Friday, February 01, 2013

The Phantom of the Opera teaches red pill

This post started as the complementary introduction to Ralph Wiggum's unrequited love for Lisa Simpson in my October 14 thoughts of the day (which are really thoughts of the month). I kept adding to it until the thought finally grew into a post. It joins musical-inspired posts Moulin Rouge: Feeling the Duke and Little Shop of Horrors is really good.

When I was a young man, I identified with the lonely Phantom character in the Broadway show Phantom of the Opera, which I first saw on a class trip with MAGNET. Coincidentally, the girl I had a crush on at the time of the class trip was also named Christine, though I don't recall making a name association at the time. Maybe I did. In my late teens, I listened often to a CD soundtrack of the musical and identified with the misfit Phantom's tale of tragic unrequited love that upended his life and his doomed attempt to marry Christine, who instead fell in love with Raoul, an ordinary man who yet was everything attractive to women that the Phantom was not.

The 25th anniversary Phantom and Christine pair are excellent, maybe GOAT, for their expressive physical acting as well as their rich singing. Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess (who originated the role of Ariel in Little Mermaid on Broadway) add the sexual current of a passionately yearning but sexually anxious Phantom shrinking from Christine's nubile sensuality. Karimloo and Boggess played Erik (Phantom) and Christine Daae in the West End sequel to Phantom, Love Never Dies, and they may have brought their character insights from the sequel into their portrayals in the original.

Karimloo's Phantom is an awkward, hurt, vulnerable, lonely nerd who has armored and empowered himself with illusions that he strips in order to bring Christine into his inner sanctum. Her rejection of his love, combined with her choosing a lesser man, transforms the Phantom from an eccentric devoted to his art into an electrically dangerous man infused with the explosive passion of the dark side. The Phantom risks everything in an elaborate seduction, culminating in a passion play, that fails against Christine and Raoul's simple, healthy mutual desire.

I have in common with the Phantom that I thought to impress Traci with my academic prowess in Mr. Norris's class, like the Phantom thought to capture Christine's heart with his "music of the night"; neither aesthetic display won their romantic love. I also believed Traci and I made each other better when we were together, like the Phantom taught Christine to sing while she "made [his] song take flight"; but she preferred the "drink and dance" of less "intimidating" men. Like the Phantom, my lovesick tries to bring us closer only further alienated her.

The Phantom of the Opera illustrates classic red-pill themes. In Moulin Rouge, the artist got the girl and the rich patron was spurned; the opposite happened in Phantom of the Opera. In both stories, however, the painstaking courtship of the mature suitor lost to the sex appeal of the lover. The Phantom's devotion to capricious, beautiful Christine broke him and ruined his life's work. He offered her his commitment, the best of himself, and his fragile heart, not knowing they were the wrong currency to purchase her love, and was punished mercilessly for his error.




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