Friday, July 09, 2004

Field Report: From Darkest Liberalism

So my friend Anthony, whom I've known since 3rd grade, wrote a play. A really good play in my opinion. Not his first. But he decided to produce this one himself. And was having a heck of a time finding available actors. See there's this thing called the Minnesota Fringe Festival, of which this play is a part. It's a tremendous gathering of theater junkies from the Upper Midwest and beyond. It attracts good, bad, and all in between to put on a show. Negative side effect: it tends to suck up all the local talent lickety-split, leaving author-producers like my friend high and dry.

I know this because I got a call out of the blue a couple of weeks ago at work. As diplomatically as possible, Anthony let me know they were having a wee problem finding anyone to fill 2 of the 5 roles in his script. And would I care to have one?

Funny. Last time I acted was my sophomore year of college. I was a theater major at the time. My final acting gig was in a little play Anthony directed for class credit. Sixteen years ago.

I left theater shortly after, not because I didn't like it. And not because I decided I needed a more practical major (I ended up majoring in Anthropology for gosh sake). I left because the people in the theater department were terrible people to be around. Close minded, cliquish, and rather dim. I put all of theatre aside. Graduated. Got married. Tried a bit of grad school. Moved. Got a job which unintentionally became a career. Became a dad thrice over. And now... here I am. 35 years old, a conservative Republican from the suburbs. And a voice from my past (well not that far past - we've gotten together on occasion for dinner or drinks) beckons me back to that world I left behind long ago.

Of course I accepted.

And suddenly I found myself in the midst of a strange breed of creature I normally only hear about from a safe distance: Liberals. And I don't mean the namby-pamby, Katie-Couric-loving, PTA member type. These are the hard-core Bush-is-a Nazi, Michael-Moore-is-a-prophet, gay-marriage-is-the-new-civil-rights-movement sort.

We rehearse in the WAY liberal Uptown area of Minneapolis. It has been a blast.

Now the fire-eaters out there think my enjoyment must come from arguing with them and showing them up. But they'd be wrong. It's quite the opposite. Maybe it's the lingering anthropologist in me (see above), but I just shut my mouth and observe the liberal in his natural habitat. They seem to have accepted me as one of their own and so I get to see really interesting stuff.

First, the obvious. They all hate Bush. And Aschcroft. And the Patriot Act. They don't have any deep reasons why. I doubt any of them have ever encounterd a serious objection to this opinion.

And they esteem Michael Moore. But in their world view he seems redundant. Like "Duh, we KNOW already." But they seem to think he's doing good in getting the word out to the ignorant masses, and that's probably important, or something.

Two big revelations:

1. These people are still living in September 10th. If not in fact, in spirit, they believe events like September 11th only happen when evil men like Bush hold office. They really, truly, and deeply have no notion that this is threatening to us as a nation. To them it's just an extension of partisan politics. The idea that a foreign power would hold both the noble liberals and evil conservatives of our country in equal contempt is not remotely considered.

2. These are not bad people. They're not die-hard socialists. They're not blind to multi-cultural foolishness. They simply have very little exposure to any credible worldview other than the liberal one. And any counter vision would challenge SO much of their self-image and their social relationships, that the bar for alternative vision is staggeringly high.

More reports as I get more deeply entrenched.


Blogger Maddad said...

Interesting, I was a theater major for a year and switched for EXACTLY the same reason. Have fun with it!

1:00 PM  

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