Saturday, July 31, 2004


This play, the latest assault on Our Noble Leader by those "freedom"-speaking appeasers of Old Europe, opened in Paris to wild acclaim by the usual liberal suspects. It revises Jean Anouilh's update of Sophocles' Antigone, to refer instead to the Bush family. The vile French critics praise it as the MacBird of the new millennium.

In a masterpiece of miscasting, the producers tried to appeal to younger audiences by giving the title role to Jessica Simpson. This forced much rewriting, since her French is more like Homer Simpson's. Often the king recites her lines as well, prefaced by "you'd probably say that....", followed by her "Oui." This makes much of the confrontation between them a monologue. That slows down the play since the actor is now 78, but at least they got a winner of their own Legion of Honor to play the part, longtime French favorite Jerry Lewis.

Jenntigone is clearly intended to be Our Noble Leader's daughter. He himself, called Georgipe here, is already dead before the play begins. The Paris audience burst into wild applause when the Chorus recited his totally tasteless story. Georgipe had bombed a city, then found out later this had killed his own father, who was there secretly negotiating oil contracts. Worse, a blind blogger revealed to him that in a drunken stupor when young, Georgipe had sex with his own mother. Horrified, his mom committed suicide, while he castrated himself and resigned. The author of the new version defends this change, saying the self-blinding in Sophocles was just a euphemism, much like the one in Matthew 5:29:
Mais si ton oeil droit est pour toi une occasion de chute, arrache-le et jette-le loin de toi; car il est avantageux pour toi qu'un de tes membres périsse, et que tout ton corps ne soit pas jeté dans la géhenne.
There are many other changes. The new king, Créon, is now named Chenéon. Antigone's sister Ismène is now Barbe. The nameless guard who drags Antigone to the king is now called Cendrecroft. The most startling variation for the sake of political correctness is to Créon's son Hémon, who was engaged to marry Antigone. In this version, they still plan to wed, but in Massachusetts, since the boy has now become Chenéon's lesbian daughter, Marie.

Jenntigone is not arrested for burying her brother, but for speaking up for her Uncle Jebice, who had challenged Chenéon for their party's nomination. As punishment, he was exiled to Guantanamo and the same punishment was proclaimed for any that defended him. Chenéon goes to great lengths to persuade Jenntigone to retract her endorsement, but cannot persuade her. She is unimpressed by his defense of his ruthlessness:
Il faut pourtant quil y en ait qui mènent la barque. Cela prend leau de toutes parts, cest plein de crimes, de bêtise, de misère… On prend le bout de bois, on redresse devant la montagne deau, on gueule un ordre et on tire dans le tas, sur le premier qui savance. Dans le tas!
He finally convinces her to give up by telling her what the CIA files show about how Uncle Jebice had even been conspiring against her own father. But as she turns to leave, and he tells her to resign herself to disillusionment and just be drunk and happy, she rebels again, asking him:
Quel sera-t-il, mon bonheur? Quelle femme heureuse deviendra-t-elle, la petite Jenntigone? Quelles pauvretés faudra-t-il quelle fasse elle aussi, jour par jour, pour arracher avec ses dents son petit lambeau de bonheur? Dites, à qui devra-t-elle mentir, à qui sourire, à qui se vendre? Qui devra-t-elle laisser mourir en détournant le regard?
So at the end he has her carried off to Guantanamo as well. She beats the rap by suicide, downing an entire bottle of whiskey. Her fiancée Marie kills herself with one of Chenéon's duck-hunting rifles. The king's wife Lynndice takes her life as well:
Et puis elle est passée dans sa chambre, sa chambre à lodeur de lavande, aux petits napperons brodés et aux cadres de peluche, pour sy couper la gorge, Chenéon.
I hate to see this abuse of literature. I confess that, like Hegel (who translated the play twice), I've always liked the noble and dutiful Antigone, who followed a Higher Law and ignored mere mortal statutes. I regret that part of her final scene in Sophocles, translated by Banks as "I, a bride, to Acheron belong", was reduced by Anouilh to "O tombeau! O lit nuptial! O ma demeure souterraine!…" The original had inspired me in younger days to name a jazz-rock group Bride of Acheron. Perhaps the classical reference to one of the rivers of Hades was too obscure, and no big record label ever bought the self-produced album, Sketches of Space. (I played guitar, and no, there are no copies available.) Now the group would probably be confused with the latest pair of films by Quentin Tarentino, who put himself on my blacklist for being one of the judges that gave Michael Moore's propaganda a film prize in France.

Today both Sophocles and Anouilh must be spinning in their graves. If this leftist wet dream were staged in America, the subversives behind it would all be visited by the Secret Service, and warned seriously that putting on such corrosive fantasies means the terrorists have won. If a play in Paris had attacked Muslims the way this insults Our Noble Leader, the French would have shut it down as hate speech. But to them, W is fair game for any vicious libel. Meanwhile, negotiations are under way to produce it in Germany and Palestine. Their jealous hatred of us for our freedom knows no bounds.

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