Yes, yes, yes, I know it has been entirely too long since I last posted, and I know that this post is a bit late for what I am talking about. Still...
A friend of mine posted on her Facebook page yesterday a link to Herod's song in Jesus Christ Superstar as an Easter greeting. Since she is my friend, and since I have repeatedly played a different although related Herod for my church, I took a look at it. When I did, I noticed a few things that, frankly, offended me--aside from it being a musical, which annoys me on general principles.*
For one, and admittedly least, it puts into the mouth of a villain from a line of villainy a song very much in the older styles of jazz, thereby equating early jazz with evil. In doing so, it reinforces negative stereotypes about the audiences of that style of music, perpetuating an instance of the generic fallacy.
The scene rolls around in stereotypes, really. Herod is portrayed as a less-hairy version of Richard Simmons, looking like prejudicial depictions of flamboyantly effeminate homosexual men; his voice is largely high and wispy, he runs around shirtless and in shorts, accompanied by--among others--a painted-faced close mimic of Freddie Mercury (whose awesomeness is unable to be duplicated). Gay men are thereby equated with evil, which depiction is offensive to me as a member of a reconciling congregation, a friend to several homosexual men, and a person who looks forward to the end of discrimination based on inborn qualities.**
I was going to make another comment about the unspeaking, over-exaggeratedly smiling black pianist Herod employs, one very much aligned with stereotypical depictions of black jazz musicians. But as I think on it, that is exactly the kind of thing that should be aligned with evil. Along with musicals, generally.
*There are, of course, exceptions. But they are not many, and you do not need to know them. So there.
**Yes, I view sexual orientation as an inborn quality, and yes, I support discrimination based on the choices made by consenting adults.