Hey, This Is a Thing That Happened: Stephen Bannon Once Wrote Weird, Space-Age Erotic Shakespeare Fanfic
Are you terrified at the thought of the future of our country? Of course you are. Our President-elect is… well, he is. We don’t need to spend precious exposition on why he’s going to murder our county. He just is.
The same goes for Stephen Bannon. This man has spent years heading the far-far-don’t-call-it-alt-right (maybe just straight-up hateful and dangerous) Breibart’s anti-semitic, misogynistic, racist “news” outlet. He also— even though apparently half the country was tricked into believing that Trump represented the anti-Wall Street working class— worked for Goldman Sachs for years. Trump’s team would like for you to think of him and his guys as the anti-Washington, even though Bannon was on Mediatite’s 2015 list of the “25 Most Influential in Political News Media 2015.” He was held up as a bastion of represtation for those “conservative readers who identify even further to the right of Fox News.” You know, an outsider!
But just in case you saw these opinions of Bannon and were like, “nah, too normal,” I have some good news/regular non-news news for you. Bannon has a weird history. An erotic history. A classical theatre history. At least one of those qualifiers should sway pretty much literally everyone I’m trying to reach. Is he weird? Sexual? Artistic? Simple-minded? Boy, do I have a hate-link for all of you!
In case you weren’t aware (I WASN’T! Oh boy, how beautiful the world is now), Stephen Bannon, current chief executive officer of our current President-elect, has invested heavily in a past life as a theatrical executive producer. Most prominently, Bannon acted as the EP to famed theatrical director Julie Taymor’s film adaptation of Titus Andronicus.
Bannon— who, again, produced this movie— spoke of Taymor’s adaptation with overwhelmingly douchey arrogance, saying, “If they’d done it my way, it would have been a hit.” First off, FUCK YOU, BANNON.
You may not have seen the filmic Titus, even though it was, by many counts, Shakespeare’s most profitable and popular play (PEOPLE LOVE BLOOD AND OTHER PEOPLE EATING BLOOD, OKAY?), and the modern adaptation, even if you didn’t see it ro care for it, still starred Anthony Hopkins, Jessica Lange, Matthew Rhys, Alan Cumming, and like a dozen other great actors. You don’t have to like it. But I hope you appreciate it.
So when you hear Steve Bannon, EP, call it a “flop,” I hope you smart people have the insight to retort back, “Fuck you, Bannon, that movie was SOLID. Or at least, you know, a movie.” And even if you haven’t seen it, may I possibly present an adaptation idea that is solidly NOT THAT AT ALL? Because Bannon himself— who somehow got caught up in this crazy Shakespeare life, when clearly he just wanted to be an anti-semitic Wall Street kid (IT’S BASICALLY WEST SIDE STORY, BUT WITH A LOT MORE EVIL)— wrote his own filmic version of the great, later years Shakespeare play. But, like, with a whole lot more sex. And aliens. And space sex alien stuff. Cause fuck you, Shakespeare, I guess.
Here’s the opening line of the adaptation Bannon would have preferred over Taymor’s version, because he, you know, wrote it:
Humanity in chaos. Alien ships sweep out of dark, sunless skies as people flee in panic.
Here’s what Shakespeare wrote, according to the First Folio”
Flourish. Enter the Tribunes and Senators aloft And then enter Saturninus and his Followers at one doore,and Bassianus and his Followers, at the other, with Drums and Colours.
Now, I don’t want to get too intellectual, or too out-there for you non-theatre, non-Shakespeare folk, but I feel like I have to point out what VERY CLEARLY happened here.
Not to get too intellectual on you— turn back now if you’re scared. I’m really sorry to point this out, but here’s what clearly happened:
Stephen Bannon, Wall Street darling and aspirational creative, saw the character name of “Saturninus,” and made an entire play out of it.
Those Shakespeare characters? SPACE ALIENS/TRAVELERS. Here’s a
terribly adapted great passage:
ANDRONICUS So this is Earth …
No war could have done what we did to ourselves—no enemy be so cruel … so unkind.
I was wrong. Earth is a world of feeling, not of form. Feelings are the linch-pin [sic] on which we rise. Or fall.
Emotion mediates between pure action and pure thought. But do not stay there. No. Move through it only. Be like the tide—
To be clear, Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus DOES NOT TAKE PLACE IN SPACE.
The play has some sex scenes and a major rape scene. Here’s what Bannon’s version of sexy times looks like:
INT. ATTAVA’S PALACE CHAMBER—NIGHT
A roaring fire, wine, silver goblets, a deep canopy bed. Attava has been well provided for.
OUTSIDE, IN A DRAUGHTY CORRIDOR
Aaron leans like a shadow into the doorway. He knocks.
Attava approaches. Her dressing gown gapes open, revealing her breasts. She opens the door. Aaron enters, closing it behind him and leans against it, arms folded across his chest.
I’m glad you called.
He grabs her. She leads him to the bed and pulls him down; laughing softly, she unwraps her gown.
Everything is always so…physical with you.
He climbs onto her and their forms dissolve, blend and blur in an erotic scene of ectoplasmic sex.
By the way, Aaron is a black Muslim character. Attiva, then is probably supposed to be Tamora, the woman who ends up eating her sons and fucking over basically everyone.
You guys, I don’t mean to get all intellectual on you, but this adaptation is what we, in the theatre world, would call… bad. Like, really, really bad. Bannon most likely lost money on the Anthony Hopkins/ Julie Taymor version, and still believes that his version would have been better. His version, full of space alien fucking. You know, so much truer to the original concept.
They fly lower. Andronicus looks down, suddenly intent on the scene below. Now they can make out humans, deformed, mingling with aliens, like animals in the dust.
So this is Earth…
No war could have done what we did to ourselves—no enemy be so cruel…so unkind.
I was wrong. Earth is a world of feeling, not of form. Feelings are the linch-pin [sic] on which we rise. Or fall. (strange, lost) Emotion mediates between pure action and pure thought. But do not stay there. No. Move through it only. Be like the tide—
Oh man, I wish this glimpse into Stephen Bannon’s simplisticly erotic brain could make him wholly simplified. How great would it be if we could choose not to take this man seriously? He sure doesn’t deserve our respect— which he seems to know— or even our fear— which he doesn’t, and is still banking on. An overly eroticized version of an already entirely erotic play, moved to space because this man sure as hell can’t handle the realities of earth— that’s laughable.
Let’s please think of this as laughable.
Please? Please can we still underestimate this awful, evil, erotically-minded man?
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