Cultural grandees called out over Trump assassination shoehorned into Shakespeare

Trump Derangement Syndrome, the corrosive and obsessive anger felt by progressives enraged over the electorate's decision last November, has claimed another victim.  Shakespeare in the Park, formerly a bulletproof philanthropy enabling New Yorkers to see the Bard's masterpieces for free in Central Park, has lost two longstanding corporate sponsors, one permanently.

The reason, as explained by Breitbart

[T]his summer's Oskar Eustis-directed production of Julius Caesar – which opened in previews last month in Central Park's Delacorte Theater – had sparked controversy over its main character's striking resemblance to President Trump. The character sports blonde, slicked-back hair and a business suit and tie, and his wife Calpurnia speaks with a Slavic accent, similar to that of First Lady Melania Trump.

Video captured at a recent performance shows the Trump-like Caesar character graphically stabbed to death during the climax of the play. One attendee recently told Mediaite that the character's resemblance to Trump made the assassination scene particularly "shocking and distasteful."


The fury of TDS suspended common sense on an institutional basis.  Hundreds of people, among them sophisticated and wealthy cultural grandees, had to know that a sitting POTUS lookalike would be assassinated onstage in a production in a public park, with government and corporate subsidy.  But nobody apparently thought there might be negative reactions, or – more likely – they eagerly anticipated outraging the kind of people they hate.

Apparently, it never occurred to them that an institution founded in 1954, almost universally praised (who can object to bringing Shakespeare to those with little money?), could be harmed.  Or maybe they don't care, which would make them actual cultural vandals.

The inevitable happened.  The New York Times, which remains a corporate sponsor of the play, reports:

New York's Public Theater lost support from two high-profile corporate donors, Delta Air Lines and Bank of America, on Sunday amid intense criticism of its production of Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar," which depicts the assassination of a Trump-like Roman ruler.

The companies' decisions came after days of criticism online and in right-leaning media outlets that was amplified by Donald Trump Jr., a son of the president, who appeared to call into question the theater's funding sources on Twitter on Sunday morning.

"No matter what your political stance may be, the graphic staging of 'Julius Caesar' at this summer's Free Shakespeare in the Park does not reflect Delta Air Lines' values," the company said in a statement on Sunday night.

"Their artistic and creative direction crossed the line on the standards of good taste," the company said. "We have notified them of our decision to end our sponsorship as the official airline of the Public Theater effective immediately."

Bank of America followed hours later, saying it would withdraw financial support from the production of "Julius Caesar" but would not end its financial relationship with the theater, which a spokeswoman, Susan Atran, said had lasted for 11 years.

"The Public Theater chose to present 'Julius Caesar' in a way that was intended to provoke and offend," Ms. Atran said. "Had this intention been made known to us, we would have decided not to sponsor it. We are withdrawing our funding for this production."

The play has been in previews, which is how the assassination was publicized.  It opens tonight.  So far, there are no signs of protests, but that could change.

The self-destructive compulsion to act out on infantile impulses of anger has so infected the coastal urban elites that normal instincts of self-preservation have been short-circuited.  The obvious comparison to the national outrage sparked when Tuffy Gessling, a rodeo clown working at the Missouri State Fair in 2013, donned an Obama mask evidently occurred to none of the elitists.

Or maybe, in their arrogance, it did, and they believed that their cultural power would protect them.  Poor Tuffy was sentenced to indoctrination sensitivity training, received a lifetime ban from the Missouri State Fair, and provoked much chin-pulling commentary bloviating on race and civility.  No signs yet of any such reflection on the part of the Times or American Express, which remain corporate sponsors.

One has to wonder: are all of these people hoping to inspire an assassination attempt?  All the blather about "artistic freedom" and "timeless message to tyrants" cannot overcome the fact that haters are cheering the assassination of a character they see as Trump, planting the idea in deranged minds that they, too, could be cheered for acting out what they just saw. 

Oskar Eustis, the famous director of the play, and Gregg Henry, the actor portraying Caesar, are far richer and better connected than Tuffy Gessling.  They will not face any lifetime bans, and they won't be attending any sensitivity training sessions, either.  More likely, they will be lionized, and they can look forward to being honored for their "courage."

The rest of us, and those businesses dependent on our patronage, are drawing other conclusions.