By Gaëtan L. Charlebois
What I found most abhorrent in this last week's imbroglio was that from its very start we were meant to adopt a party line...
And especially people
Who care about strangers
Who care about evil
And social injustice
Do you only
Care about the bleeding crowd?
How about a needing friend?
Easy to be Hard (James Rado, Jerome Ragni)
* * * * * *
The worst thing about being left wing is that all our lovely, big-hearted theories about how things should be just wonderful - ideas which look great on paper suddenly...
...hit the wall of real life.
What first flew out the window in our discussions was empathy.
Take Bertrand Cantat, the man who killed his wife, Marie Trintignant and who was scheduled to perform at TNM next year. Suddenly our ideas about artistic freedom and freedom of speech, about women's rights and domestic violence, about justice and expiation collided in one big horrifying clusterfuck.
What first flew out the window in our discussions was empathy. We too often forgot that at the core of our debates were real people. We headed to the abstract when we should have been dealing with the human.
What I found most abhorrent in this last week's imbroglio was that from its very start we were meant to adopt a party line - artistic freedom and reintegration of ex-cons into society - quite irresponsibly ignoring a dead woman, mother of four - a member of the larger artistic family. We were also meant to ignore her devastated father, also an actor, and her bereaved mother, a writer/playwright.
What astounds is that from the start (and to the end) people I profoundly admire - Lorraine Pintal, the TNM's artistic director, and Wajdi Mouawad, one of our most respected creators - apparently never guessed how imposing a convicted killer on theatre-goers would play out. They were proving, as were their vociferous supporters, that they were Paper Leftists of the first order.
For Paper Leftists Cantat was simply a cause to be defended.
During this fantastically chaotic and ugly debate (which reached its nadir on Tout le monde en parle, last Sunday), one fact seemed obvious to me and just jangled around in my head until it literally made me physically tired: too soon, too soon, too soon.
For Paper Leftists Cantat was simply a cause to be defended. Few actually empathized with the man himself - he and the way Mouawad and Pintal were using him was what was important. One commentator actually said a production of a Greek tragedy would become more textured for Cantat's presence.
For many others on the left, it was about the Trintignants. As this hideous business played out, fingers were pointed at this second group. They were called demagogues with two-cent arguments.
Mme Pintal said, in her press conference, that she was surprised by the "violence" of the discussion. It's an unfortunate choice of words. Simply because - and all the Paper Leftists should remember this - there is real violence in the world. Male fists smash into female faces; real, unsymbolic blood flows; and the air is rent by the screams of women who are not acting in a Greek play.