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Steve Bannon’s “Rap Musical” About the L.A. Riots Is Exactly as Weird as You’re Imagining


You may have heard that noted, bloated friend-of-white-supremacy Steve Bannon has had a long and strange career as a Hollywood writer, director, and producer. Looking over his body of work, it seems like profit may be a bigger driving force than artistic aesthetic, as I don’t know how else to reconcile his investments in projects like Seinfeld and mega-liberal Sean Penn’s The Indian Runner with his pro-Sarah Palin, pro-Reagan, and anti-Barack Obama documentaries.

But there do appear to be a few through lines, or at least themes he’s come back to. One is Shakespearean adaptations, as well as stories about historical stories of war and power. (He was a co-executive producer on Julie Taymor’s Titus.) His second recurring passion appears to be taking on projects he has no business being a part of.

Bannon’s big loves, then, really meld together in his famously rumored “rap musical,” The Thing I Am. Co-written by Steve Bannon and Julia Jones, who also co-wrote that Reagan doc, the movie was an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, set around the 1992 Los Angeles riots following the LAPD’s beating of Rodney King.

I’ll give you a moment to stop laugh-crying.

The movie never got made, but the group NowThis obtained a copy of the script and did what any decent humans would do: They gathered together a bunch of actors and recorded a table read.

The video, which you can watch above, is about 20 minutes long, which is an eternity when watching this level of total drivel. So I won’t blame you if you can’t make it through the whole thing. I recommend giving it a try, because it’s a horrible hate watch with a fantastic cast. Rob Corddry, Gary Anthony Williams, Reno 911’s Cedric Yarborough, and Raising Hope’s Lucas Neff are just a few of the well-known cast members.

Coriolanus is Shakespeare’s rarely-produced tale of an unqualified, elitist politician’s rise to power. (SOUND FAMILIAR?) When it comes to things Steve Bannon has no talent for, adapting Shakespeare’s works is pretty high up that list. He writes the whole thing in sort of faux-verse, with pretentiously elevated language, but without the natural flow of Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter. Themes aside, the language is completely unlistenable.

Except we can’t set the themes aside, because as unqualified as Bannon and Jones are to adapt Shakespeare, they are infinitely farther out of their depths with this subject matter. How long do you think they made it into a script about Los Angeles’ gang culture before trotting out the n word? Did you guess the very first line of dialogue? Because it’s in the very first line of dialogue.

Other lines and items of note:

–The entire plot revolves around the city’s crack supply.

–There’s a character named “Baby Gangsta.” Baby Gangsta gives mad “stink eye.”

–The moment when the entire ensemble ends a scene by saying in unison, “Peace, blood! Chill!

–One character tells others to get their “sorry asses over to South Western” because “the bitches are going off crazy like frogs and the wiggers are kissing [Coriolanus’] ass.”

Steve Bannon wrote those words. As a serious project he wanted to put in movie theaters. Steve Bannon, “alt-right” (read: white supremacist) icon Steve Bannon, thought it was a perfectly fine idea to tell this story. He thought this was a thing he could and should do.

May we all have the confidence of Steve Bannon, and the hearts, minds, and talent of literally anyone else.

(via Vulture, image: screengrab)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.