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Fox/Drudge Almost Assassinate NEWEST ENEMY: Er, Shakespeare In The Park

Cowards die many times before their deaths. Weak!

Oh, sure, maybe there’s just a little bit of a crisis in governance just now, what with the possibility the president obstructed justice in the Russia investigation (and might be planning to fire the special counsel), the Republican Senate plotting — in secret — to strip tens of millions of people of health insurance, and while we’re at it, a couple of land wars in Asia that we barely talk about except when something really cool goes BOOM. Obviously, now is an ideal time for the political right to get its feathers seriously ruffled over a New York production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in modern dress, in which the title character looks more than a little like Donald Trump and — spoiler warning! — is bloodily stabbed to death. Fox & Friends went into low dudgeon over the play Sunday, and shortly afterward, Delta Airlines pulled its funding for NYC’s Public Theater, which has been doing “Shakespeare in the Park” for decades. Bank of America very bravely announced it was only ending its funding of the production of Julius Caesar, but would continue funding the Public Theater.

Here’s a fun detail: the Fox News story on the play originally described it only as a “New York City play,” without mentioning that the play in question was by some guy named “Shakespeare,” who presumably even Fox viewers have heard of. The article was updated after Delta pulled its funding. The Fox & Friends video also included a chyron reading “TAX-FUNDED PLAY ‘ASSASSINATES’ PRESIDENT,” which prompted enough complaints to the National Endowment for the Arts that the NEA website now includes a statement on its homepage explaining that no NEA funds are going to the Public Theater’s production of Julius Caesar. The Public Theater is funded by the City of New York, which is probably all the more reason for the Trump administration to eliminate Homeland Security funding for the city.

So, obviously, this is a play advocating the assassination of Donald Trump, even though that name is never spoken, because if Julius Caesar looks like Trump and is assassinated, then obviously the Public Theater loves the idea of killing Trump. Never mind that the play is mostly about what happens after Caesar is assassinated — it’s not called a tragedy for nothing, you know, and once the conspirators have killed the tyrant, the rest of the play is about the consequences, the conspirators’ doubts and recriminations and infighting, the foolishness of public opinion, and so on. Oh, yeah, and the coming collapse of democracy. It’s Shakespeare, which means it ISN’T EASY. If the sole meaning of Julius Caesar were “hooray for assassinating Caesar!” nobody would still be studying it in graduate school, said Wonkette’s elitist PhD in Rhetoric (University of Arizona, 2000).

Shakespeare is pretty adaptable, without any modern-day trappings. The New York Times — which, hooray for them, continues to fund the Public Theater and Shakespeare in the Park — points out that the Public’s artistic director, Oskar Eustis, is hardly the only one to find Julius Caesar suddenly very relevant after November 8, 2016:

All over the country, from Oklahoma to Oregon, theaters have been staging “Julius Caesar” this year as a way to chew over politics, power, democracy and authoritarianism at a moment when a populist leader with a fondness for executive power has moved into the White House.

Of course, this production is in New York City, at the outdoor Delacorte Theater in Central Park (where “wilding” black teens may rape you if you ever go there) and much more prominently underlines the Trumpian qualities of the title character. But every word of it is still Shakespeare — the same text that also inspired a 2012 modern dress production in which Caesar was played by a handsome black guy and opposed by a Cassius and a Casca who looked remarkably like Eric Cantor and Mitch McConnell. It’s a play about politics, the temptations of power, and the consequences of taking bloody action. Of course it’s going to be performed with hints and nudges to relate Shakespeare’s text to any number of contemporary political figures. But that takes several sentences to explain, and is far more elitist than just screaming “NYC PLAY ADVOCATES KILLING TRUMP!!” In other words, it’s an elitist excuse from a murderous liberal making excuses.

The Public Theater’s webpage for the free production in Central Park now carries this announcement, which takes up most of the space:

At the opening of the play this week, Eustis also offered this defense of the play and of the value of free speeching, which he encouraged the audience to record and share:

Dialogue? Democracy? Complexity? Those are for eggheads. Let’s go with demagoguery instead — it’s not like the text of Julius Caesar has any warnings about that.

[NYT / Variety / NYT / Fox News / Image via Public Theater]

Source: Politics – Wonkette

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