Rodgers and Hammerstein were both Jewish who composed together musicals set in must of the rest of the world. Their work is set in Austria, Chinatown of San Francisco, Thailand, Some South Pacific Island, Oklahoma and even the after life. Strange that they never made a song about the war in Europe or the lives of urban Jews, who made up a huge part of their audience in Broadway.
The surface Ideology of their work, when it has one is liberal. Crime is the product of social inequality and poverty. Racism, sexism, and fascism are defeated. And their music did approach prejudice in their song "You have to be taught", which oddly enough was set in the context of African Americans.
When you look at the artistic community working in the mass media market of America at and after the Second World War you have to grant that you are in a matrix of conflicting pressures. The artists who produced these amazing productions that produced so much profit were often Jewish, families that had watch the Holocaust from New York. They were often homosexual or bisexual. And they had some degree of freedom in the content they select to put in their musicals. From "West Side Story" to "Cabrera" liberal enlightenment ideas are presented again and again. There has never been a post-modern musical, there can never be one. The form is as fixed in time as the work of Gilbert and Sullivan are fixed in the Victorian. The Musical on Broadway, touring the world, and best of all turned in to a movie is a modernist concept. Even "Le Mis" is an modernist formal.
But how compromised did they become from the conceptions of their mostly Jewish fathers to their massive movie releases. And how much have the unconscious understanding of the class of musical creators impact their content, are layers of meaning to be seen as cynical graphs or unconscious grasping.
For example Slavoj Žižek explains why the Sound of Music is racist Žižek argues that on a level you identify with the Nazis. It is interesting the selections of locations and groups. Even when the Musical comes to New York it is already ethnically cleansed of Jews. Musicals happen in a universe after the Final Solution. Reality TV has taught us that raw idiotic human maladapt ion and neurosis can attract the gaze.
Are personal traumas being insert as signs from the larger American public which is spoken to in words as good liberal teachers, but is seduced on the imaginary level with images of the will to superman power, to take the face of the evil Nazis.
Blogged with Flock