7-11 owner, but Will Smith can voice a Middle Eastern genie without controversy. Ariel the Little Mermaid will be sung by a black actress; true, they turned Arial black first, but don’t think the same actress wouldn’t have voiced her if they hadn’t: Diversity! Inclusion! Meanwhile, Tom Hanks said it was wrong for him to be cast as a gay man, though gay men portray about 50% of all the heterosexuals you see on screen and stage.
Clear? Of course not! These aren’t rules or principles: this is racially motivated Calvinball, compensatory racism and related discrimination under the cloak of imaginary virtue.
And yet we hadn’t reached peak stupid yet. Is this latest episode it? Probably not, but behold:Keith Wann, 53, a white sign-language interpreter, was fired from his job as a signer for deaf audience members in the production of “The Lion King” on Broadway. The non-profit Theatre Development Fund that staffs Broadway shows with American Sign Language interpreters ruled that it was “no longer appropriate to have white interpreters represent black characters for ASL Broadway shows.” Wann and fellow signer Christina Mosleh were ejected from the production, which celebrates its 25th anniversary today, so they could be replaced by black sign-language specialists. (No, they aren’t experts in black sign language; they just have black skin.)
The director of the Fund’s accessibility programs, Lisa Carling, wrote that because of “the current social climate” —you know, in which racism directed at the right race is OK—she was “asking”—as in “telling”—the two white signers to leave the show. “I don’t see any other way out of this,” she wrote. “It seems like the best solution.”
Sure! Racial discrimination against whites always solves problems.
Carling had acted at the urging of American Sign Language director for “The Lion King” Shelly Guy, whose reasoning was—pay attention now!— “The majority of the characters in the Lion King are black actors and the content takes place in Africa. Keith Wann, though an amazing ASL performer, is not a black person and therefore should not be representing Lion King.”
Oh, well that seems f…wait. What? The Lion King isn’t black. The Lion King isn’t white. The Lion King is a cat. There aren’t any human characters in the entire show!
Surely, surely, there has to be a point at which these abusive and discriminatory double standards are finally recognized by the admittedly dwindling number of Americans who haven’t had their brains washed, dried and starched by the heralds of the anti-democratic—but woke!—Cultural Revolution. So far, however, sufficient numbers of citizens votes for exactly the people who approve of the new order to keep them in power.
I have to accept the very real possibility that nothing is so stupid that it will wake these slugs up.