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Subject: Re: Cultural controversy swirls around Seattle Opera’s ‘Madame Butter fly’
From: Rich Lowenthal <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Rich Lowenthal <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 3 Aug 2017 14:07:53 -0400
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Oh poppycock. Art does not reside in some rarefied intellectual world, free of politics, free of prejudice, free of history. "Art is generous, inclusive" is the inane Hallmark take of someone who seems paid not to think, or who has little knowledge of how art has been used through history. Works such as "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and the "Jew of Malta" are rarely performed today because, whatever their merits, each is in its own way deeply offensive in today's world, and to demean those who find offense as "overly sensitive" is an insult both to them and to art, to treat the works as having no more import than a children's holiday pageant. Many works of art have been deliberately offensive, from the anti-Nazi paintings of Georg Grosz to the photographs of Andres Serrano, or the plays of Brecht and Kushner. Is Mahagonny "generous, inclusive"? If so, it's not being done right.

I personally think that Butterfly should be performed but must acknowledge that some will find it offensive, and that they will say that whatever musical merits the opera has will not necessarily balance out the offense. I can acknowledge that there may have been artistic merit in the Oberammergau Passion plays of the early twentieth century but will not agree that they should be performed today. ("generous, inclusive...")

The National Review will always tell members of minorities not to take offense, to be "less sensitive." But then look at how conservatives fulminated over Miranda's portrayal of their beloved Hamilton in his musical. Identity politics is always bad, until someone messes with your identity. 



-----Original Message-----
From: Discussion of opera and related issues [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Max D. Winter
Sent: Thursday, August 3, 2017 1:27 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Cultural controversy swirls around Seattle Opera’s ‘Madame Butterfly’

This is insane.  Exactly the sort of PC idiocy discussed in the Nordlinger article I posted the other day.  For those who didn't read it, here it is:

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/442580/killing-aida-fatal-clash-art-identity-politics 

Nordlinger writes:

"Art is in conflict with identity politics. You can have one or the other. You cannot have both. 
Art is universal; identity politics is particular. Art is generous, inclusive — come one, come all; identity politics is exclusive, often meanly so."

More specifically to the point:

"More recently, there have been cries in America against “cultural appropriation.” What does that mean? For an answer, I turn, as usual, to Wikipedia: “the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of another culture.” Formerly, that was thought of as good: 
open-minded, world-embracing, liberal."

No more, apparently.

Question:  Do I, as an American, get to have my own hissy fit over Puccini's "cultural appropriation" of the American West in "Fanciulla del West?"  (Actually, common sense and a reluctance to embarrass myself would keep me from having such a hissy fit, but I pose the question anyway.)  

When I hear someone whining about "cultural appropriation," particularly in connection with art, I want to tell the whiner to shove it up their grievance-ridden backside and stop demanding that everyone else cater to their delicate sensibilities.  These are people with too much time on their hands and not enough of importance on their minds.  And the self- abasing, guilt-ridden virtue signaling from opera managements like Seattle's is no less irritating.

MDW

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