Billy Elliot: The musical

I have seen neither the film nor the Broadway musical “Billy Elliot.” Wall Street Journal theater critic Terry Teachout finds the musical “shamelessly bogus” and describes it as “a Thatcher-bashing, big-budget, three-hour glamfest that makes tough-minded noises but ends up being a 20-hankie weeper.” Alluding to the ballet dancing hero of the piece, the Journal headlines Teachout’s review “Karl Marx in a tutu.” With music by Elton John, the show is a big hit.

The Journal also dispatched Roger Kimball, a fan of the film, to check out the Broadway musical. Kimball derides the clichéd left-wing politics that infuse the musical. He observes: “It’s an odd phenomenon. In theaters and museums across the Western world you find audiences applauding sentiments that, were they translated into the real world, would spell their demise.”

Kimball’s observation is widely applicable beyond theaters and museums. James Burnham devoted a book to the syndrome in the context of the Cold War, calling it Suicide of the West. The phenomenon that Kimball detects also manifests itself, for example, in the hand-wringing of the New York Times over the definition of terrorism and the refusal to call a “terrorist” a “terrorist.”

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