Every now and then I see posts on social media that just make me sad. The latest are the ones about the Shakespeare in the Park production of Julius Caesar in which a president who looks a lot like Donald Trump gets stabbed to death. Apparently, liberals love it and conservatives hate it.
As someone who remembers the history of Rome and has actually read the play and watched it several times … this is completely backwards.
Caesar (in Shakespeare’s play and in real life) was a competent, well-meaning leader who strengthened Rome and its republic. He was murdered by anti-republican cowards who immediately installed a dictatorship which led directly to the fall of the Roman empire.
Caesar was the hero. Mark Antony’s speech was a masterpiece of calling out cowards and liars who had betrayed their country and its legitimate leader.
For a liberal to praise this play, he must condemn his own kind. For a conservative to complain about it … is to admit he missed Shakespeare’s point.
I tend to believe that, as so often happens, young, politically idealistic liberals designed a scene based entirely on appearance and emotional impact with no concern for its actual substance and meaning and conservatives jerked their knees to the style without realizing the Shakespeare was speaking for them.
But what do I know. Maybe if Shakespeare were alive today he’d be writing plays with antifas heroes. And monkeys might fly out of my butt. The only real lesson here is that art is wasted on people whose idea of subtlety is holding up a severed head, setting trash cans on fire and chanting.