Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Killing Lincoln... and Sinclair

            The America Play and U.S.! have many striking similarities. Even their titles, like most great works, give a great peak into the nature of their depths and their meanings. Both titles are clever and humor filled. The American Play is a brilliant title because it is a mini “play” that is acted out every time someone pays to assassinate Lincoln, and the exclamation point alone in U.S.!’s title makes me want to befriend mister Bachelder. They both also use a moniker for the United States of America, as both are concerned with America’s culture, history, and future.
            In regard to America’s history, they both clearly take real characters and either literally revive them (continuously) or revive them through an impersonator. By reviving the figure from the past, each narrative is able to comment on America’s past, and its seemingly insatiable need to repeat it in the future. The revival does not simply bring back an individual person, but all that they represent to society—both to those who revile them as well as the epigones. As life and death are two sides to the same coin, each time that Lincoln or Sinclair or revived the authors give the other present day characters the opportunity to kill and suppress not only the person of Lincoln or Sinclair, but all that they represent—change, liberalism, etc.
            This act brings up interesting questions about current forms of popular amusement, and what they say about our future. In The America Play, some patrons choose to use a replica of the weapon that John Wilkes-Booth used for historical accuracy, while others choose cooler, more destructive killing tools for the ‘fun’ of it. Similarly, it becomes a popular practice for many to take part in the assassinating of Sinclair, with the most accomplished killers gaining wide notoriety. Further, in the test results of a video game, it shown that the kids do not want to play as the true, virtuous heroes; they just “want to shoot things.”

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