Thursday, 16 June 2016

Yeah, I hate everything

Usually, I am arrogant enough not to worry about my vocation. I keep busy with complaining about the lack of respect afforded to critics, and whining about the absence of creativity in the critical process. For some reason, however, the shooting in Orlando has ruptured my complacency. It's probably the sheer scale of the murders.

Being a theatre critic does not seem enough. Adding to the verbiage around the largest mass shooting in the USA would be nauseating: hooking an atrocity to my own obsessions only plays into the ugly narrative that includes gun advocates, 'American liberals', red flag deniers and Brexit campaigners finding time to demonstrate how Orlando proves their point. 

I'd most likely go for 'theatre isn't enough', and bemoan its failure to effect actual change. 

But I reject anger and rage. Last night, I watched some unpleasant videos on YouTube (while defending their right to exist, of course). I watched acts of violence against Trump supporters. I watched Trump advocate policies that repulse me. I listened to libertarians espouse support for a man who has combined state oppression and gestures towards freedom of expression into a populist ideology, and protesters claim that 'America is built on love, not hate', a position that I can't see reflected in its history or current politics.

At least in the UK, political debate is silly and pointless. In the USA, it seems to be about fighting. Watching footage of Trump fans being cornered by a mob, I wondered whether football hooligans in Europe were analogous with political activists in the states. As much as I support Watford, I'm not getting into a ruck with Luton fans. As much as I dislike Trump, I'm not going to join a mob and throw eggs at a single woman. 

Ah, there... I've done it. I've hitched the issues to my agenda. One question that I shall ask myself every single day: are you compassionate yet?

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