Thursday, July 27, 2017

Lying With A Camera And Selling It To Simplified MInds

Simps, has unwittingly volunteer to show what happens when fiction becomes confused for reality, a result of too much TV and Movies. He said:

"Much as the Weimar government and its free
wheeling culture in Germany gave rise to Nazism."

Absolutely. It was all the fault of the real life slut who Isherwood based Sally Bowles on.

Which is probably the kind of thing that happens when you mix up a Bob Fosse musical with history. I strongly suspect he didn't really read Christopher Isherwood, though depending on it as an accurate depiction of Berlin on the eve of the Nazi takeover is probably as bad an idea.   I don't have time to write about it, but, luckily, someone else did.  I don't have time to find the piece by Alexander Cockburn mentioned here, at the BBC, but I did read it long ago.

But 20 years after Isherwood's Berlin adventures, the stage play [I Am A Camera, etc.] is less honest about his sexuality than the originals had been. A suddenly heterosexual Isherwood has a relationship with nightclub singer Sally Bowles.

In real life there had, of course, been no such affair but Isherwood explained there had been a real Sally Bowles, a young Englishwoman in Berlin called Jean Ross.

As he wrote her, Sally's main talent is for snaring wealthy older men.

Jean Ross died in 1973 having said little about being used as the model. In reality, Ross was a political radical who went on to have a relationship with the author Claud Cockburn.

His son, Alexander Cockburn, knew her much later. "Jean was a wonderful woman, warm and gentle in demeanour. She couldn't have been more unlike the rather tinny character portrayed in Sally Bowles. She was extremely intelligent, politically alert and vital. She probably found the portrait painted by Isherwood rather irritating."

Ross may have been annoyed at Isherwood's invention but the success of Jan Van Druten's 1951 Broadway play I am a Camera (filmed in 1955) meant the writer was now losing control of his own creations.

Later he said the regular arrival of cheques soothed his wounded self-regard.

In 1966, the play became the hit musical Cabaret. Six years later came Bob Fosse's massively successful movie version, starring Liza Minnelli.

Professor Norman Page says by this time little resemblance remained to the "real" Sally Bowles. "In fact near the end of his life Isherwood admitted he couldn't really remember what Jean Ross had been like. The memories had been overlaid by all the actresses who played her various reincarnations," he says.

But, he says: "In all their different versions his stories and characters evoke a crucial period in European history - even if what we learn about the realities of '30s Berlin is quite limited. His picture is rather sanitised - Berlin was a place of great hardship and suffering but you don't see much of that."

Professor Page says changing literary taste will keep the stories alive. "Isherwood operates in an area which has become more interesting to us in recent years: the frontiers of fiction and autobiography and the whole nature of truth-telling in fiction."

Only, I don't think there should be a frontier, mixing fiction and autobiography (though you're always asking for trouble when you don't fact check someones account of their own life) and I certainly think the confusion of fiction and, worse, show biz with history is not only a bad idea but positively dangerous.  There should be a bright line separating them, if not an impenetrable wall. What do you suppose replaces history in the mind of Donald Trump?  Rand Paul?  Paul Ryan?

Simels, like Trump, Paul, Ryan et al, are a product of the post-truth culture brought on by peoples minds being fed by TV and Movies and pop-culture and celebrity culture and crap pseudo-historical musicals.  Nothing matters, nothing means anything.  Nothing is real, there's nothing to get hung about.  Yeah, I did intend to go there.

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