Exit, Pursued by a Bono

Slate's Culture Blog
March 10 2011 8:43 PM

Exit, Pursued by a Bono

After months of accidents, ballooning costs, terrible reviews, and gleeful public rubbernecking, Julie Taymor is  officially out  as the director of the beleaguered Broadway musical,  Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.

Last month, when critics collectively descended upon the show (which was then, as now, still in previews), I  noted  how the story of  Spider-Man  had really become a story about Taymor, who was being depicted as character in a Greek tragedy of her own making. The director and co-book writer also earned comparisons to Arachne,  Spider-Man 's ancient, eight-legged antagonist. (Vulture's Scott Brown  described  the show as being "about an artist locked in a death grapple with her subject, a tumultuous relationship between a talented, tormented older woman and a callow young stud.")

Advertisement

Now that Taymor's been booted, writers are coming up with a whole new set of similes for her condition. On The   New Yorker 's Web site, Michael Schulman is "reminded of  the late stages of Hillary Clinton's 2008 Presidential campaign , when it was clear to everybody in the world but Clinton that the numbers weren't going to add up."

Ultimately, Taymor was blinded by her own strengths: persistence, passion, and unforgiving originality. Let's hope that she can ride those qualities, as Hillary Clinton did, to something new and big ...

In the  New York Times , Taymor's friend Jeffrey Horowitz, artistic director of New York's Theater for a New Audience, uses  a maternal metaphor :

Julie's an extremely sensitive person, and she has always felt like a mother to her plays, a mother to her characters ... This is like a mother being taken away from her family. She loves that family. She wants that family.

The Associated Press, meanwhile, seems to quote a comparison of Taymor's own fashioning, from her  TED talk  last week:

"I'm in  The Crucible  right now,"  she said, referring to the Arthur Miller play about the Salem witch trials. "It's trial by fire."

That last metaphor is so juicy, so resonant a woman being persecuted by an angry mob! but it may actually be too good to be true: When the  New York Times ' ArtsBeat blog printed the same quote , it made it sound like Taymor was just referring to a generic crucible. She also compared the eight-year experience of developing  Spider-Man  to scaling twin volcanoes, which she once did in Indonesia a useful reminder that, regardless of her current situation, Julie Taymor is a badass.

The  New York Post 's Michael Riedel  reports  that Bono is going to be stepping up as the show's creative honcho. Along with a new creative team including director Philip William McKinley and playwright and  Spider-Man  comics scribe Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa he plans to "rip the show apart from top to bottom," says a source.

I'm dubious about this overhaul. Perhaps the new team  will  manage to completely revamp the show. More likely, they'll produce a slightly more coherent mess. Will theatergoers really prefer that to Taymor's glorious trainwreck?

Meanwhile, here's another implicit metaphor: When the show finally opens this summer, Arachne's role will likely be diminished .

Follow  Brow Beat on Twitter . For more  culture coverage, like  Slate  Culture  on Facebook.  

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 11:33 AM Planned Parenthood Is About to Make It a Lot Easier to Get Birth Control
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 5:03 PM White House Chief Information Officer Will Run U.S. Ebola Response
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.