- Film critic David Denby
This morning I read a newspaper item that first amused me, then pissed me off. As I write this, Paul Simon's new musical THE CAPEMAN is set to premiere on Broadway. It's about Salvadore Agron, a killer who was the youngest man ever on Death Row. A group called Parents of Murdered Children plans to picket the premiere. Says executive director Nancy Ruhe-Munch, the musical "re-victimizes those who have already been affected by the murder of a loved one."
I laughed at first, as I said, but the more I thought about it, the more steam I worked up. Why not protest any production of RICHARD III because the two young princes get whacked? The possibilities and implications are endless. And scary.
This comes on the heels of complaints about MR. MAGOO because it supposedly makes fun of blind people (the studio responded with a PC disclaimer that's said to be funnier than anything in the film), and NOW's protests against Prodigy's song "Smack My Bitch Up." As a card-carrying liberal, I feel the way intelligent conservatives must feel whenever Rush Limbaugh spouts off. Extremists give a black eye to everyone in their political group.
I guarantee you, if you went up to any rational woman and asked about "Smack My Bitch Up," went up to any rational blind person and asked about MR. MAGOO, or went up to any rational bereaved parent and asked about THE CAPEMAN, you'd get a shrug and a response like, "It's only a song/movie/musical."
My heart goes out to parents whose children have been murdered; I feel for blind people, and I sympathize with women trying to stay afloat in a patriarchal society. That doesn't mean I have to agree with every dippy objection made by crybabies who presume to speak for all women, blind people, and parents of murdered children. What these people really want is for the objectionable stuff to go away. What they want is a politically correct form of censorship.
Pressure groups and political organizations (what's the difference?) usually start out trying to correct injustice. Which is fine. I'm not a big fan of injustice myself. But once they see how complex the problems are, they start looking for little battles they can win. It's easier to make noise about a Prodigy song than to figure out how to keep shelters open for battered women.
The irony is that their efforts achieve the exact opposite result. Go ahead, tell me something is offensive and immoral -- it makes me that much more interested in it, just to see what the fuss is about. They end up doing great free publicity for the very thing they're trying to make go away. A women's group at my alma mater learned that the hard way when they tried to get AMERICAN PSYCHO pulled from the campus bookstore.
So here's what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna write my own Broadway musical. I'm gonna call it "Smack My Blind Underage Bitch Up Until She Dies." Smart people will get the joke. Stupid people -- or maybe just easily offended people with a lot of misplaced anger -- will picket it, ticket sales will zoom, and I'll be rich.