Text topic: Cultures of Rhythms and Spectacle
Text author: Наташа Миловић
This paper will analyze how human bodies, often caught in the spectacles of war, appear in the opus of the British playwright Edward Bond, in his trilogy from the eighties known as The War Plays as well as in his more recent works such as Coffee and Crimes of the 21st Century. The underlying thesis of Bond’s work is that the Western Civilization’s attitude to the body, made spectacularly visible in war, actually matches its traditional peace-time relationship to the people. In the dominant discourse of society common people are seen as Red, Black and Ignorant, precisely as the title of the first play of Bond’s War Plays trilogy suggests. They represent the silent majority, disregarded, exploited and invisible until the moment when their ravaged bodies become conveniently spectacular, the world and media sensation, displayed on the cover pages of newspapers, invoked as subjects of great concern by provocative headlines in the news programs, made objects of scientific analysis, used as metaphors of lost humanness in critical texts, etc. The sudden (hypocritical) concern for the victims of war is staged in order to keep hidden West’s real lack of concern and respect for human life, which are the underlying cause of war.Bond sees this paradox as the expected outcome of existence in unjust societies. Never abandoning his radical quest for justice he has spent his entire writing life studying the causes and effects of war and violence. The move away from them requires true understanding of what he calls “text, subtext and metatext of our situation. The metatext of Red Black and Ignorant says that it takes a lot of culture to make us killers”.
For the theoretical framework in this paper Bond’s own comments, notes, critical texts and poem will be used, as well as the ideas of cultural analysts and historians Michel Foucault and Howard Zinn.