With particularly myopic arrogance, Jesse Green, theater critic of the New York Times, lauds the new production of My Fair Lady as the best one ever because it serves as “an ur-text of the #MeToo movement (NYT 4/20/18) Never mind the genius of George Bernard Shaw or the combined brilliance of Lerner and Lowe - it took director Bartlett Sher to show us “how history -even if it took 100 years - would eventually start to outgrow its brutes, and how it still might do so compassionately by teaching them a lesson.” We all know the famous quote (falsely attributed to Samuel Goldwyn) “If you want to send a message, call Western Union,” but apparently for Jesse Green, a lesson is even more valuable than a message and we can all go to school on the collective wisdom of such luminaries as Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan.
Mr. Green is also excited by the inclusion of male can-can dancers in drag to enlighten us as to the cleverness of “Get Me To the Church on Time.” One can only hope to read his ecstatic response when Eliza eventually reaches maximum progressive significance as played by a transsexual actor, preferably Black. And why the need to save those outmoded period costumes and set designs? Why not update the staid version of Eliza as a vehicle for Miley Cyrus while she’s still young enough to lash her tongue at Henry Higgins and morph into someone as grand as Beyonce at the Coachella Ball
The contemporary need to keep updating classics to make them relevant usually diminishes them. The main purpose it does serve is to further narrow the imaginations of people incapable of recognizing that newer does not always mean better and that historical mores do not have to duplicate our own in order to hold our attention or respect. Fortunately, the trio of Shaw, Lerner and Lowe are not here to see the debasing comparison of their creativity to the collective mash-up of hashtagMeToo.
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