All the World’s a Stage

In his weekly Takimag column, the good doctor covers the absurd choice of a black woman playing the part of Anne Boleyn in a new television series about the life of Henry VIII.

Thus the viewer’s mind, which is unlikely to be able to resolve the contradictory responses demanded of him, will be made thoroughly uncomfortable. He will find it difficult to judge the performances and the production by the normal criteria of such judgment. Though he might have been disturbed by the historical absurdity, he will feel guilty if he acknowledges it to himself, therefore he must lie to himself, and (if he discusses it) to others. This captures the very essence of totalitarian propaganda, which achieves its end, insofar as it does achieve its end, by violating the mental probity of those at whom it is directed. And, of course, this violence is done in the name of some higher good or principle.

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