Thursday, August 20, 2015

Pippin, A Post Sexual Revolution Musical

What do you do with the Broadway musical after the sexual revolution of the Sixties, now that it is assumed that kids get it on from a very early age -- as in: they are going to do it anyway -- and you can't have heroines as ingenues?

It's a problem, and maybe that's why the Broadway musical has gone into something of a decline since The Sound of Music that debuted on Broadway in 1959 and ran as a movie in 1965 when I was in college.

(And I remember that I studiously did not go to the movie. I was far too sophisticated for boy-meets-girl musicals back then.)

But yesterday we went to a performance of the revived Pippin road show here in Seattle. In case you didn't know the show puts notional scenes in the life of Pippin, the son of Charlemagne, King of the Franks, in the context of a circus. It breaks the "fourth wall" in the manner of Brecht, and its songs are unmemorable Seventies pop.

Since we can't have boy-meets-girl anymore, what do we do? Well, Pippin is a twenty-something lad who has just graduated from university in Padua (no wiving and thriving there for him). He doesn't know what he wants to do, but he wants it to do something "extraordinary."

In other words, to use my taxonomy, the musical Pippin character is a person of the creative self. He does not just propose to exist as a person of the subordinate self, as a client to some great patron. He does not want to live as a bourgeois responsible individual. He wants to "make a difference." He is, in other words, thoroughly modern.

But since he is the title role of a post-sexual-revolution musical he can't just meet a girl and fall in love. Oh no. Because nowadays people don't do that (do they?). No, they have relationships and then after "finding themselves" they, well who knows what they might do. They might get married. Or they might realize they are gay. Or, what with Rachel Dolezal and all, they might fake being black! They might even become a world-renowned creative artist (in your dreams).

In the end, of course, most of today's twentysomething people of the creative self, living in lofts and wearing artistical black, end up living conventional lives, and that is what Pippin does.

But first there must be sex, because you always have sex, I mean love, in musicals. In this case the Leading Player runs Pippin through a series of sexual experimentations, including one in a circus animal cage with some (human) circus animals.

I kept wondering, as I sat through these crudities, sitting next to a young woman who will be a sophomore in college this year, where is the "safe space?" Suppose this young woman got triggered by the burlesque tableaux on stage? Surely, the special snowflakes now attending college are not just triggered by, e.g., a conservative feminist showing up on campus and daring to speak non-liberal thoughts and ideas? Surely the players on stage should get affirmative permission from the audience before they potentially "trigger" then with scenes that some audience members might have experienced in some regretted sexual episode.

Well, no. No "safe spaces." Which reminds us, as if we need reminding, that the whole triggering and microaggression thing is nothing but left-liberal political bullying designed to name and shame anyone that doesn't think the right thoughts and recite the right catchphrases.

Anyway, eventually Pippin does meet his blonde ingenue, only she is a young widow with a son. And because he has mental health issues on account of he can't find anything "extraordinary" to do, she has to nurse him back to mental health.

I am not kidding.

After a year of this nursing Pippin does the fatherly thing by the young blonde widow's son when the son's duck "Otto" dies. Then they kiss. Then they immediately jump in the sack right there on stage.

I don't know about you, but I don't find this post-sexual revolution world all that compelling. And I don't think it makes for a very compelling musical.

Really, of course, the whole point of the old Broadway musical was to tell the story of the immigrant girl from the 1900 immigrant wave and the great question of her coming of age: whether she dares to "marry out" of her ethnic group.

You could say that the old Broadway certainly ended on a high note in The Sound of Music when a nobody governess from the local convent beats out the rich bitch for the love of the fabulously rich Georg von Trapp by winning the love of his children using old discarded curtains for play clothes and teaching them silly songs.

I think that the whole post sexual revolution thing will eventually collapse. Because it is a really bad deal for women. In my view the current "rape culture" hysteria shows that women are finally starting to push back on the sexual revolution. But since the "rape culture" pushback is led by clueless liberal post-bourgeois feminists that never thought an original thought in their lives it has completely lost the plot.

The current "rape culture" hysteria is saying that young women can't be trusted to make sensible decisions about sex. They must be supervised by wise and caring college administrators. But that is no different from the old days, when young women were sexually supervised by their fathers.

Er, no. Sorry I got that wrong. in the old days young women were really supervised by their mothers and other mature women. But that would ruin the feminist thing about the "patriarchy." And that would never do.

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