Right now, it’s trendy to crank out anti-gun art. While not all artistic types are anti-gunners–I happen to know quite a few who are very pro-gun, as a matter of fact–most tend to be. They’re often safe inside a bubble where they’re told over and over again that an anti-gun message is a winning strategy.
Unfortunately, the “brains” behind an anti-gun version of the Broadway classic “Oklahoma” just found out the hard way that such thinking isn’t necessarily supported by reality.
The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye, and so is my blood pressure, thanks to the revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!”
In director Daniel Fish’s pretentious production — which opened Sunday on Broadway, fresh from Brooklyn’s St. Ann’s Warehouse — everything you cherish about this classic has been taken out behind the barn and shot, replaced by an auteur’s bag of tricks and a thesis on gun control and westward expansion. Here, the West was won by a culture of violence and toxic masculinity — what fun!
Some of Fish’s ideas are fun. The chili and cornbread doled out to the audience at intermission is tasty, and the women snapping ears of corn during “Many A New Day” gives the scene rebellious energy. But in putting his actors in modern dress, making guns his wallpaper and forcing every moment that a gun is brandished or even mentioned to have bombastic significance, Fish clearly is saying he’s not a great fan of the culture of the Great Plains — of yesteryear or yesterday. In a preposterously heavy-handed sequence, he even has Jud present Curly with a pistol, rather than the usual knife, which leads to a shocking but inane conclusion. All this, in a hokey old show that includes the lyric, “Gonna give ya barley, carrots and potaters.” Listening to the New York audience applauding their own virtuosity makes a guy want to put this “Oklahoma!” out to pasture.
To be fair, the anti-gun message was far from the only problem presented with this show (for the record, it’s only a play when it’s not a musical. If it’s a musical, then it’s called a “show”…you know, in case you wondered. Which you probably didn’t), but it was a significant issue.
In other words, the producers and/or director figured the anti-gun message would resonate enough that it any sins they created would be automatically forgiven.
Only, they weren’t.
The problem is that when you take a classic show and interject your personal–and out of place–politics into it, what happens is rarely good. Unfortunately, the left in general has taken to making politics a central point in fiction for some time. They’ve never figured out that all they’re doing is preaching to the choir.
The only people who would potentially like this trainwreck of a Broadway production are people predisposed to agree with them on issues like guns and toxic masculinity. Even then, though, it would need to be packaged in a somewhat entertaining way. It sounds like they failed.
In other words, anti-gun artists can’t even get the arts right, much less the guns.