Four thumbs down from our group this evening at Smart People, a play put on by the Huntington Theater. The play has two black characters, an Asian-American woman who is a Harvard professor, and a white guy. Our little group included an Asian-American woman who is a Harvard professor and yet the situations did not seem credible or interesting. Some of the dialog was good and the actors did complete justice to the script, but the idea that putting white, black, and Asian people together in the same country immediately leads to compelling tensions is questionable.
Much of the play concerns Barack Obama’s 2008 election. Yet it is unclear that Barack Obama’s racial background plays a part in what he is doing day to day any more than King Bush II’s racial background did. The name “Obama” appears four times on the New York Times front page right now. Once is an article about “the Obama administration” denying a request for military assistance from the Iraqi Prime Minister. Was it denied because of Obama’s race? The article does not say that it was. Occurrence #2 is in an article about a woman whom the Times identifies as “African-American” and works as a Broadway usher who went to her workplace to see Obama attend a play despite the fact that she was not scheduled to work that day. She was fired. It was the Times reporter who chose to assign a racial identity to the usher, however. It wasn’t part of the event per se. The third mention is a 2:46 video about “Obama’s Cold War”. The reporter says that “Obama fits the mold of Republican Cold War Presidents” and doesn’t mention the race of any of these people or explain how race might have been a factor. The last mention on the front page concerns Obama trying to get money from 50 rich people in Weston, Massachusetts. There is no mention in the article of anyone’s race. Would Obama have done something different with these 50 rich people if his racial background had been different?
If nothing else, Smart People proves that talking about race does not make the conversation profound or even worth having.
[Separately, we enjoyed our dinner at Stephi's on Tremont beforehand.]