Friday, November 23, 2007

Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel

Lora and I just finished watching Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel. I have just one response: ugh. The songs were well written and performed, the choreography was fun, and the moral outlook endorsed therein was positively sickening.

According to this musical, you can be a scoundrel, sleep with your employer, hang out with unsavory characters, marry an innocent young girl, beat her, and get yourself killed during an attempted robbery while she is pregnant with your child, and you can still be an okay guy who is worth loving. There is no moral opprobrium attached to the fact that he was a thief or hit his wife, and the writing even goes so far as to make those who condemn him seem stuck up and snobbish for doing so.

On top of that, this guy gets one chance to "redeem himself." He gets to come back from some theological no-mans-land for one day to help his family. He then proceeds to try to give his fifteen year old daughter a star which he pinched from said theological no-mans-land, and gets into an argument with her when she refuses to accept presents from a stranger. An argument, I might add, which ends when he strikes her! But apparently, it's possible for him to hit people without hurting them, since both his wife and daughter describe it as being 'as gentle as a kiss.' Never fear, though! He redeems himself by following her to her "graduation ceremony," at which he redeems himself by successfully exhorting her (as a disembodied voice) to listen to her graduation speaker. He then, still as a voice only, tells his wife he loved her, which apparently he had never said while alive. Redemption achieved. Fin.


Anyone who contends that moral relativism is a recent addition to Hollywood's repertoire has obviously never seen Carousel, which was released in 1956. Good grief.


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