When Bill Maher spoke one on one to Breitbart editor-in-chief Alex Marlow at the top of Friday’s episode of “Real Time,” they had plenty of agreement on the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park production of “Julius Caesar” featuring the graphic assassination of a Trump-like title character with ridiculous yellow wig and an over-long red tie.
Maher brought up the furor while talking about attacks on free speech, but in a twist, he seemed to agree with those who say the play went too far. “Now I’m fond of saying to Republicans all the time ‘now if Obama did it…’ but really,” Maher said, “if Obama was Julius Caesar and he got stabbed, I think liberals would be angry about that.”
“Oh absolutely,” Marlow agreed. “It would be bedlam in the media.”
“I don’t think they should have Trump playing Julius Caesar, I don’t,” Maher added.
There’s just one problem with Maher’s statement: You don’t have to imagine a production of Julius Caesar featuring a President Obama version of the title character.
It happened in 2012, at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, in collaboration with the Acting Company. So, how angry did liberals get over that production?
Not even a little bit.
The reaction was instead mainly a collective shrug. Critics weren’t blown away, but they by and large liked the idea in theory.
For one example, here’s what MSPMag said about portraying Caesar as a lanky Black man. “It fits, sort of. Like Caesar, Obama rose to power on a tide of public goodwill; like Caesar, there were many in government who doubted Obama’s leadership abilities; and now that Obama’s first term has failed to live up to the messianic hype, there are plenty of people who — for the good of the country, you understand, not their own glory — want to take Obama down.”
Few conservative groups commented on the production at the time, but those that did praised it, like The American Conservative.
And while high-profile sponsors of New York City’s Public Theater including Delta Airlines and Bank of America withdrew their support and condemned the Trumpified “Julius Caesar” the Guthrie production faced no such blowback.
And as The Washington Post noted earlier this week in 2012 Delta was a sponsor of the Guthrie Theater in 2012, and as of today remains on the list of the Theater’s corporate sponsors, credited with giving hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.
As for liberals, you guessed it — there was no outrage to speak of, and certainly none we were able to locate via Google searches today.
There was certainly no national uproar. Liberal groups did not call for the theater to lose funding, or accuse the producers of implying threats against the President. Critics didn’t slam the play. And the production didn’t become a national controversy condemned by citizens, pundits, and politicians, while bleeding sponsors.
And now we know how liberals would have reacted to an Obama version of “Julius Caesar.”
Related stories from TheWrap: