Trump Era Ignorance Triumphs Over Shakespeare
What’s to be said about the Public Theater’s production of “Julius Caesar,” which, having dressed the titular dictator in President Donald Trump’s weeds, has fulfilled its most obvious destiny by earning the relentless enmity of Trump’s fan base?
Here’s my offer: What a time to be alive but also mostly dead inside! What a thrill it is to have another dose of that fulminate-of-mercury outrage delivered to our screens. And what a terrific way to highlight two key features of our age ― the extreme uselessness of ever knowing anything and our tendency to expend too much of our spirit in a waste of shame.
Like all the great conservative mavens of “cultural literacy” recommended that we Gen-Xers do in college, I’ve spent many thousands of hours with William Shakespeare and the canon of Western Literature. And that’s fine. The canon is mostly pretty good, except for Tess of the D’Urbervilles.
In particular, I’ve spent more time with “Julius Caesar” than any reasonable person should be required to. But this weekend’s burst of psychopathic indignation over one production of the play was a good reminder of what a futile pursuit that was. America, circa now, is more apt to valorize people who don’t know a single thing about what they’re talking about than it is to reward those who do. Being armed too strong in honesty, I ended up on the losing end of this weekend’s joust over “Julius Caesar.”
So, thanks for nothing, E.D. Hirsch! I’ve really wasted my time. But since it’s my time to waste, let’s make the most of it.
OK. The thing about Shakespeare’s play “Julius Caesar” is that it’s not actually about Caesar. The main character is a politician named Brutus who, greatly concerned about Caesar’s violations of democratic norms and thoroughly convinced […]