Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Symbols

This afternoon as I was picking up our youngest daughter from theatre arts camp, I was accidently privy to an interesting conversation among the director of the play and three of the interns. As they are putting on a full musical production of Rogers and Hammerstein’s Sound of Music, they were discussing the use of the swastika. It seems that the management of the music school, out of which the play will be performed, is concerned that by using the symbol, they would be somehow promoting Nazism and offending Jewish people. The other side of the discussion supported the idea that by leaving out the swastika, they were, in effect, glossing over the Holocaust, which of course, was the entire conflict of the Sound of Music (sure – there’s the dead wife, the wild children, the forbidden love, and bad nunning, but you get the point).

I understood both sides of the discussion, but I had to agree that to leaving the swastika out of the production would be a mistake on many levels. First, it would dilute the main conflict of the play and squelch the triumph of good over evil. Secondly, it would be an attempt to sweep a horrendous historic event under the rug so that people are more comfortable, which makes no sense to me. Thirdly, and most importantly, it might make every child who is part of that company think that the “funny black spider” that "makes everyone nervous" (as they have all seen the 1965 Academy Award winner for Best Picture and know it is part of the story), is insignificant, when it is certainly not.

Each curious child should be informed of its meaning by his parents who can decide the right time, type, and amount of information to give that child. In the meantime, it should be enough to feel the audience (the adults in the room) tense when that symbol is worn or shown.

As an erstwhile graphic design student, I am extremely interested in symbols and icons and their importance. The swastika represents something that should never be ignored, glossed-over, or feared any longer. It should be seen as a symbol whose meaning is now synonymous with the Nazis reign of terror, the Holocaust. Anything less is an insult to the millions of innocent individuals who were systematically murdered under the ideology it represented.

My question: why doesn't the hammer and sickle evoke such an immediate reaction?

3 comments:

Kim said...

Interesting question about the hammer and sickle. Probably because so many people have hidden the atrocities and still believe in the ideals.

The swastika is a hot-button issue but presenting it in a play obviously about fighting against it, it should be included.

LB said...

I'm afraid that you may be right about still believing in the ideals represented by the hammer and sickle. That's creepy.

Whatever they decide to do in the stage production, I'm sure I'll post about it when I see it later this month.

Kim said...

I've had this bubbling around in my head ever since I listened to some of the DIM lecture from Peikoff. If disintegrationists don't believe in reality, then there are no mistakes to recognize--thus no attrocities, no communist ideals failure, and no reason to change their minds. I wonder if that's why there is always some excuse.

Well, that and the whole disintegration thing would mean that they are not connecting North Korea, Soviet Union, Vietnam, Cambodia, Cuba. If you don't integrate--then all of those entities are taken at face value with no underlying tie to each other (the communism). This is probably obvious to everyone else who thinks about politics regularly, but I'm new to the game and find the philosophical premises most damning.

I'm hoping most lay people will be more honest.