The beauty of a classic is the ease with which it can be updated even as it is retold. Shakespeare’s Hamlet moves easily between the centuries with each new production. Classic literature is infinitely adaptable to time and place.
Take the French classic The Story of O, which tells the tale of the training of a female submissive. In the French version, O was a female fashion photographer who loved every indignity to which she was forced to submit. In the updated version, the submissive in training is a male politician so driven by ambition he submits willing to the demands of his handlers.
There are some differences between the two:
· In the original, the heroine admitted her submissiveness; in the updated version, the protagonist is in denial.
· The original was erotic; the revision isn’t.
Our hero is always willing to shill for his handlers. With the Senate passage of the healthcare reform bill, our hero has been trotted out to sing his masters’ song, touting the bill as a major breakthrough when all it does is force the poor to buy insurance from private insurers and fining them if they fail to do so.
His minions accompany him with their familiar descant-: It’s not perfect but it’s the best we could get. Don’t worry; we’ll revisit it latter; it’s only the first step in a long process.
It’s the same song and dance they did when the Medicare drug bill was passed.
Nothing will change; nothing will be revisited. Their masters have spoken and the bill is as it is and as it will remain.
Our contemporary Story of O could well be subtitled Much Ado About Nothing.