But Then the Helicopter Landed On the Stage
I remember a time in college where a classmate mentioned this show that he had seen. It was in an Entertainment Business class and, God bless him, he was definitely more on the business side and less on the entertainment side. But he was answering the question “what was an avant garde moment on stage that you could specifically market,” with “I saw this show and it was going normal, but then the helicopter landed on the stage.” He was referencing Miss Saigon if you aren’t someone who knows the world of Musical Theatre. It’s a retelling of Pucinni’s “Madame Butterfly” revolving around the forbidden love of an American GI and a Vietnamese bar girl during the Vietnam War. While I don’t really see myself getting cast in that show anytime soon, I think it’s an awesome show. However Playbill recently posted an article about how a touring production of the show is getting into a bit of trouble (you can read it here).
To summarize all of the complaints posted on “dontbuymiss-saigon.com” (no… I’m not making that URL up), people are complaining that the show perpetuates the ideas of over-sexualization of women, colonialism, privilege, and glorified suicide. They think this is wrong because it shouldn’t be presented to the crowd, particularly since the theatre is only doing it for the money. Here’s my position (which is both unsubstantiated and completely personal): Yes, this show has some themes that are really difficult to swallow. But isn’t that one of the points of art? Don’t people want to see things that they can really chew on? The follow-up to this is that protesters think that exposing people to this material will perpetuate the themes involved. This just seems stupid. While I understand that kids feel like they can realistically hijack cars because of playing Grand Theft Auto or can beat up on people watching action movies, I don’t see this being a realistic problem. Do you see many people watching Les Mis and then deciding to become prostitutes to make money? Are there many people watching 9 to 5 and contemplating ways of killing their boss? Well that one might be true… but regardless…
It’s a commentary piece. It’s a piece of artwork. You don’t go to the theatre to be told what your new beliefs are. This isn’t some form of political propaganda. If anything the show is shedding light on the bad stuff associated with the Vietnam War. People need to realize that some things are simply there for you to view and think about. Not every single piece of media is actionable. That being said, I have now decided I am going to go listen to The Secret Garden and begin to worry that everyone around me has cholera. See ya later!