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14 Jun, 2017 13:31

Trump-like Caesar performance: Pushing boundaries of art or creating climate of hate?

Trump-like Caesar performance: Pushing boundaries of art or creating climate of hate?

Artists have the right to social critique, says Daniel Shaw of the City University of New York. If any kind of violence was depicted against Hillary Clinton, there would be riots, argues journalist Mike Cernovich.

A performance of Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’ by a New York City’s Public Theater sparked massive controversy after a Donald Trump lookalike Julius Caesar with a red tie and svelte wife with a Slovenian accent was brutally killed on stage.

The play staged in Central Park came under fire for allegedly inciting violence. Several sponsors of the theatre, Delta Airlines and Bank of America among them, pulled their financial support, saying the production is in bad taste.

The creative director of the theater insisted the production “in no way advocates violence towards anyone.”

RT discussed this controversy with journalist and writer Mike Cernovich, and Daniel Shaw of the City University of New York.

Daniel Shaw argues that the theater may “have crossed some literary lines, but I don’t think they have crossed any others.”

“Artists and literary critics should have the right to write their plays and sing their songs and bring social critique into that. So, I see nothing wrong with this enactment of Julius Caesar. That is part of the entire denouement of the plot that plays out. It is more about the succession of power, who is going to take power. They did something similar four years ago when Barack Obama was in office. So, I don’t think it has crossed any line,” he said. 

Mike Cernovich, however, recalled that when his friend, an artist in New York, “wanted to do a pro-Trump art exhibit… he was banned from the entire New York art establishment, couldn’t even book a venue.”

“So, it is ironic that people are talking about art and how it should push boundaries and test limits,” he said.

As for the Trump-like Caesar, he went on to say, “this play is protected free speech by 100 percent.”

“I think it’s violent; I think it sends a bad message. But nobody is claiming that the artists don’t have the right to have the free speech to do that. The issue is that it is creating a climate of hate…  The left is always trying to censor people on the right and silence us wherever they can. But in the minute they do something provocative which is way worse than anything that I or any of my colleagues have ever done, they want to talk about free speech in art,” Cernovich added.

“I fully support criticizing Trump, I fully support going after him hard,” he said. What’s ironic though, according to Cernovich, is when these artists and critics “cry when he hits back.”

“The Kathy Griffin with the effigy of bloody head of Trump (link to our story), mock assassinations of Trump… If there would be an art performance where Hillary Clinton or someone like Clinton has been raped in the park, if the Central Park Five rape would be reenacted with Hillary Clinton being depicted there, there would be a complete and total pandemonium, there would be riots in the streets. There is definitely a clear double standard at work,” he said.

He also thinks that if there were any kind of “vulgar, crude violence” being depicted against Hillary Clinton, “there would definitely be riots.”  

Shaw responded: “It is interesting to hear Mike in a good old boys club… complaining about censorship when the entire media apparatus in this country is in their hands.”

He insists the controversial play is an art form rather than hate speech.

“The hate speech in this country is created against Muslims, against immigrants… against women. So for Mike to talk about that he and his people are victimized as well is to take concrete reality and to turn it on its head,” he said.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.