Thursday, January 8, 2009

Weimar soundbite

Leftist American and European pop culture has long been wedded to the notion that Weimar Germany is the template for Western society, that we are waiting for the social and economic hammer to fall, producing a right-wing backlash that will usher in the next Hitler – portrayed, successively, by Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, Jesse Helms and Newt Gingrich, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

The latest example of this dystopian genre – oddly, premiering on the eve of Barack Obama’s inauguration as president – is “Addicted to Bad Ideas: Peter Lorre’s 20th Century,” a cabaret-style musical described as a “punk Songspiel,” starring Lorre impersonator Jack Terricloth and his band, the World/Inferno Friendship Society.

Ben Sisario, in The New York Times, is not making this up:

Isn't this shtick getting pretty shopworn? And if, as the pundits predict, the political right is in for a long spell out of power, who will be the dystopians' new demons? Are Sarah Palin and Rick Warren scary enough to sustain this cultural cottage industry?