Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Great Balls of Fire: Bring Tennessee Williams Back From the Dead

The man, the myth...
Maybe it's just me, but being on social media as much as I am, I've started to notice some kind of weird trend. Everyone seems to be quoting or alluding to the late great playwright and I'm sure it's some kind of bizarre coincidence but it really got me thinking. The last time we saw a revival of perhaps arguably the greatest American playwright's work was over 2 years ago with 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof' with miss no-press-is-bad-press pretentious cunthole Scarlet Johansson as Maggie the Cat. 
Yes, there was a revival of his most famous and world-changing play; A Streetcar Named Desire (in my opinion the greatest American play of all time), but no one saw it and the revival stank. 
There's also s re-boot of 'The Glass Menagerie' with Zachary Quino (I shit you not) but I'm not even going to go there. I really think the problem is that people don't understand the work of Tennessee Williams anymore. With all of the BS the millenial generation has thrust upon us, his work seems somehow dated and archaic. To which I reply; that's some shit to the bull. Yes, all of his place take place in the deep Delta south, yes all of his plays deal with homosexuality and the ambivalence that stems from it, yes all of his plays are melodramatic and violent, but what the hell man? We could you some homosexual ambivalence and melodramatic violence in our personality annihilating existences. 
In a culture where public figures (particularly women) are on a constant quest towards self-destruction like Miley Cyrus or Kim Kardashian, wouldn't it be better to instead take a page from Blanche Dubois' book? Now there's a person who truly loses everything, and there's a person actually worth crying for. At least stop casting young up-and-comers to emote in some of the most emotionally difficult material ever written. 

ScarJo in a promotional poster for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (2012)
Here's someone who paid perfect homage to the scribe; Woody Allen. With his film Blue Jasmine (2013), everyone instantly knew that it was a take on 'A Streetcar Named Desire', by plot, character, and well...everything in between. This is nothing new of Allen, he did this with many a film. Match Point (2005) was a reboot of his earlier film Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), Love and Death (1975) was an homage to all things Ingmar Bergman and Dostoyevsky, so on and so forth. But the difference with Woody is, he's bright. And he really gets the material.

The parallels between Jasmine and Blanche were too great to miss. 
He knew absolutely how to adapt a play that is let's admit it, somewhat dated, and make it completely new and compelling, and couldn't have cast it better, and the Academy will back me up on that. Hashtag suck it. 

The film version of A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) with a very young Brando (whom let's face it owned that fucking role) and Vivien Leigh who...did the same with hers. 
I say it's time to bring Tennessee to the masses once again, not just in the rickety seats of Broadway theaters, but everywhere. I know that's a blanket statement, but just try it. Incorporate it into your lexicon, you'll be surprised at how much smarter if not a tad pretentious you sound. I remember on an episode of Bravo's Southern Charm (please kill me) one of the men uses 'The Glass Menagerie 'as a metaphor for a girl he lost in his youth, and everyone is giggling to themselves because he's using the metaphor totally wrong. But hey at least, he alluded to it. That being said, he IS Southern, they probably know a lot more Tennessee Williams allusions than the rest of us, and there's nothing wrong with that. So as I said, there's more and more of him popping up. And that's always a good thing. When I first discovered him at 19, I consistently and consecutively read every single one of his plays and some I still know by heart. So if you haven't, get on that. It still sizzles with sex, mendacity, deceit, sensuality, and that pungent smell of magnolia in the Summer twilight. 


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