The eve of any new year throbs with hope, anticipation and optimism. This is specifically accurate of the dawn of a new millennium. Yet the first two a long time of the twenty-first century have been sandwiched concerning a brace of cataclysmic international functions: the record-defining 9/1l catastrophe (perhaps the epitome of cruel intentions) and a deadly pandemic that remaining no element of our planet unaffected.
Admittedly, in the intervening many years there is been some excellent things – Barack Obama’s inauguration as the USA’s to start with at any time black president, fast advancements in technology, and improved social consciousness. But these types of indicators of progress have been dwarfed by a seemingly unlimited succession of soul-destroying phenomena: war in Iraq, the worst world money crisis considering the fact that the Wonderful Despair, the Syrian Civil War, the Boston Marathon bombings …
The environment is a cruel, cruel location. In this context, the opportunity to be transported back again to a time when problems were a lot more localised, when new music was more joyous, and when situations like the Twin Towers assaults were outside of the scope of our creativity, is all also tempting. For this was a time when our universe was egocentric – the most critical functions were being those that took place within just our personal bubble. Time journey is accurately what the massively successful musical jukebox edition of Cruel Intentions does, and its wide-ranging charm is obvious. Those people of us who remember the 1999 film – by itself inspired by 1782 French novel Les Liaisons Dangereuse and the 1988 film Harmful Liaisons – can indulge in reminiscences of the songs and lifestyle of the 90s. In the meantime, more youthful audiences can link with the timeless angst of sophisticated associations and catchy tunes, when at the same time increasing an eyebrow at the gender stereotyping and political incorrectness. For audience customers of all ages, we may possibly even feel a little smug at how much we have developed. Consequently, this is a musical with the possible to make us come to feel excellent about ourselves – but, in the text of 1 of the show’s song titles, it’s a ‘bittersweet symphony’.
In Cruel Intentions: The ‘90s Musical, warped and privileged phase-siblings Sebastian and Kathryn make a pact: if Sebastian can desecrate the virginal Annette, daughter of the new headmaster at their prestigious university, she will reward him by permitting him to rest with her. Aside from the quasi-incestuous component, all type of taboos of the time are uncovered, together with homosexuality and gender inequities. Ever-existing is intentional manipulation of peers in the quest for private obtain and fulfillment. The steps and attitudes of these narcissistic rich young ones help the audience to knowledge self-indulgent behaviours vicariously, behaviours that have no satisfactory position in modern-day modern society. Sebastian, for instance, in the long run escapes judgement in the 90s film in 2022, we discover his actions abhorrent. Seen by way of the prism of present-day values, we are extra possible to empathise with the calculating Kathryn, a woman whose carry out is tempered by the social morés of her course and gender – she has now even been hailed as a feminist icon in the magazine Bustle.
So this is a musical that retains up a mirror to both equally the 1990s and the current day, inviting us to assess and contrast. We could be important of the obscene selfishness of Sebastian and Kathryn et al, and they may well warrant our judgement. It’s legitimate, we have appear a very long way. But is our entire world today seriously any fewer cruel? It seems that is complete of cruelties, each intentional and unintended – and not just administered by the powerful and privileged. It is not uncommon, for example, for the Twitterati to make the most vile of opinions, obviously intended to wound.
Right after all, there need to be some purpose why audiences seem back on the 90s period fondly. Nostalgia is normally perceived as passion for the past – feel of the accomplishment of displays like Bake-Off – but it was originally a Greek time period for a actual physical sickness, roughly translating as homesickness. And nostalgia tends to come to be outstanding in moments of problems, uncertainty or dissatisfaction. Are we homesick for the 90s? For a period of time that is in just dwelling memory but ‘simpler’ than the worldwide instability of the existing weather? Is the craving for the 1990s just a damning indictment of the 2020s?
Perfectly, aside from the two significant activities stated previously, the twenty-1st century is plagued with common concerns. For every action ahead, it appears we consider two methods back – for example, gender stereotyping is now frowned upon, but has been outmoded by the Gordian knot that is gender identity politics we champion freedom of speech, then ‘cancel’ individuals whose views do not accord with our possess we are far more ‘woke’ than at any time, still this is countered by more than-correction and the erosion of popular sense we are much far more mindful of social ills, but this has spawned an age of rampant activism which normally impinges on the legal rights of everyday people. We have, of necessity, turn into an intercontinental community of ideologues.
And the news does minimal to cheer us up. This week by yourself, the Herald has reported that sexual assaults in Australia elevated by 13 per cent very last 12 months (sourced from the Bureau of Statistics), the maximum degree considering that documents started, and that desire prices are established to hit a 32-yr substantial of 7.75 for each cent by the stop of the year. Insert to that the enduring and much-reaching war in Ukraine and the worldwide price tag of dwelling crisis, and Armageddon below we occur.
So thank goodness for nostalgic musical theatre! For a number of hours, it is probable to escape our dystopian truth and indulge in the machinations of a handful of self-absorbed Manhattan teenagers and their cruel intentions. For a several hours only: goodbye, cruel globe.