Monday, November 25, 2002

How odd is it that this article about a butchering of Animal Farm in China and this one about a butchering of it in an English-language "parody," independently reported, appeared within a day of each other?

And no, it's not because of the Orwell moment we're currently living through; it's not because of the ways in which Mr. Blair is part of the current zeitgeist. The Chinese director-adaptor in the first article shows no signs of being part of, or having the least interest in, the current Western fascination with Orwell and his legacy. At least Reed's attack on Orwell is on-topic; he understands what Orwell was for, understands the relevance of Orwell to the current climate in the west, and he's against all of it. Shang has created a play that is so utterly orthogonal to Orwell's concerns, so irrelevant to the Sullivan-Hitchens-Cockburn-Amis-etc debates, as to be jaw-droppingly bizarre. That he's created it right now is simple, but disturbing, coincidence.

The Reed parody sounds utterly vile to me; and the Orwell estate is right to be outraged. But it does seem to me clearly and rightly protected under U.S. law; I would not want to see the satire-and-parody exceptions to IP law narrowed.

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