Axiom vs. Ego

A masterpiece cannot be improved upon. That’s why it’s called a masterpiece, e.g., the film, The Wizard of Oz, the sculpture, Pieta, the opera Aida.

Yet, there are revisionists who unconscionably ‘create’ new versions of masterpieces. The latest of these is the current production of To Kill a Mockingbird. Reviews are glowing, money is rolling- in, but once again a masterpiece has been assaulted.

In this “adaptation,” the favorite moral axiom of relativists is celebrated. Yes, the crowd that tells us there are no absolutes, has its own absolute.  For just one but significant example, the principal character (Atticus Finch) is written, directed, and portrayed with less integrity than his original character.

The ‘reason’ for that change (and others like it) is that the auteurs involved wanted the play to be ‘contemporaneous,’ the conceit of our time. For them, that means, “we now know that no one can be as morally good as Atticus.” That is the moral absolute of relativists. In this case it is also in absolute compliance with the dominant drum beat of the time. That includes: “If you want approval, stress  racial injustice  beyond that of the original work.” (Or, if possible, beyond reality.)

The greatest injustice about this attitude is that younger people will never know the value of the original work. The same is true of the distorted ‘revivals’ of Fiddler on the Roof  and other great classic musicals. The essence of masterpieces is that they are timeless. Performers and musical conductors assist their longevity by their artistry (just as opera singers do). Changes for clarity are an insult to an audience. To Kill a Mockingbird speaks for itself.

So do The Wizard of Oz, Pieta, and Aida.

The glowing reviews and the money rolling- in for successful classic adaptations is a great injustice supported by unqualified reviewers (not all of them, of course), and audiences that have never seen ─ or even known ─ the original classics.

The ego of directors and producers fuel this cultural travesty. Shame on them.

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