Using the metaphor of the theater for political comment has its dangers. Style may easily be mistaken for substance and aesthetic for political judgments. Since there is a widespread adaptation of the techniques of entertainment to politics, there is the further danger of reinforcing the effects of those techniques. Yet for events like the New York transit strike, the metaphor can be useful.
In any case, once Mike Quill appeared on the scene, it is almost impossible to resist the language of the theater critic. His brogue and his rhetoric combined to give so theatrical an effect that “ham” became an instinctive response. But even as he reminded us of a bad performance in an impossible melodrama, he managed to capture a certain sympathy. Quill’s eccentric style came as a welcome relief to a public aware of the techniques used to manipulate it. Eventually, however, he made us uneasy. The brogue began to grate; the mispronunciation of “Lindsley” for...
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