Shakespeare and the Holocaust

Julie Taymor’s Titus is Beautiful, or Shakesploi Meets (the) Camp
  • Richard Burt


One morning in the summer of 2000, I was channel surfing the trash talk shows to get my daily fix of mass media junk via the hype-o of my television set. After “Transsexual Love Secrets” on Springer got a bit boring, I lighted on the Maury Povich Show. The day’s topic was “My Seven-Year-Old Child Drinks, Smokes, Swears, and Hits Me!” Father figure Povich’s final solution, like Sally Jessie Raphael’s with much older kids on similar episodes of her show, was to send the young offenders to boot camp. Footage rolled of the kids crying their eyes out in camp as they were being yelled at an inch from their faces by paramilitary guards. The live television audience hooted, laughed, and applauded the more the girls cried. “What is going on here?” I asked myself. Was the Povich show unforeseen confirmation of Giorgio Agamben’s thesis in Homo Sacer that the concentration camp, not the prison, is the paradigm of modernity?1 Here was Povich playing the role of father as fascist (the children were all girls, and no father was present, or even mentioned). The audiences hoots, laughter, and applause, I took it, functioned as a cathartic release from their roles as parents, and the audience were allowed to identify with the sadistic guards and fantasize hurting children, perhaps even their own. The show was a backlash against the child-centered generation that has come to dominate U.S. culture.


Mass Culture Concentration Camp Boot Camp Serial Killer School Shooting 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Richard Burt 2002

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  • Richard Burt

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