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The Historians, the Rape Apologists, and the Bolsheviks: The most absurd lines from Lempicka critics

The Historians, the Rape Apologists, and the Bolsheviks: The most absurd lines from Lempicka critics

rivermelody
#1The Historians, the Rape Apologists, and the Bolsheviks: The most absurd lines from Lempicka critics
Posted: 5/14/24 at 12:52pm

The show is closing and there is nothing that can be done. And I am not making the claim that all of the critical reviews were off the mark. However, some of these were unacceptable and I think we should have higher expectations.

 

"YOU REALLY HAMMED UP THAT RAPE" 

To give a quick synopsis, the Bolsheviks arrested her husband, and she had to sleep with the guards to get him out of jail (implied, tamely, offstage). Then they flee Paris, penniless, and she begins painting to make money. This is a true part of her history. 

 

Brian Scott Lipton: “Early on, it makes a big show about how she used her body (for one night) to help get her captured husband Tadeusz (handsome Andrew Samonsky) released from a Russian prison”

 
Sandy Macdonald: “The historical accounts suggest that this was a relatively civilized exchange -  if sexual favors rendered under duress can be categorized thus – but the musical goes all out in depicting a hellish descent into brutal debauchery. Abud, in this and subsequent scenes in which he plays assorted roles, goes all in, jacked up and shamelessly spotlight-grabbing.”

 

"YOUR FICTIONAL SHOW IS HISTORICALLY INACCURATE"

Jesse Green’s NYT review mostly just pointed out the historical inaccuracies (hello, it’s fiction!). Critics saying “well, actually!” about the life of an artist that they had probably never heard of until the show was so frequent that my friend coined the term “Lempickasplaining” to describe the phenomenon of critics relentlessly fact checking and then complaining about a show that was always historical fiction (Rafaela, who arguably is the reason Lempicka is famous is lost to history, is lifted off the canvas and given a voice/story in this show). I stopped counting at around eight or ten reviews. One of the most loved shows on broadway - Hamilton - is also not historically faithful. I checked a couple of the same critic’s reviews of Hamilton and a big fat zero of them felt the need to fact check a story about men.

 

"I FIGURED OUT THE SHOW WAS CODED FEMALE AND I STOPPED LISTENING, BECAUSE MY REVIEW CONTAINS THINGS THAT ARE NOT IN THE SHOW:  

 …This is the most frustrating thing because I don’t think there is recourse. Here is a list of things that "critics" wrote that are straight up, inarguably, incorrect. 

 

Brian Scott Lipton:  : “The show’s shortcomings would matter far less if there was a memorable, hummable score, but what we get here ranges from the banal (a song about a bracelet, really?)” 

→ “The Most Beautiful Bracelet” is, uhh, not about a bracelet, which should be clear from about the second line of the song if you were listening. It’s a beautiful - and super sexy - song actually. 

 

Robert Hofler: “No one is interested in commissioning portraits from her anymore. Not asked is why she stops painting. Because nobody is paying her? Some artist.”

→ She has an easel right next to her in this scene, dingbat. The very first scene in the show is her as an old woman painting. The very first line in the show is “Blue” or something like that because she is painting.

 

Johnny Oleksinski: “Isn’t perfection the enemy?,” a character named the Baroness (Beth Leavel), who I could tell you exactly nothing about, asks the founder of Futurism Filippo Marinetti (George Abud)”

→ That line is not in the Broadway show. It’s in the La Jolla version of the show, but it isn’t in the Broadway show. I’m not surprised he can tell us “exactly nothing about” the the Baroness, or anything, because...did you see the show?! 

 

WHY ISN'T THE SHOW BETTER COMMUNIST PROPAGANDA?

I wasn’t prepared for this one, but did you know that people liked the Bolsheviks? I’ve watched the creeping radicalization on both sides of the political spectrum with unease, and I know that our global adversaries our populace by screwing with our social media (this is your reminder to delete Tiktok), but I didn’t realize how quickly we forget brutality. The cause of the 1917 Russian revolution is irrelevant to the show, but for what it’s worth, the proletariat got a whole song. A LONG song. There are no such requests for Germany’s pre WW2 grievances, lol. There is a sick irony here, because one of the topics the show covers is the flight of artists to extremism (Marinetti was a real character - look him up, you are in for a wild ride. Or, go see the show.)

 

Dan Rubins: “Three anonymous Russian soldiers get their Jean Valjean moments in an opening sequence, but since the show has little interest in the revolutionary cause they’re wailing about…”

 

Philip Kennicott: “The revolution that disrupts the lives of our main characters is cruel, but the actual grievance that sparks it is passed over lightly.” 

 

Sarah Holdren: It’s especially odd, given the defiant socialist vibes of Hadestown, also directed by Chavkin and still running right across the street from Lempicka, how simplistically “the revolution” is depicted here.

 

Joey Sims: Kreitzer and Gould speed through Tamara’s early years in Russia, showing a loose regard for historical detail 

 

MORE VITRIOL THAT SOUNDS LIKE "I DONT'T WANT TO WATCH A SHOW ABOUT WOMEN"

 

Robert Hofler: ”We get it! Tamara de Lempicka is a most liberated woman. Only when the title character is off the stage are we able to give our ears a respite from all the noise.”

 

Johnny Oleksinski: “Lemicka is neither a force of nature, nor a relatable dreamer — she’s a talking paintbrush”

 

Brian Scott Lipton: “it struggles to decide what story it wants to tell us and what message we’re supposed to take ith (sic) us as we leave the theatre. Women can do anything? Women never get the same credit as men? Women are brilliant? Art isn’t easy? You tell me?”

 

Robert Hofler: “She was not forgotten because of her sex…In the end, “Lempicka” takes a potentially fascinating character and turns her into another weepy, boring victim.” 

 

Adam Feldman: “..violently raid Solidor’s queer bar—and then the show cuts to a wild-eyed Beth Leavel (as one of Lempicka's patrons) belting “It’s the end of time!!” straight at the audience—I challenge you not to giggle.”

(Note from me I challenge you not to cry. He’s so wrong.)

Updated On: 5/14/24 at 12:52 PM

JSquared2
#2The Historians, the Rape Apologists, and the Bolsheviks: The most absurd lines from Lempicka "critics"
Posted: 5/14/24 at 1:02pm

If you felt the need to join up today just to post this rambling tirade, it would be nice if you told us what point you are trying to make...

 

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Mr. Wormwood
Alex Kulak2
#4The Historians, the Rape Apologists, and the Bolsheviks: The most absurd lines from Lempicka "critics"
Posted: 5/14/24 at 1:08pm

I'm not reading all that.

I'm happy for you.

Or sorry that happened.

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Jordan Catalano
#5The Historians, the Rape Apologists, and the Bolsheviks: The most absurd lines from Lempicka "critics"
Posted: 5/14/24 at 1:10pm

So you actually used part of your day compiling that?

jagman106
#6The Historians, the Rape Apologists, and the Bolsheviks: The most absurd lines from Lempicka "critics"
Posted: 5/14/24 at 1:14pm

Gotta hand it to the diehard Lempicka fans (or people associated with the production), they don't surrender easily.

hearthemsing22
#7The Historians, the Rape Apologists, and the Bolsheviks: The most absurd lines from Lempicka "critics"
Posted: 5/14/24 at 1:15pm

Didn't read all of that nor will I, but what exactly do you expect them to do now?

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Call_me_jorge
#8The Historians, the Rape Apologists, and the Bolsheviks: The most absurd lines from Lempicka "critics"
Posted: 5/14/24 at 1:18pm

I do think OP makes valid arguments on the “historical fiction” part. Why did Hamilton get a pass, but Lempicka is criticized for being historically inaccurate? 
 

Jesse Green’s NYT review mostly just pointed out the historical inaccuracies (hello, it’s fiction!). Critics saying “well, actually!” about the life of an artist that they had probably never heard of until the show was so frequent that my friend coined the term “Lempickasplaining” to describe the phenomenon of critics relentlessly fact checking and then complaining about a show that was always historical fiction (again, Rafaela, who is lost to history, is front and center in this show!). I stopped counting at around eight or ten reviews. One of the most loved shows on broadway - Hamilton - is also not historically faithful. I checked a couple of the same critic’s reviews of Hamilton and a big fat zero of them felt the need to fact check a story about men.


In our millions, in our billions, we are most powerful when we stand together. TW4C unwaveringly joins the worldwide masses, for we know our liberation is inseparably bound. Signed, Theater Workers for a Ceasefire https://theaterworkersforaceasefire.com/statement

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songanddanceman2
#9The Historians, the Rape Apologists, and the Bolsheviks: The most absurd lines from Lempicka "critics"
Posted: 5/14/24 at 1:26pm

100 percent involved in the production.


Namo i love u but we get it already....you don't like Madonna

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TotallyEffed
rivermelody
#11The Historians, the Rape Apologists, and the Bolsheviks: The most absurd lines from Lempicka "critics"
Posted: 5/14/24 at 1:48pm

I have no way of proving this to you, but I am not involved in the production. I don't work in theater or art at all. 

spicemonkey
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dramamama611
#13The Historians, the Rape Apologists, and the Bolsheviks: The most absurd lines from Lempicka "critics"
Posted: 5/14/24 at 2:30pm

Honestly? If the show worked better I don't think the need to show it inaccurate would have been a thing.   Their inaccuracies isn't what caused the show to fail - but it's a talking point.

 

Now go back to your front row rush seats and annoy the rest of the auditnece with your behavior.


If we're not having fun, then why are we doing it? These are DISCUSSION boards, not mutual admiration boards. Discussion only occurs when we are willing to hear what others are thinking, regardless of whether it is alignment to our own thoughts.

rivermelody
#14The Historians, the Rape Apologists, and the Bolsheviks: The most absurd lines from Lempicka
Posted: 5/14/24 at 2:33pm

hearthemsing22 said: "Didn't read all of that nor will I, but what exactly do you expect them to do now?"

Nothing. That's why the first line of the post is "The show is closing, and nothing can be done" 

I don't know if there is a way to hold reviewers accountable for writing critiques around things that literally do not exist in the show, but I wish they had to answer for that. 

And I'm shocked that the comment that was essentially "in her real life, her rape was a 'civilized exchange', I fact checked it and the show hammed it up too much with their smoke machine and her having feelings" (or whatever? I'm not sure what this reviewer is on about, but I'm shocked that calling her rape a "civilized exchange" made it into print and there hasn't been pushback for that. 

So I want people to know, as this show goes down as the most panned flop this season, how unhinged some of the comments were. Yet they still get counted in the scores.  

Updated On: 5/14/24 at 02:33 PM

rivermelody
#15The Historians, the Rape Apologists, and the Bolsheviks: The most absurd lines from Lempicka "critics"
Posted: 5/14/24 at 2:37pm

dramamama611 said: "Honestly? If the show worked better I don't think the need to showit inaccurate would have been a thing. Their inaccuracies isn't what caused the show to fail - but it's a talking point.



Now go back to your front row rush seats and annoy the rest of the auditnece with your behavior.
"

 

I had a feeling someone was going to make that claim. While I am certainly a theater fan and a fan of the show, I am not a part of that crowd and have never even sat in the orchestra for Lempicka. 

There are certainly valid criticisms of the show. I can list them. This is a collection of takes that were impactful but are absurd. 

BentleyB
#16The Historians, the Rape Apologists, and the Bolsheviks: The most absurd lines from Lempicka "critics"
Posted: 5/14/24 at 2:43pm

rivermelody said: "dramamama611 said: "Honestly? If the show worked better I don't think the need to showit inaccurate would have been a thing. Their inaccuracies isn't what caused the show to fail - but it's a talking point.



Now go back to your front row rush seats and annoy the rest of the auditnece with your behavior.
"



I had a feeling someone was going to make that claim. While I am certainly a theater fan and a fan of the show,I am not a part of that crowd and have never even sat in the orchestra for Lempicka.

There are certainly valid criticisms of the show. I can list them. This is a collection of takes that were impactful but are absurd.
"

Rivermelody, may I introduce you to Broadway Flash?

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Charley Kringas Inc
#17The Historians, the Rape Apologists, and the Bolsheviks: The most absurd lines from Lempicka "critics"
Posted: 5/14/24 at 2:54pm

I think Lempicka is awkwardly trapped between trying to celebrate her life and using her life story as a jumping-off point for broader commentary. A big part of the show's advertising was all about bringing Lempicka herself back into focus as a historical figure who was unfairly sidelined, but when so much of it is fictional, it blurs the portrayal.

The awkward fluctuations in tone and clumsy staging also make it harder to ignore the structural flaws. Hamilton has a wide assortment of inaccuracies, but as a piece of theatre it's remarkably tight, and if Lempicka were as dramatically well-honed the fact-checking would probably be done in footnotes.

This show really needed to pick a single perspective and stick to it. I always think of that magical moment at the beginning of Sunday in the Park, where George says "I hate this tree" and the tree is whisked away by an arpeggiated chord. It's so simple but it immediately tells the audience how the show is going to approach its subject, and it never errs from that. Lempicka, on the other hand, waffles endlessly, which makes for a really frustrating viewing experience.

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Jonathan Cohen
#18The Historians, the Rape Apologists, and the Bolsheviks: The most absurd lines from Lempicka "critics"
Posted: 5/14/24 at 3:12pm

The line "Isn’t perfection the enemy?,” is in the 2022 recorded version of the song Perfection. If it was changed for the Broadway version, I don't have a line by line recall of the Broadway version, Johnny Oleksinski might have been listening to that when writing his review. 

Other than that, most of these examples rivermelody you bring up are just people having different opinions than you, not factual inaccuracies. 

For example, I read the Ron Chernow book Hamilton is based on and the musical is unquestionably more historically accurate than Lempicka is. The historical inaccuracies in Hamilton are more along the lines of there being 5 Schuyler sisters instead of 3 or not mentioning Hamilton's other kids. 

Those are largely narrative omissions, as opposed to Lempicka largely revolving around a love triangle where one of the three people is basically a made up composite person.

In terms of the reviews being sexists, Brian Scott Lipton, Robert Hofler, and Johnny Oleksinski all gave more positive reviews to Suffs, a musical focused even more exclusively on women. Disliking Lempicka is not proof of hating musicals about women. 

rivermelody
#19The Historians, the Rape Apologists, and the Bolsheviks: The most absurd lines from Lempicka "critics"
Posted: 5/14/24 at 3:24pm

In regards to Suffs - their message is "women should vote", which is an easy message to get behind. Lempicka, on the otherhand, portrays the type of woman that still makes a lot of people angry. She's a power woman, but she cheats on her husband, she's not a great mother, she puts her work above all else. While men do this, we largely do not accept the same from women. 

The show has no male heros. It barely passes a reverse bechdel test. The women kiss each other instead of the men. I think it is more than possible to be fine with stuffs, and still get "triggered" for lack of a better term by a female antihero, and to let that misogny creep into your review. 

The comment "A song about a bracelet, how banal" just reads like he heard "girl thing" and then put his fingers in his ears after the first line. I don't know how anyone could summarize that song as "about a bracelet" if they had actually listened to it.

Again, I am certainly not saying that it was criticized purely out of misogyny. As I said before there are plenty of valid criticisms. But I do think that that accounts for some of the vitriol. And I would consider some of those comments misogynistic.  

 

Jonathan Cohen said: "The line "Isn’t perfection the enemy?,” is in the 2022recorded version of the song Perfection. If it was changed for the Broadway version, I don't have a line by line recall of the Broadway version,Johnny Oleksinski might have been listening to that when writing his review.

Other than that, most of these examplesrivermelodyyou bring up are just people having different opinions than you, not factual inaccuracies.

For example, I read theRon Chernow book Hamilton is based on and the musical is unquestionably more historically accurate than Lempicka is. The historical inaccuracies in Hamilton are more along the lines of there being 5Schuyler sisters instead of 3 or not mentioning Hamilton's other kids.

Those are largely narrative omissions, as opposed to Lempicka largely revolving around a love triangle where one of the three people is basically a made up composite person.

In terms of the reviews being sexists,Brian Scott Lipton, Robert Hofler, and Johnny Oleksinski all gave more positive reviews to Suffs, a musical focused even more exclusively on women. DislikingLempicka is not proof of hating musicals about women.
"

 

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Jonathan Cohen
#20The Historians, the Rape Apologists, and the Bolsheviks: The most absurd lines from Lempicka "critics"
Posted: 5/14/24 at 4:27pm

rivermelody said: "In regards to Suffs - their message is "women should vote", which is an easy message to get behind. Lempicka, on the otherhand, portrays the type of woman that still makes a lot of people angry. She's a power woman, but she cheats on her husband, she's not a great mother, she puts her work above all else. While men do this, we largely do not accept the same from women.

The show has no male heros. It barely passes a reverse bechdel test. The women kiss each other instead of the men. I think it is more than possible to be fine with stuffs, and still get "triggered" for lack of a better term by a female antihero, and to let that misogny creep into your review."


This is a real question, have you seen Suffs? While the subject matter is about women getting the right to vote, it's not the message. What Suffs is ultimately saying message-wise is the fight is never over, at best positive change is slow and incremental, and you should still continue fighting anyway. It's not necessarily a warm and fuzzy takeaway. 

Additionally, the protagonist Alice Paul put her work above all else even more than Lempicka. She never married or had children. In real life, she was probably more directly threatening to sexists. She threw bricks through windows (which didn't make the musical) and was arrested seven times for protest related offenses. 

What I would concede is Lempicka portrays women enjoying sex, while Alice Paul is basically shown as an asexual martyr. Kristen Stewart has been talking about this a lot lately, about how some men are very threatened by the idea of women enjoying sex in a context not dictated by men.    

In terms of Lempicka not having enough of a male focal point and that offending some male critics, I'd argue the show has the opposite problem. Every second Tadeusz Lempicki was onstage was boring because the show had absolutely no interest in him. I'm sure Lempicka would have gotten better reviews if he was only an off-stage character. 

Is it possible for a theater critic to be misogynistic? Sure, but in the aggregate if you're offended by same sex kissing becoming a theater critic is an odd profession to pursue. 

Rather, I think what critics responded to was feeling Lempicka is a narrative mess, while Suffs got better reviews because while not perfect, it had a much clearer sense of the story it wanted to tell.         

BroadwayPatriot
#21The Historians, the Rape Apologists, and the Bolsheviks: The most absurd lines from Lempicka "critics"
Posted: 5/14/24 at 4:42pm

It is hilarious that many critics are angry that communists are not portrayed as wonderful and the rape was a civil exchange- goes to show most of the alleged critics are devoted to ideology first and for most, I suppose they crave a communist sympathetic musical? I saw the show - I liked it but thought it was too long - and Lempika and get lover had no chemistry at all , enjoyed the concept and some of the orchestrations , and the use of the set was outstanding 

PipingHotPiccolo
#22The Historians, the Rape Apologists, and the Bolsheviks: The most absurd lines from Lempicka "critics"
Posted: 5/14/24 at 7:44pm

its perfectly valid to explore how shows change historical fact for narrative purposes- WHAT gets left out/edited/changed leads to WHY and thats an interesting valid conversation. artistic license is always gonna be there, so sure lets understand why Shaina Taub or Lin Miranda changed which historical facts and for what purpose. The discussion about why Lempicka made the choices it did interests me: they turned one historical Nazi collaborator into a lesbian hero. Discuss.

but i couldnt quite follow the original post here so nvm.

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Kad
#23The Historians, the Rape Apologists, and the Bolsheviks: The most absurd lines from Lempicka "critics"
Posted: 5/14/24 at 8:01pm

A lot of cherry-picked quotes devoid of context that are then interpreted in remarkably bad faith aren’t going to change hearts and minds on this show. 


"...everyone finally shut up, and the audience could enjoy the beginning of the Anatevka Pogram in peace."