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"Should Miss Saigon Never Again Be Produced?" was the question.
Posted by: portenopete 07:15 am EDT 04/25/21
In reply to: The Best Thing To Do Is Listen - Ordoc 02:59 am EDT 04/25/21

And the answer to that question no matter what title you insert is "No, it should NOT never again be produced". I would not want any play or musical or movie to be forbidden a production because it contains outmoded perspectives on race or gender or sexuality or religion. Or because its portrayal of a society is written from the perspective of someone from outside that society. The incontrovertible fact is that we are probably at the end of an era of cultural dominance by white men, who have been the arbiters of culture in the western canon for more than a thousand years. We're navigating the choppy waters of older generations clinging to the works that were meaningful and central to their identities while younger voices (and progressively-minded older voices) agitate for change and reexamination of the validity of bygone art.

I personally find Miss Saigon to be a boring, lousy show. I thought that thirty years ago and if someone forced me to see it again I'm betting I'd still feel the same way. But that doesn't mean I think it should be banned from production. I don't think its genesis was suspect or that Messrs. Boublil and Schonberg (or Signor Puccini, for that matter) had the intention of denigrating Asian voices and belittling the lives of its Asian characters.

I think that interest in Miss Saigon is waning and has been since the show opened. To paraphrase a 1970's title, "'Tis Supposed to Die a Natural Death".

It does seem odd and a bit hypocritical for Eva Noblezada to accept the role of Kim and the Tony nomination that went along with it and then a few years later to call for the show's cancellation. The issues the Asian-American community- and more specifically the Asian-American performing arts community- have had with the piece have been well-known and much written about since its Broadway debut was announced thirty years ago.

The assertion that anyone who disagrees with your argument "thinks BIPOC people don't count" sounds like the whine of a child. In the left-leaning, pluralistic media echo chamber in which I live, the only bending over backwards I see is the white power structure trying desperately to be sensitive and inclusive and empathetic to voices that are black and brown and Asian and female and non-cisgendered. And that's great because it will take some awkward contorting on our (white, male) part to redress the historic imbalance.

You ask if I would support a play that advocated for its queer hero to commit suicide? Well. Lillian Hellman arguably does that in The Children's Hour and Otto Preminger does the same in his film Advise and Consent, but even though their suggested solution is to end their characters' lives, I can see that from their mid-20th century perspective they were attempting to tell a humane and empathetic story and as a gay man I would definitely bend over backwards to preserve the existence of those works about gay life created by two heterosexual artists.
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