Over at his blog, our pal Sonicfrog does a great job taking apart a New York Times review of the Broadway show, “American Idiot,” and speculates that the reviewer may have so loved the piece because the eponymous idiot is the immediate past president of the United States:
The good ol’ days. Back when it was OK to hate the President. Of course, bashing Bush was not exactly edgy or breaking new ground by the time “American Idiot” came out – Dixie Chicks, Keith Olberman, and Rosie “fire has never melted steel” O’Donnell had already blazed that trail. What makes the Green Day album notable was not the music – I doubt many could name a single song from the album, or hum one of the tunes – but the fact that the anti-Bush sentiment was marketed so prominently as a feature of the album. I know the “American Idiot” album won a Grammy, but does anyone really think it would have been nearly as successful if it wasn’t an exercise in Bush bashing?
But I find it hard to believe that a musical based on such shallow material could lift itself to the heights that this critic portends. I find it sad that the material that this is based on is the best they could do when deciding to produce a rock opera of this nature.
Now, I don’t know as much about the distinctions in musical genres as does our “amphibian” friend, so encourage you to read the post where he questions reviewer Charles Isherwood’s understanding of contemporary music (and other things).
As I read this piece, something kept grating on me — how politicized our theatrical culture has become. It’s one thing to be a liberal and write, produce and direct plays, but quite another when you insist on producing works with political themes. It seems all too many of our literary and theatrical creators are less interested in the transcendant power of art, to remind us what unites us, the common themes of humanity than in exorcizing their own pet political peeves through public performance.
But, then again, animosity to conservatives and Republicans in general and George W. Bush is specific is what does seem to unite our cultural élites.