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Musical theater all about distorting -- Gary L. Kriewald

April 5, 2019

I found it telling that the critics of “Miss Saigon” quoted in Wednesday’s article were both academics, who, despite their privileged position, seem to regard themselves as speakers for the entire Asian American community.

They claim the popular musical perpetuates stereotypes of Asians and “distorts their history and glamorizes their traumas.” (I thought theater -- especially musical theater -- was all about distorting and glamorizing.)

It was instructive to contrast their views with those of ordinary theater-goers. One said she planned to “look at [the play] for the time it is meant to represent.” Another said, “I think it’s important for us to observe things from multiple angles, even ones that aren’t the most popular opinions.” How refreshing to hear the voice of good sense offering a riposte to the tiresome drumbeat of identity politics (always served with a heavy dollop of virtue-signaling).

As a professor of English, Timothy Yu ought to know that a work of art should be judged on its aesthetic merits, not on how closely it conforms to a set of ideological tenets of which he happens to approve.

Gary L. Kriewald, Madison

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