Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Political Commentary as Theater Critique

Imagine that you are watching the French Revolution through the lens of the current American journalism, especially in this primary election season:

The scene: Marie Antoinette being taken to the guillotine. Commentary:
"Cindy, do you think that the color of her dress really goes with blood?"
"Well, June, she might have done better in one of those milkmaid outfits she introduced. Let's ask Mme Poissoniere in the audience, knitting away in a color out of fashion, to see what she thinks."

Or another scene: Marat lying dead in his bathtub, after being stabbed dead by Charlotte Corday:

"Max, here we are, at Marat's bathtub. Let's ask M. Marat how he feels now that he has a knife stuck in his heart. M. Marat? How does it feels to be dead?"

"Fred, he appears not to comment. Now our camera has turned to Mlle Corday, fresh from the provinces, and that sure shows in her outfit. I wonder if she is viewed as a missing white woman back in the countryside."

Or how about this scene, from the end times of the Revolution: Robespierre is taken to the same guillotines he urged for so many others.

Commentary: "Now that was a beheading! Sliced his throat like a cucumber. But Joe, don't you think that Robespierre should have wiped his nose before climbing up those stairs?"