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the broadway revival of parade made me furious

for those unfamiliar, parade is a musical about … ahem … the lynching of leo frank

this is a bit of a long one, so sorry for the rant, but i need to get this out of my head somehow, because this show made me very angry

and content warning for some pretty unsettling stories of antisemitic violence, indifference to it, and sanitization of it

the show opens with a young confederate soldier being in love with his girlfriend before going off to fight against the united states – ya know, that war they fought so they could keep their slaves? – to the tune of this very triumphantly arranged song about ‘the old hills of georgia’ while chorus members wave confederate flags around

so … bad start

the story proceeds from there – the rest of the first half is inoffensive enough, frank is convicted, its obviously a setup, the people who put him in jail are portrayed as obviously gross, thats fine

but then, in the second half, things go all the way off the rails (they started off the rails, got somewhat back on, then left the rails altogether)

first, the show goes out of its way to heavily imply that the black janitor murdered the little girl, which theres seemingly no evidence for in real life, and even though its properly irrelevant to what happened to frank

second, the show seems to give an awful lot of uncritical airtime to the people who fight to keep frank on death row – the judge and the prosecutor from the trial have a very sedate, seemingly reasonable song about ‘the old ways’ being ‘peaceful’ and ‘change is good but it should be slow’

and then theres the lynching itself, which happens on stage and is horrifyingly sanitized

one confederate in army gray is there, but the rest of the people are just random folks – theres nothing else about the staging to indict anybody elses indifference to or tolerance of what happened here (the people who lynched frank were well known – far from being punished or disappearing into obscurity, they were prominent people, and they were cheered)

the murderers are very polite to frank, they agree to deliver his wedding ring to his wife (she apparently never received the ring in real life – she does get it in the show)

and THEN, in a properly sacrilegious turn – right before frank is going to be hanged – he says the shema TO THE TUNE OF THE OLD HILLS OF GEORGIA SONG

then leo frank promptly vanishes below the stage and is immediately replaced by a lamp

we see the dead little girl floating above the stage throughout the show, but we never see leo again

the muckraking journalist character, who whipped up the moral panic against frank in the first place, all of a sudden seems shocked and very contrite – the show really does make it seem like the community at large was appalled by what happened, even though in real life they were thrilled

THEN the flags come back out, though theyre american flags this time, and another young southerner gets ready to go off to war – this time world war 1 – implying … what exactly? that the confederates were just americans all along? that fighting imperial germany in the beginning of the 20th century was the same as georgia fighting to keep their slaves? that were all the same if you really think about it? why cant we all just get along?

all to that same triumphant song about the old hills of georgia

and then the show ends with a modern southern couple cracking open a beer while georgia … reopens the leo frank case in 2019? even though frank was officially pardoned in 1986? the pardon isnt mentioned – the show makes it seem like this is still an open question

the klan isnt mentioned either, even though it was reinvigorated and refounded because in large part southern racists were so emboldened by the fact that they openly murdered a jew for fun and never caught a single consequence over it

i hear that a lot of elements that were more directly critical of the south – the conversation between the judge and the prosecutor having them swinging fishing poles like whips making it VERY clear that by ‘the old ways’ they mean them being slaveowners, a very direct throughline from the group that lynched frank to the beer drinking georgians in the end scene – these were present at some point, but they were clearly cut (perhaps in a concession to the nazis protesting the show?)

you simply cannot responsibly sell tickets to a show that starts with the triumphant waving of confederate flags, features the sanitized lynching of a jew (of anybody), and then ends with georgians in modern day cracking a beer to triumphant music

if you portray some horrible, systemic crime in an attempt to ‘deconstruct’ it or ‘horrify’ people with it, you have to do work to make sure that happens – if you dont, you portray the events as less horrifying than they were – you minimize them, sanitize them – which is (at best) what this production did

surprising maybe, but perhaps a lynching isnt suitable subject matter for a broadway musical?

absolutely galling; dont buy tickets to this … thing

submitted by /u/bnr_keynes
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Source: Reditt

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