Monday, March 31, 2014

US! and The America Play

US! by Chris Bachelder and The America Play by Suzan-Lori Parks have very similar overarching themes. Both works revisit historical figures in a modern context and continuously resurrect them in order to comment on the state of America today. Bachelder’s uses the repeated killing and resurrection of Upton Sinclair to explain society’s tendency to repeat the past. Sinclair here represents not himself, but the ideals he stood for and social upheaval. In the same vein, Parks uses the assassinations of the Lincoln impersonator to show that society cyclically brings back and suppresses the ideals of the past; people constantly revive these ideals in order to bring about social change while those opposed to change attempt to remove them from society. Both authors make a point here with their respective caricatures of modern society, that rather than falling prey to this vicious cycle, society can use the past simply as reference for what change is to come. The historical figures and their beliefs are portrayed as victims of societal tension but that may not even be half of the problem. As shown in the results of the video game study, some kids just want to shoot things.

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